Civic polls help Tiwari emerge as key BJP face in Delhi

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New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) The BJP’s hat-trick in the capital’s municipal polls is being seen as a feather in the cap of the party’s Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari and it has helped him emerge as a key face of the party in the national capital.

Tiwari, who represents Delhi’s northeast parliamentary constituency, was appointed city unit chief by Bharatiya Janata Party’s President Amit Shah in December last year — only months before the civic polls.

The BJP had tough task on hand, especially after being at the helm of the three Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCDs) for full ten years. The party councillors were perceived to be facing anti-incumbency sentiments and the party had badly lost the last assembly elections.

Tiwari made a bold announcement that no sitting councillor would be repeated by the party. He made efforts to increase the party’s influence among the poorer sections, which are seen to be inclined more towards the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress. He repeatedly visited slum colonies and also stayed there.

As Delhi has a large migrant population, Tiwari, who hails from Bihar, also made efforts to woo these sections.

The party candidates used picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on their posters to get votes, and some of party’s top leaders, including Shah, campaigned in the city. The BJP workers said that Tiwari and his team worked at the grassroots level to see that the support generated for the party was translated into votes.

“In Delhi, there is a very huge section of Poorvanchali voters, and as he himself is a superstar of Poorvanchal, he connected well with these voters, most of whom reside on rent in Delhi,” BJP National Secretary Sardar R.P. Singh told IANS.

“Before the civic body elections, we had figured out that a big section of the city’s population is tenant and resides in the JJ (jhuggi-jhompri) colonies and slum clusters, so we focussed on what Kejriwal can give to them and we can’t,” Singh said.

Electricity at reduced tariff, free water and free Wi-Fi was not an issue at those places, he said.

Explaining the turning point in connecting with the voters of the slum clusters and JJ colonies, the BJP leader said, “In Delhi, we had a programme of night halt in any of the slum colonies to listen to their grievances.”

“And when he was appointed as the Delhi unit chief, I proposed to spend a night at the Gas Godown slum colony, which he (Tiwari) readily agreed to.”

“And when he spent the night in the slum colony, the people of slums and JJ colonies understood that there is someone who is ready to listen to their issues and problems,” the BJP leader added.

Although the BJP has won municipal polls three times in a row, it has not been able to win a majority in Delhi assembly in the last four polls.

There has also been a perception that the party lacked a popular and charismatic local face. In the 2015 assembly polls, when former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Kiran Bedi was made the chief ministerial face barely days before the elections, the party could win only three of the assembly’s 70 seats.

The party had won 32 seats in 2013 assembly polls when it projected Harsh Vardhan as the chief ministerial candidate. He is now the Union Science and Technology Minister.

The results of municipal polls have seen the Aam Aadmi Party finishing a distant second and the Congress third.

(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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