10:10 am - Thursday November 5, 2015

Resurgent Kejriwal, popular Bedi: ABP snap poll proves BJP made right CM pick

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Quelling voices of dissent within the party, the BJP finally laid all speculation to rest by declaring Kiran Bedi as its chief ministerial candidate and allocating her a ‘safe seat’. Going by the numbers of the latest opinion poll, it may have been the right move made at the right time.
A snap opinion poll held by ABP News-Nielsen on Monday revealed that Bedi is already neck-to-neck with AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal as the people’s preference for Delhi chief minister. The poll found that while 47 percent of the respondents wanted Kejriwal as chief minister again, Bedi has 44 percent of the respondents in her favour.
However, the poll, which surveyed 1,489 people between 17 January to 19 January, also found that 43.8 percent of the respondents would have preferred Bedi join Aam Aadmi Party while 32.9 percent felt that she was right in joining the BJP, with 23 percent saying it didn’t matter which party she joined.
But here’s the bad news for BJP: a majority of the respondents in the poll said that the inclusion of Bedi wouldn’t influence their decision on which party they would vote for. Worse, 46 percent planned to vote for AAP and 45 percent for the BJP.The last major opinion poll conducted by India Today Group-CICERO in December predicted that while the AAP would get between 25-3 1 seats, the BJP was likely to end up with 34 to 40 seats. The Cicero survey gave AAP 36 percent of the vote share and 39 percent to the BJP. To be clear, it is difficult to compare the two sets of numbers, as ABP poll refers to individual respondents, while the Cicero looks at vote share and seat counts. But despite discounting such disparities, ABP offers good tidings for the AAP.
However, there is no doubting the impact of Bedi’s entry on the numbers for preferred CM. Kejriwal was favoured by 35 percent in the Cicero survey, which was almost double that of the the closest contestant Union Ministry of Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan at 19 percent. Bedi, who hadn’t declared her political ambitions at the time, was favoured by just 3 percent of the respondents. In this context, the ABP numbers represent a huge jump and a ringing endorsement of Modi’s decision to pick Bedi.
If Bedi can help the BJP peel away voters attracted to AAP because of Kejriwal’s anti-corruption credentials, we should see the party pull ahead in the weeks to come.
But despite BJP’s hope that Bedi will be able to neutralise the Kejriwal factor, it has been careful to shield their CM candidate from a head-to-head contest.
The BJP is fielding her from the Krishna Nagar seat in east Delhi, one that was formerly held by Dr Harsh Vardhan since 1993, and is considered one of its safest seats in the capital.
The elevation of Bedi, as Firstpost editor Sandipan Sharma pointed out , was inevitable given that the Delhi BJP rdid not have a major personality to counter the resurgence of Kejriwal and the AAP. As he pointed out, every opinion poll since November 2014, has shown the BJP’s popularity declining with some independent polls even suggesting the AAP had inched ahead of the election. The ABP poll confirms that it was indeed time for bold and decisive action to stem the erosion.
Now that the deed is done, it remains to be seen whether Bedi can indeed stem the AAP momentum, or whether her rivals can turn her into a liability rather than an asset.

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