A leader often provides the cue for his lieutenants to pick up. He sets the term for discourse which is carried forward by others. When it comes to a mass leader like Narendra Modi especially, framing of political discourse to seek maximum dividend is almost a second nature. The Delhi election dates are yet to be announced. But already, by lampooning AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal and calling him an anarchist, Modi has given the clearest indication of the contours of the campaign that BJP is likely to run in Delhi. It will be a bitter and negative campaign harping on AAP’s misadventure of 49 days.Why the negative campaign?The obvious question is, why is the BJP looking to embark on this path? The party kept a clean slate in Delhi, winning 7 out of 7 in the last Lok Sabha elections. The party is tipped to win this poll and will probably achieve it without much sweat. But yet, Modi decided to launch a vitriolic attack on AAP. Kejriwal’s party may have its share of faults, but it is a bit of a stretch to equate them with Naxals. If anything, AAP was formed as an ode to the democratic principles of India, when Kejriwal and his ilk decided, much to the chagrin of their mentor Anna Hazare, that joining politics is the only way to bring real change in the system.The fact is, Modi has nothing much to offer as a positive spin. Unlike in states like Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Haryana, where there was an incumbent government which Modi could lambast and mock, Delhi is a picture in contradiction. There is no ma-beti ka sarkar, nor a perceived corrupt dynasty to lynch upon. In fact by-default, the Central government is running Delhi in absence of an elected state government. The law and order situation in Delhi has become more bleak in the last year. The number of crimes recorded has almost doubled, rape cases recorded have increased by 31%. While the rhetoric regarding women security has always been there, the numbers tell a different story. Similarly, the power situation in Delhi hit a new low during the peak months and authorities were caught napping. BJP has been in power of the MCD for a very long time too. So overall, the party doesn’t have much to offer development wise, though it hurriedly brought an ordinance regarding legalisation of colony residents and one on e-rickshaws.But its overall development agenda vis-a vis Delhi is nothing to talk home about. Hence it needs a diversion, to change the prevailing talking point. It doesn’t want to indulge AAP in specific issues of governance, point by point. Modi tried to do so by insinuating that AAP is an irresponsible party. He wants to pit it as a strong David v/s irresponsible Goliath fight, so that the choice in front of the voter is obvious.Will AAP take the bait?After being formed in 2012, AAP started at the micro level, reaching out to different parts of society. It struck a chord, especially with the underclass, which helped them win 28 seats in their debut appearance in the electoral scene. But it lost the plot close to the Lok Sabha election. Arvind Kejriwal, in his bid to launch an audacious leap for power started the entire Ambani-Adani parlance ad nauseam. So much so that AAP and leaders like Kejriwal and Ashutosh became part of popular memes with their often cynical accusation of everyone being involved in a nexus. That, along with the fervour for change and Modi emerging as the most credible challenger, meant AAP was boxed out of the race.But after a sobering experience last May, AAP is back to doing what it originally started out with. By streamlining its operation, AAP is reaching out to every mohalla with its campaign, keeping its ears close to the ground. The party’s social media cell is working overtime to generate a positive buzz. BJP’s strategy is to scuttle AAP’s tactics by hitting them where it hurts the most. In a way, it is resonating the voice of the right, which often equates AAP to the realms of the ‘loony left’. The likes of Prashant Bhushan with their views on certain contentious matters, adds to that chatter. Modi wants AAP to be relegated to a party worth lampooning and spoofing, so that BJP only remains the by-default choice for electorates. It will be interesting to see how AAP responds on the ground to BJP’s onslaught and whether the saffron party will carry forward the tone set by their supreme leader. If AAP decides to get involved in a war words, it will only help BJP in its bid to come back to power in Delhi after 16 years. The summer is coming and it promises to be bloody.

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Delhi Polls: Narendra Modi lays an elaborate trap for AAP, will Kejriwal take the bait?