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From attacking AAP to playing nationalism card: Amit Shah changes Delhi polls narrative

NEW DELHI:  Ravinder, 34, works as a security guard with a private firm. Born and brought up in a lower-middle-class colony of south Delhi, he voted for the Aam Aadmi Party in 2015, just like many others from his social strata.

Five years later, his support for the AAP has not diminished.

“The party has provided free electricity, free bus rides to women and installed street lights at many places,” he said, revealing the reasons for his faith in Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his party.

But in the past one week to 10 days, a new element has crept into the discourse in his social circle. From only bijli, paani, schools and mohalla clinics, the success stories the AAP loves to trumpet, Shaheen Bagh, Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the tukde-tukde gang have entered the topics of discussion.

“When there was violence (during the CAA protests) the AAP didn’t say anything and played safe. (Narendra) Modi is a good Prime Minister and that’s why people voted for him (in 2019),” Ravinder said.

“Recently people from the AAP came and said the Bharatiya Janata Party is spreading wrong information on CAA. But why would they spread wrong information? So far whatever Modiji has done, they were for the benefit of the nation. I don’t see anything wrong in CAA,” said Kushal Chand, 44, who runs a grocery shop and is an AAP supporter.

Come February 8 when Delhi will cast its vote, both Ravinder and Kushal will most likely vote for the AAP, but they admitted that Shaheen Bagh and CAA also occupied their mindspace.

This was not so until even 15 days back, when conversations in the Delhi Metro, salons, roadside eateries, parks and drawing rooms centred mainly around free water and subsidised power.

The AAP was also setting the tone of the campaign till just a fortnight ago, bringing out a report card of its tenure and a guarantee card on its promises.

The BJP and the Congress were forced to play catch-up, reacting and debunking every AAP boast of its work.