“Tell Modiji to resign and contest for Delhi CM’s post. This election would be about CM and not PM,” AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal snapped on being told at a news conference that the BJP was planning to contest the impending elections in Modi’s name.
Today, Kejriwal clearly set the line which AAP will take to counter BJP – their 49 days versus BJP’s 7 years in MCD. “We are fighting elections on performance of our 49 day govt whereas BJP just abusing us. Can BJP explain what did they do in 7 yrs in MCD?” he tweeted early in the morning.
The AAP virtually went into campaign mode yesterday after the Union cabinet decided to dissolve the Assembly based on the recommendation of lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung.
Jung recommended the dissolution after the BJP, the single largest party in last winter’s polls, declined to form a government, as did the Congress and the AAP. Delhi has been under President’s rule since February after Kejriwal quit as chief minister.
Yesterday, the AAP sought to project BJP leader Jagdish Mukhi as the chief ministerial candidate even though his party had not declared him as such. Mukhi, one of the senior-most MLAs, is seen as a strong claimant for the top post.
“Delhi will decide whether Arvind Kejriwal or Jagdish Mukhi will be a better chief minister. But the way Kejriwal performed in government, there is no competition,” AAP leader Manish Sisodia said at the conference where Kejriwal was present with other party colleagues.
But state BJP chief Satish Upadhyay derided Kejriwal for trying to project Mukhi. “The BJP will contest the elections collectively under the lotus symbol,” he asserted.
The BJP had contested the last elections with Harsh Vardhan as chief ministerial candidate. Vardhan resigned as MLA after being elected to the Lok Sabha and is currently Union health minister.
This time, however, the BJP wants to follow the strategy that paid off well in last month’s Maharashtra and Haryana elections — project the Prime Minister as the mascot, with the slogan Modi government at the Centre and the state, party sources said.
Sensing this, the AAP demanded that the BJP declare a chief minister candidate, like it had done in the past, and tossed up Mukhi’s name. “Tell me a better candidate in the BJP than Jagdish Mukhi,” Kejriwal snapped, asked why the AAP was projecting Mukhi.
The AAP fears it stands no chance if Modi emerges as the overarching face in the minds of the electorate, party insiders said, adding party leaders want to go all out to convince the people that Modi was fine as Prime Minister but Kejriwal was needed as chief minister.
Kejriwal himself underlined the point himself, saying a chief minister was needed in Delhi to reduce the prices of electricity and water — which he had done in his 49-day stint in power — and pointing out that they have gone up since he resigned.
The AAP’s news conference yesterday day appeared focused on holding up Kejriwal as the best chief ministerial candidate, with no state BJP leader to match him.