The voting percentage in these elections is starkly similar to what was witnessed in the 2013 Assembly elections after which AAP had formed its first government in Delhi.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has a reason to both rejoice and be worried about the results of the by-elections to the 13 seats of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). The party should be happy that it bagged the largest number of five seats, opening its account in an emphatic style, and scoring more than the Congress which got four and BJP which won three seats, but at the same time it should be worried about its declining vote share.
The maiden entry into the civic body has clearly enthused the AAP leadership. The party convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that AAP had won the maximum number of seats in the by-elections.
The election results have clearly buoyed the AAP and raised its hopes of winning the civic body polls scheduled in 2017. AAP leader Ashish Khaitan also tweeted that the party would also provide honest governance in the MCD in 2017 and would improve the condition of municipal schools and hospitals.
While on the face of it, the performance of AAP should have worried both the Congress and the BJP, the fact that leaders of both the parties appeared in a celebratory mood speaks a lot about the other side of these results. So why are the two parties upbeat even after getting less seats than the AAP?
The leader of the opposition in the Delhi assembly, Vijender Gupta of BJP, claimed that the results have proved that a year after AAP came to power in Delhi by getting nearly 55% votes and winning 67 of the 70 Assembly seats, its magic has vanished. Terming AAP a “new experiment”, he claimed people had moved away from the party due to “inaction of its legislators in zonal development, rising prices and corruption.”
Gupta sought to draw parallels with the 2013 Assembly election results, in which BJP had emerged as the single largest party with the highest vote share, by indicating that the BJP had got 34%, as against 29% of AAP and 24% of the Congress this time as well.
However, Congress leader Ajay Maken said such comparisons are odious as it is not essential that every party contests all the seats keenly. “We focused on just five seats due to lack of resources. So this would not be a right comparison.”
An aspect that goes in favour of the AAP is that the municipal by-elections are fought on a different local agenda and on a much smaller scale than Assembly elections. Also, they do not throw up any chief minister and so do not attract a high voter turnout.
But still AAP would do well to ponder if it could have won more seats by doing some things differently in the past one year. After all, nine of the 13 seats that went to by-elections had been vacated by councilors who are now the AAP MLAs.