Delhi is slipping away from the ruling Congress with even the image of Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who has scored a hat-trick of victories in Assembly elections, taking a massive beating this time. The third player in the fray, Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is likely to both eat into the Congress pie and apply the brakes on the BJP's march, leading to a hung Assembly in India's only city state, according to a CNN-IBN, The Week and CSDS Pre-Poll survey.
The survey findings show that the ruling Congress, which has been in power for the past 15 years, is likely to get 19-25 seats in the 70-member Assembly. Surprisingly, the new kid on the block, the AAP, led by anti-corruption activist Arvind Kerjiwal is also projected to get 19-25 seats. The main opposition BJP is marginally ahead with 22-28 seats, according to the seat projections by Dr Rajeeva Karandikar, Director, Chennai Mathematical Institute. If these projections come true, the result will throw up a hung Assembly, making it impossible for any party to form the government unless there are sizeable defections.
The Congress is likely to lose a huge 13 percentage point of votes, while the BJP may lose 7 percentage points. The Congress is expected to get 27 per cent and the BJP is likely to get 29 per cent of the votes, while the AAP is expected to score 28 per cent.
In 2008, the Congress had secured 40.3 per cent votes, and the BJP, 36.3 per cent. The Congress won 43 seats while the BJP bagged 23 seats in 2008. Now the three-horse race is proving costly for both the BJP and the Congress in India's capital.
The AAP has emerged as a formidable force with 25 per cent of the people backing Arvind Kejriwal for the post of Chief Minister. He is the most popular choice, with the sitting chief minister Sheila Dixit commanding just 16 per cent of the popular support, while only 10 per cent of the voters favour the BJP's Vijay Goel for the post. The BJP's actual CM nominee, Harsh Vardhan, has got just two per cent support. However, 28 per cent of respondents favour none of the contestants.
The AAP is expected to damage the Congress and BJP equally as both parties look set to contribute equally to the votes gained by the new entrant. The survey findings show that the Congress has a huge perception problem and the AAP has a huge perception advantage. While the Congress is seen as the most corrupt party, the AAP is being considered the most honest party according to the survey conducted between October 16 and October 24 in 28 Assembly seats, in which a total of 2507 respondents were interviewed in 140 polling stations across Delhi.
The Sheila Dikshit government is facing a strong anti-incumbency for the first time in 15 years. Just 29 per cent of the voters want to give another chance to her government, compared to 49 per cent of the voters in 2008. Over 60 per cent of the voters want Sheila Dikshit to pack her bags and leave this time.
The satisfaction level has also come down from 66 per cent in 2008 to just 43 per cent in 2013. Over 53 per cent people say they are dissatisfied with the government. It was just 28 per cent in 2008.
The price rise of essential commodities with 41 per cent tops the chart as the main reason for dissatisfaction. Poor governance and lack of development with 18 per cent comes second. Corruption occupies the third place with 15 per cent. Surprisingly, the much-talked-about safety of women has got just 2 per cent support as a big election issue.
Interestingly, 35 per cent of the BJP and 16 per cent of the Congress voters are also favouring Kejriwal for the post of Chief Minister. Over 80 per cent of the AAP supporters back him for the top post. The voters of Delhi consider Kejriwal only next to BJP's Narendra Modi for the post of Prime Minister with 14 per cent favouring the former and 51 per cent the latter for the top post in the country.
One more interesting finding is that the satisfaction with Congress MLAs is higher than the satisfaction with the Sheila Dikshit government. Sixty-three per cent voters feel that their Congress MLA have done a good job. But the overall satisfaction level is just 43 per cent.
Delhi has 7 Lok Sabha seats and each Lok Sabha constituency has 10 Assembly seats. In Chandi Chowk, which is Union Law and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal's seat, the AAP and the BJP are ahead of the Congress.
North East Delhi is witnessing a tight contest between the AAP, BJP and the Congress. In Sheila's son Sandeep Dikshit's constituency of East Delhi, all three parties are engaged in a close three-way race. In Congress leader Ajay Maken's seat of New Delhi, it is once again a close triangular fight. In South and West Delhi, the BJP is ahead of the AAP and the Congress. North West Delhi is the only seat where the ruling Congress is ahead of BJP and AAP.
As expected, both first-time voters and young voters are opting for the AAP, with 35 per cent in the age bracket of 18-22 are favouring Kejriwal's party and 38 per cent in the age bracket of 23-25 years backing the AAP. In the age bracket of 26-35 years, 30 per cent voters are supporting the AAP. The AAP has also got 31 per cent of the upper class and 26 per cent of the poor voters' support.