New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party appears to be on course to winning all seven Lok Sabha seats of Delhi yet again, as of last count. But this time, it has improved its voting percentage by nearly 10 percentage points. This showed in the margins that ranged from 2.27 lakh to 5.76 lakh.
While signalling a popular vote for the party, the result also showed that the Congress has staged a return in Delhi politics; it came in second in five seats while AAP took the position in the remaining two.
As far as percentage of votes polled was concerned, BJP led by securing over 56%. Congress took the second spot with 22.5% votes and AAP was relegated to the third position with nearly 18.5% votes. This is in sharp contrast to 2014, when AAP came second on all seven seats polling over 33% votes while Congress was third with a little over 15%.
A few days ago, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had stated that Muslim votes had shifted away at the last moment. This was a significant submission since the community had voted heavily for AAP when it won the 2015 assembly election by record margins. The party had polled 54.5% votes and bagged 67 seats in the 70 member house. Congress was not even able to open its account after having ruled in Delhi for 15 years.
However, four years down the line, the equations have changed. The Congress, with former CM Sheila Dikshit at the helm of the Delhi unit, has inched back into recognition. With the 2020 assembly elections just about nine months away, this portends an interesting battle.
The most keenly followed contest was between cricketer Gautam Gambhir of the BJP and education reformist Atishi Marlena of AAP in East Delhi. However, Gambhir ended up winning by 3,90,391 votes. He polled 55.35% of all votes and his nearest rival was former Delhi education minister Arvinder Singh Lovely of the Congress who polled 24.24% votes. Atishi finished third polling 17.44% votes.
Another interesting battle was fought in North East Delhi. Here, sitting Bhojpuri singer and Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari defeated former CM Sheila Dikshit of the Congress by 3,63,971 votes. While Tiwari polled 53.86 per cent votes, Dikshit, who was CM of Delhi for 15 years, got 28.89%. She had said before the voting that she did not want to contest but was obeying party orders. Dilip Pandey of AAP came third and polled 13.07% of the total votes.
The biggest margin of victory in Delhi was again scored by West Delhi MP Parvesh Verma, who got 60.05% of the votes and won by over 5,76,290 votes against former MP Mahabal Mishra of the Congress who got 19.92% votes. Balbir Singh Jakhar of AAP came a distant third, polling 17.47% votes.
Union minister Harsh Vardhan retained his Chandni Chowk seat by defeating four-time former MP J.P. Agarwal of the Congress by over 2.27 lakh votes. While Vardhan polled 52.96% votes, Agarwal secured 29.65%. Pankaj Kumar Gupta of AAP took the third position with a 14.75% vote share.
In New Delhi, lawyer Meenakshi Lekhi of BJP led former Union minister Ajay Maken of Congress by over 2.55 lakh votes. She polled 54.77% of all votes. Maken, who had quit as Delhi Congress president in January, had declared that he would only contest the seat if there was an alliance with AAP. However, despite the two parties not being able to stitch up an arrangement, he was pushed into the contest. He ended up picking up 26.91% votes. Brijesh Goyal of AAP garnered 16.33% of the votes.
The two seats where AAP candidates came second were South Delhi and North West Delhi.
In South Delhi, Ramesh Bidhuri was ahead of Raghav Chadha of AAP by over 3.62 lakh votes. Here boxer Vijender Singh of the Congress could not put up a proper fight as some of the senior party leaders stayed away due to the party ignoring their claims for the seat. While Bidhuri got 56.56% votes, Chadha followed with 26.37% and Vijender with 13.56%.
Likewise, in the SC reserved North West Delhi seat, Sufi singer Hans Raj Hans led his AAP rival Gugan Singh by over 5.53 lakh votes. Here too, the Congress candidate, former legislator Rajesh Lilothia, suffered due to infighting in the party.
His prospects suffered as former Delhi minister Raj Kumar Chauhan resigned and joined the BJP. Earlier another former Congress MP from the seat, Krishna Tirath, had distanced herself from the party. In the end, Hans got 60.47% of the votes, followed by Singh at 21.02% and Lilothia at 16.89%.