Politics

BJP's Gautam Gambhir Wins East Delhi, AAP Set to Lose on All Seven Seats

According to early election trends, the BJP is presently leading in all seven seats. Have AAP and Congress played into BJP's hands?

New Delhi: With over 55% of the vote, Gautam Gambhir won from the East Delhi constituency, with Congress’ Arvind Singh Lovely trailing with 24.28%.

AAP candidate Atishi picked up around 18% of the vote.

The BJP is poised to win at least five seats in Delhi, leaving the Congress party in the second spot in several constituencies.

As per EC data, BJP had polled 56.56% of votes, while Congress has now come to the second spot with over 22.4% votes followed by AAP at a little over 18%. Congress was also in the second place in five of the seven seats. From AAP, Raghav Chadha in South Delhi and Gugan Singh of North West Delhi were in second position.

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The fact that Delhi’s voters have given the Aam Aadmi Party, BJP and Congress absolute victories in different elections fought in the city over the past decade has made the 2019 Lok Sabha battle another interesting one.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had won all the seven seats by margins ranging from around 1.05 lakh to 2.68 lakh. Riding the Modi wave, it had polled 46.63% of the votes, while AAP got 33.08% and Congress 15.22%. This was a big setback for the Congress which had won all seven seats in 2009 when the Manmohan Singh government returned to power at the Centre.

But only about eight months after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, AAP swept the Delhi assembly elections – winning an astonishing 67 of the 70 seats. It got 54.3% votes. The BJP won the remaining three seat while polling 32.2% of the votes. The Congress was for the first time unable to open its account as its vote share fell to 9.7%. This was primarily because Muslim and Dalit voters deserted it and voted for AAP to defeat BJP.

This time, AAP leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was convinced that if his party and Congress could form an alliance, they would be able to overcome the Modi factor and defeat BJP. His arithmetic was simple: the two parties had polled nearly 48% votes as against BJP’s 46% in the previous Lok Sabha election. Kejriwal also believed that BJP is weaker this time and so an alliance would win all the seats with ease.

But after months of talks, which often died before reviving, the Congress did not agree to AAP’s proposal to have an alliance for multiple states and the talks failed. Under the leadership of former CM Sheila Dikshit the Congress threw its entire weight into the elections. The party also made her contest the North East Delhi seat. This sent a strong message.

A high-pitched battle was also fought between AAP’s Atishi and BJP’s Gautam Gambhir in East Delhi.

After the polls got over, Kejriwal made a candid confession when he said the Muslim voters shifted at the last moment. This has sent out a message that Congress, which came third behind AAP, in all the seven seats in 2014, could pose a serious challenge to BJP in at least some of the seats this time. Also, it improves the prospects of the grand old part for the assembly elections due in 2020.

Apart from attacking Modi government for demonetisation, farmer distress and unemployment, the Congress also attacked Kejriwal government for not delivering on the promises. AAP, for its part, launched a “Pol Khol” campaign against the Congress to remind voters of the corruption during the Sheila Dikshit government. It also attacked the BJP for communalising politics and damaging institutions. The party also made full statehood for Delhi its key demand.

The BJP has gone into the elections on the issue of making the country more secure. It has also been talking about the various ‘achievements’ of the Modi government. The voter did not appear too impressed by all these talks. This was reflected in the voting percentage which dropped by nearly five points, from 65.10% in 2014 to 60.52% this time, during the single phase voting on May 12.