New Delhi, January 24 – The BJP is likely to emerge as the single largest party in the elections to the Delhi Assembly but it is Arvind Kejriwal, who is the most popular leader in the capital and not Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The 49-day chief minister has also beaten BJP’s CM candidate Kiran Bedi as the most popular choice to head the Delhi government.
The India Today-Cicero snap poll, conducted earlier this week, has found that Kejriwal at 41 per cent is three points ahead of his rival Kiran Bedi, who’s got the support of 38 per cent voters. Barely 12 per cent of the voters wanted Ajay Maken of the Congress, which ruled Delhi for 15 consecutive years, as their CM.
The opinion over choosing Bedi as the BJP’s CM candidate was also divided with 43 per cent approving of it and 44 per cent finding it wrong. More than half of those polled said a party’s CM candidate is the most important factor in deciding their votes, followed by the party which mattered for 23 per cent of the voters.
The public opinion on Kejriwal was split down the middle with almost half the voters calling him a runaway or bhagora (30 per cent) and an anarchist (14 per cent), an allegation made by Modi at an election rally last week.
When asked about Modi’s statement in the same rally that Kejriwal should go and live in a jungle like the Naxals, 44 per cent approved of it while 34 per cent thought the PM should not have made the statement.
Kejriwal’s resignation after 49 days in power a year ago was met with widespread shock and criticism. The former chief minister has repeatedly admitted it as the biggest mistake of his political career.
However, he might find some relief in the fact that nearly 50 per cent of the Delhi voters still considered the AAP leader a revolutionary (25 per cent) and a political leader (22 per cent).
When asked about Kiran Bedi’s anointment as the BJP’s CM candidate, 37 per cent of voters thought she has been brought in only to counter Kejriwal.
Projecting Bedi as the face of its campaign was a break from the BJP’s strategy which was only about making all the elections a referendum on Modi. At least 12 per cent of the voters thought the BJP this time is not confident of a Modi wave.
When asked if Bedi was a natural choice for the BJP, 28 per cent said yes, while 13 per cent of those polled said the BJP did not have a CM candidate in Delhi. An overwhelming 65 per cent also felt she did the right thing by joining the BJP.
Also, an overwhelming 72 per cent of Delhi voters want a debate between the three CM candidates. Shortly after Bedi was declared the face of the Delhi BJP campaign, Kejriwal had challenged her to a public debate.
Bedi was initially okay with the idea, but declined later, saying Kejriwal is welcome to a debate in the Delhi Assembly. Meanwhile, Congress’s Maken also kept himself offering for the debate, hoping to make Delhi a three-cornered contest.
Interestingly, while 40 per cent of Delhi’s voters considered Kejriwal as their leader, Modi came second with 31 per cent of the votes. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who has been conspicuous by his absence in the Delhi campaign, could manage 7 per cent votes.
His mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi made it to the charts with just one per cent of the votes, while three-time CM Sheila Dikshit was preferred by three per cent voters.
BJP’s season of discontent:
Significantly, more people (47 per cent) thought the BJP’s decision to induct disgruntled leaders from other parties was wrong and encouraged opportunism; 36 per cent thought otherwise.
Almost half of those polled (49 per cent) also thought the protests by leaders who were denied tickets or dissidents would harm the BJP in the elections.
The India Today-Cicero snap poll was conducted with a sample size of nearly 2,000 respondents in 35 Assembly constituencies across Delhi.
The survey was conducted in compliance with standard international practices of election studies, by field investigators trained in data collection methods. Elections in Delhi will be held on February 7 and the votes will be counted on February 10.