The winner of the MCD polls is almost a foregone conclusion. There are really only 2 questions left to ask:
(A) Will the BJP cross 200 seats?
(B) Will AAP get even less seats than Congress?
I am reasonably confident about (A). Regarding (B), I would have said “Yes” a week ago. But now that the Congress has been badly rocked by last minute defections, I am not totally sure.
What it boils down to is that both Questions (A) and (B) are ultimately about how AAP’s cadres are able to perform on the ground.
The *real* test of cadre is when you are losing an election. AAP knows it’s losing. We all know it’s losing. This is when the cadre faces its real test. Can they hold the line? Can they limit the damage? Can they prevent collapse and panic in their ranks.
This is where BJP generally excels. Not in handling victory, but in handling defeat. This has to do both with the nature of the BJP cadre and the nature of the BJP voter. The BJP cadres, trained generally by RSS, are able to hold the line in a “losing election”. They put up a disciplined performance. The party loses, but it doesn’t get wiped out.
The best example of this was Rajasthan which is generally known for sweeping verdicts. In 2008, Vasundhara Raje knew the BJP was going to lose. And they did lose. But the disciplined cadre held the line, got their core voters out and fought a determined battle. They lost 78-95 to Congress. A gap of just 17 seats. Compare it to the loose Congress cadre that just bolted in the face of defeat in 2013, leaving the Congress in the dust with just 21 seats to the BJP’s 163.
This is a general feature of BJP cadres. Was Advani’s leadership from 2004 to 2013 really any better than how Rahul Gandhi is doing today for Congress? But unlike BJP, the Congress today is suffering mass desertions from its ranks. No such exodus was witnessed from BJP ranks during the UPA years. Look at Delhi where the BJP was out of power and out of contention for 15 years. Can you name any BJP leader of any standing who joined Congress? Compare it to the Congress leaders making a beeline for BJP in Delhi. It was just 3 years ago when they were in power.
In Bihar, the BJP fought to the last vote. In fact, after suffering a disaster in the first phase, the cadre actually fought harder and actually improved the party’s performance in the next phases. Compare it to how the SP lost steam and collapsed once it was spooked by the first two phases. We lost Bihar, but I am really proud of the way BJP fought an impossible election. To the last man. To the last vote.
Ironically, the only time I have seen BJP collapse was in Feb 2015 in Delhi. That was a cadre revolt. The General had quit the battle, handing over the reins to an effigy called Kiran Bedi. What else was going to happen? The cadres and leaders bolted en masse. Otherwise, there was no way the BJP could have lost an RSS bastion like Krishna Nagar.
Today, a similar test lies for AAP cadres. Can they bail out their leader? Can they reach 75 seats? Can they keep the AAP’s nose ahead of the Congress? In other words, can they hold the line?
My impression of AAP cadres is very dim. They are without discipline and operate merely on media hawa. With the hawa against them, I expect to see no wind in their sails at all.
This takes a kind of training and discipline that is simply not on the AAP’s horizon. To be fair, they are too new to have evolved such processes.
If AAP manages to cross 75 today (out of 272), I will develop a new kind of respect for AAP cadres. The real test of character is when you fight bravely in face of adversity. But I am fairly confident I won’t have to. If the AAP volunteer is anything like his leader … moody, irritable, irresponsible and obsessed with blaming others, they have no chance at all.
Good luck Kejriwal. You’re gonna need it to avoid a nervous breakdown when the results come out.