Instead of taking the outcome as a mandate on its own governance, AAP continues to insist the BJP’s victory is not a win for Modi but for faulty EVMs.
New Delhi: The BJP has swept elections for the three municipal corporations of Delhi, winning an absolute majority in each of them. The party won a total of 181 of the 270 wards to which polls were held on Sunday, April 23. The honeymoon period of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) – which came to power with a thumping majority in the Delhi assembly just two years ago, winning 67 of the 70 seats – appears to have ended. The AAP came a distant second with 48 wards while a resurgent Congress made significant gains in pockets from which it had been completely wiped out in the 2015 elections – and won 30 seats.
The state Election Commission announced that the BJP, which had won 138 seats in the 2012 polls, bagged 36.23% of all votes polled while AAP got 26.23% and Congress 21.09%. As for the other parties, the BSP won three seats polling 4.4% of the votes, and the Indian National Lok Dal and Samajwadi Party won a seat each. Independents bagged a total of six seats.
The saffron party won 64 seats in the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, followed by AAP which won 21 seats and Congress came in third with 15. In MCD south, the BJP won 70 wards, while AAP bagged 16 and Congress 12. In MCD east, BJP won 47 wards, AAP 11 and Congress three. The Janata Dal (United) and new entrant Swaraj India, which was floated by former AAP founders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, could not make much impact and won no wards.
According to SEC data, a total of 1,803 out of the 2,516 candidates also forfeited their deposits and these included 92 from Congress, 38 from AAP and five from BJP. The highest margin of victory was in Dwarka B where Kamaljeet Sehrawat of the BJP defeated Sushma Bansal of AAP by 9,866 votes, while the lowest was in Chhattarpur where Anita Tanwar of the BJP defeated Pinki Tyagi of AAP by just two votes.
While several pollsters and exit polls had predicted a sweep for the BJP in the three corporations, and given it around 220 wards, of which MCD north and MCD south have 104 seats each and MCD east has 64, the party fell far short of the 200-seat mark. However, the BJP, which did not give any of its sitting councillors a ticket in a decision by national president Amit Shah to fight ten years of anti-incumbency and numerous allegations of corruption and misgovernance, appeared enthused with the result.
Its Delhi unit chief and popular Bhojpuri artist Manoj Tiwari, for whom this was the first major political test, was quoted as saying that he was sure that the party would win and that he harboured “no doubt about it”. Later, he said people have chosen to stand with the prime minister and his policies. He assured everyone that Delhi will be made “garbage-free” in three months.
The AAP, on the other hand, continued to remain in denial and insisted that it was not a victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi but for the electronic voting machines (EVMs). “This is an EVM wave, not a Modi wave,” said Delhi minister Gopal Rai. The party has been insisting since the Punjab assembly election results in March that the EVMs can be manipulated and that they are the major cause for BJP’s victory in the recent elections.
In a series of tweets, senior leader and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia indicated why the party was right in calling for an agitation on the issue on Kejriwal’s call. He insisted BJP had worked hard on the EVMs and some of its leaders had even written books on it.
Sisodia’s anger also appeared to stem from the fact that AAP candidates struggled even in his own Assembly constituency and that of minister Satyendra Jain.
It was evident from AAP’s response that it has not taken the outcome of the elections as a mandate on its own governance in the last two years. However, Kejriwal congratulated the BJP and assured cooperation.
However, it has become clear with AAP’s response that it has not taken the outcome of the elections as a mandate on its own governance in the last two years.
A closer look at the trends revealed that while AAP was leading in a total of 47 wards, of which 16 were in MCD south, 21 in MCD north and ten in MCD east, , it had actually lost quite a lot of ground in comparison to the 2015 polls when it had won in 97 wards in MCD south, 92 in MCD north and 49 in MCD east.
While every election is different and contested on different issues, the party would have to do some soul-searching on why from winning in 237 wards in the 2015 polls its popularity dipped so drastically that it lost in about 190 of those wards.
Congress, on the other hand, appears to have made good progress on the ground. From being completely decimated in 2015, when it did not win any assembly seats or lead in any of the municipal wards, the party has this time staged a revival under the leadership of Delhi unit president Ajay Maken who was brought from the central office to lead the party in the capital city.
The party has regained some of its support base among the Dalit and Muslim voters and in the slum clusters, resettlement colonies and unauthorised colonies. This was a major cause behind its lead in 12 wards in MCD south, two in MCD east and 13 in MCD north.
The Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee later put out a tweet showing how the party has improved its performance in the municipal elections.
However, with other party leaders like former chief minister Sheila Dikshit stating that the party should have campaigned more aggressively, Maken offered to step down. While stating that the Congress has seen a “reasonable revival”, Maken added that the party could have “performed a little better”. He said, “As the president of Delhi Congress I take moral responsibility and offer to resign from my post.”