With only the ninth and last phase of elections 2014 left, and Varanasi the plum constituency to be won or lost, the Aam Aadmi Party has left Delhi to its devices. Its entire leadership is in battleground Varanasi to help Arvind Kejriwal defeat BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi. That this plays well with Congress expectations doesn't matter.
The AAP office on Hanuman Road in Delhi is devoid of AAP members. That has left only journalists to speak for AAP, and the journalist corps in Delhi is packed with Arvind admirers/apologists. "The mood in AAP is upbeat," one of them told dna on Friday. "Arvind will defeat Modi."
Will he? Chances are one in a million. But the realisation that Bharat sarkar will change hands in a matter of days has started to sink in, with even the most stubbornly loyal Congress supporters resigned to the impending change of guard, That 'power' will travel the short distance from 24 Akbar Road to 11 Ashoka Road is being taken as a given though whether that 'power' will be in the hands of Narendra Modi continues to dominate discussions. There are folks who would gladly settle for 'Modi not for PM'.
Is that the feeling in the Congress? We go to the party headquarters on 24 Akbar Road to get an impression, and find that there's not much happening at CPHQ to leave an impression. "What do you want?" asks a man in white. The word 'patrakar' doesn't evince interest. "Neta log are busy fighting a last-ditch battle to stymie Modi's chances," he says listlessly.
Congress has more or less admitted that there will be no UPA-III and that many of its top guns will bite the dust. That's not the worry. The concern is 'Modi for PM'. Rahul Gandhi will be in Varanasi on Saturday to try to help stop that. It's pretty certain he will address people there. What he will speak on is also known. The script has been written: Questions surrounding Modi's caste, that Modi lied on his caste and manipulated matters to get his caste included in the OBC list.
This last phase of Elections 2014 is being fought on 'identity'. The eye is on UP and Bihar seats where identity or one's caste matters. Modi played it first, a day after Priyanka Gandhi called his politics "neech rajniti". Modi turned "neech" on its head and linked it to his caste: "Meri neech jaati ke bhaiyon ko gaali mat do," Modi roared in Domariyaganj in UP.
With that he took on, besides the Congress, also the SP and BSP. On a hot Friday afternoon, we found 'caste' was a recurring topic at 11 Ashoka Road, the BJP headquarters in Delhi. "After raising everything, the Congress and the BSP have gone from disappointment to dejection to attack. They attacked Modi on every front, questioned his personal life, racked up Snoopgate, and when all that failed, they started attacking him on his caste," BJP spokesman Sudhanshu Trivedi told the media. "This is their low level of politics."
The 'Stop Modi' campaign continues, and will continue till well after May 12. Arvind Kejriwal is the last hope not just for AAP, but also for the Congress. As for the BJP, it's turning every other attack on Modi into an opportunity.