The Aam Aadmi Party, rocked by allegations of accepting donations from dubious sources, is set to emerge as the single largest, with its leader Arvind Kejriwal still people’s first choice as chief minister, two separate surveys have found.
An ABP News and Nielsen opinion poll predicted that AAP will win in 35 of Delhi’s 70 constituencies. The survey was conducted after interviewing 6,396 respondents between January 25-31 and assumed a margin of error of five percent.
The opinion poll projected AAP as the probable winner in Delhi, with a narrow margin victory – just 50 percent of the total Delhi constituencies and 37 percent vote share. BJP is close behind with 29 seats and 33 percent vote share, according to the opinion poll. The party that led Delhi for 15 years – Congress – is facing a rout with six seats and 18 percent of the vote share.
The survey also suggested that Kejriwal is the most-preferred chief ministerial candidate and that BJP’s choice to push Kiran Bedi as CM is not helping the party get additional votes.
The city’s youths, low-income groups, scheduled caste groups and Muslims form AAP’s main support. Almost half of the voters interviewed for the survey have said they would vote for AAP, while 41 percent want to vote for BJP, according to the results of the opinion poll.
The Hindustan Times survey, conducted between January 27 and February 1, projected 36-41 seats for AAP, 27-32 seats for BJP and between 2 and 7 seats for the Congress. AAP is ahead of BJP by three percentage points in terms of vote share, according to the 3,578 voters interviewed.
Kiran Bedi Not Helping BJP Pull Voters
Most of the voters interviewed said they would remain aligned to their parties, with only a small proportion – 17 percent – of those who intended to switch parties. Of these, 10 percent are considering not voting for BJP. Only about seven percent are considering switching to BJP, which could be partly because of Bedi.
Kejriwal is leading with 48 percent of vote share, while Bedi, at 42 percent, is not far behind.
Kejriwal is also perceived as more capable of solving problems faced by Delhiites — almost half of the voters interviewed expected the AAP leader to deliver on these counts. But Bedi won when it came to “maintaining law and order and women’s safety” — unsurprising given her background as a fierce law enforcer and champion of women’s rights.
The poll results indicated that voters for AAP primarily came from economically weaker groups whose total household monthly income did not exceed Rs 15,000, as well as those with income between Rs 15,000-25,000. Meanwhile BJP’s stronghold is in the bracket of income of Rs 25,000 and upwards.
The poll also found that “nearly every second voter in a slum” plans on voting for AAP. At the same time, the party also has higher vote share than BJP in the non-slum areas.
Nearly two out of every three Muslims interviewed planned on voting for AAP, according to the poll. While 66 percent of Muslims said they would vote for the party, only 13 percent planned on voting for BJP and eight percent for Congress.
Kiran Bedi Versus Arvind Kejriwal
While voters seemed to be equivocal about Bedi refusing to engage in public debate with Kejriwal, both are perceived as doing more “tamasha” (drama) than working for actually developing the city. Kejriwal marginally outperforms Bedi in this category, according to the poll.
However both are seen as having “ditched” Anna Hazare in their bid to run in Indian politics.
Interestingly, 42 percent of those above 50 years of age support the AAP, while only 39 percent from this group favour the BJP, the HT poll found.
In Delhi Too, Modi Wave
Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have trumped both CM candidates in the race. A majority (58 percent) of the voters rated the Modi-led BJP government’s performance as “good” or “very good”.
Meanwhile Modi remained the most popular leader in the city with 46 percent responding favourable to him. Kejriwal seems close behind with 43 percent, while Bedi is at a woeful six percent.
What Delhi Really Wants
The opinion poll found that inflation (or price rise) is the biggest problem faced by Delhiites. While over a third (39 percent) of the voters interviewed said this was what they struggled with the most, another 31 percent complained about sanitation problems in the city. Unavailability of drinking water and unemployment have also been found to be pressing concerns, while bad condition of roads is another bone of contention.
Other dominant problems included increased power tariff, electricity outages, lack of cleanliness, and safety for women.
Delhi goes on poll this Saturday, with the result expected to be announced on Tuesday, February 10. In case of a hung assembly, President’s Rule will be declared, the Election Commission has stated.