Delhi BJP president and Member of Parliament Manoj Tiwari gestures during a press conferecne after the party victory in the MCD elections, in New Delhi, April 26. (Vijay Verma/PTI)
@Siliconeer #Siliconeer #IndiaElections @BJP4Delhi #DelhiPolls #MCDPolls #BJP #AAP #CongressPartyofIndia – Steamrolling opposition, the BJP swept the MCD polls, April 26, trouncing the Aam Aadmi Party that ruled Delhi and decimating the Congress, in an election which was billed as a referendum on the Arvind Kejriwal government.
Delhi’s overwhelming rejection of the AAP came barely two years into its meteoric rise in the 2015 Assembly polls when it had clinched an unprecedented 67 of the 70 seats.
It was left with just 48 wards in its kitty out of the 270 spread across the three municipal corporations in the national capital of India, where polls were held.
After its abysmal performance in the 2015 Delhi Assembly polls when it could manage to win just three seats, the BJP added muscle to its decade-long domination of the corporations effortlessly bucking anti-incumbency, with the electorate giving a thumbs up to its gamble of fielding all fresh faces.
The results are being seen as a ringing endorsement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies and a reflection of his unmatched popularity.
Taking forward its stupendous electoral successes in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the BJP won 181 seats, putting paid to Congress’ hopes of a revival in the national capital which it ruled uninterruptedly for 15 years between 1998 and 2013. Congress could win just 30 seats.
AAP’s abject defeat, which came close on the heels of its abysmal performance in the Assembly polls in Goa, where it failed to open account, and poorer than expected show in Punjab, does not portend well for the party which is bracing itself for a bigger battle in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home turf Gujarat. Assembly election is Gujarat is due later this year.
As the AAP hit a political low after successive jolts in the Punjab and Goa Assembly polls, and the Rajouri Garden Assembly bypoll in Delhi, there were murmurs of discontent in the party.
Its Delhi convenor Dilip Pandey resigned while Chandni Chowk MLA Alka Lamba offered to step down owing responsibility for the debacle, pointing towards an impending churning in the party.
Delhi’s Water Resources Minister Kapil Mishra, a popular face, called for “introspection” instead of raking up the issue of alleged manipulation of EVMs.
The ripple effect of AAP’s defeat in Delhi was felt in Punjab where knives were out, with party MP Bhagwant Mann assailing the party leadership for the loss in the assembly election.
Mann alleged that the AAP leadership was behaving like a “mohalla (neighborhood) cricket team” and said there was no use of finding fault with the EVMs.
There were noises of discontent in Congress, too, with Sheila Dikshit, who led the party’s government for 15 years in Delhi, calling for “introspection.”
“The party was not able to reach out (to voters) the way we should have. Any excuse can be given when you don’t want to do anything. The decision has to be taken by the high command.
The leadership needs to introspect,” she said.
Dikshit, who did not campaign, said Ajay Maken, the party’s state unit chief, did not involve senior leaders in electioneering.
“I was not asked for campaigning then how could have I gone for it,” Dikshit said.
A jubilant Modi, meanwhile, expressed his gratitude to the people of Delhi for reposing faith in the BJP and ensuring its resounding victory.
“I laud the hardwork of team @BJP4Delhi which made the resounding MCD win possible,” he tweeted.
In his first reaction, Kejriwal promised all cooperation to the civic bodies and refrained from commenting on EVMs, the “manipulation” of which he had identified as the reason behind AAP’s string of poll upsets.
“I congratulate BJP on their victory in all 3 MCDs. My govt looks forward to working wid MCDs for the betterment of Delhi,” Kejriwal, who went into a huddle with top leaders of the AAP as the results trickled in early in the day, tweeted.
The Congress, which was hoping to bounce back in Delhi, has also been consigned to political wilderness, at least for the time being. Ajay Maken, who steered the party’s Delhi unit over the last two years, resigned.
The grand old party did increase its vote share from 9.7 percent in the 2015 assembly polls to 21.2 percent in the civic elections, but the scale of the defeat overshadowed whatever little gains it made.
In the 2012 municipal polls, BJP had garnered 36.74 percent vote share and the Congress 30.50 percent. The AAP was yet to make its electoral debut then.
The opposition called it a “referendum” on the Kejriwal government and demanded that the CM resign.
Experts credited the BJP’s landslide victory to the “Modi wave,” while the AAP’s debacle was described as the bursting of a political bubble.
Sanjay Kumar, director of the Center for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), was of the view that the AAP’s defeat will “reduce its chances of survival.”
“The way the AAP has been routed, its chances of survival have been reduced. Parties contest elections all the time, they win and they lose as well, it should not be too worrisome for them. But, the AAP’s case is different,” he said.
MCD Polls Held in Transparent Manner: Delhi Poll Commission
The Delhi State Election Commission, April 26, asserted that the civic polls were held in a “transparent and impartial manner,” even as a bruised AAP raised the specter of an “EVM wave” across the national capital.
“The elections and the counting have passed off peacefully. And it proves that we carried out the exercise in a transparent and impartial manner. And, no one can doubt it,” Delhi State Election Commissioner S.K. Srivastava told reporters.
He was responding to a question over AAP leader Manish Sisodia’s “EVM wave” remark earlier in the day, after the poll verdict, which reduced AAP to a distant second.
“EVM tampering is the bitter truth of the country’s democracy. One can crack jokes on us initially, but fearing being made fun of, we cannot refrain from speaking the truth,” Sisodia, the then deputy chief minister of Delhi, told reporters.
A senior minister in the Delhi government, Gopal Rai said an “EVM wave” is sweeping across the city. By 11 AM, only one AAP candidate, Ashok Kumar, had registered a win. He won east Delhi’s Shakurpur ward.
The AAP, led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, had been raising the issue of alleged tampering of EVMs. The Commission, however, remained steadfast on its stand.
On the day of the polling, Srivastava had said, “Out of 13,000 polling stations, EVMs were changed in only 18 cases.
It shows our EVMs are unhackable, robust and no wrong can be done. It (the number) speaks for itself,” Srivastava said, adding that the machines have done well.
He reiterated, his stand that the Generation-1 EVMs, used in the polls, were “foolproof.”
BJP Begins Shortlisting Names for Mayoral Posts
The BJP has begun shortlisting names for mayoral posts in the three municipal corporations in Delhi, a day after it swept the MCD polls for a third time in a row.
Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari will meet the newly elected councillors of the party, April 28, said a senior party leader.
The MCD Act stipulates the appointment of a woman councillor as the first mayor during the five-year term of the municipal corporations. The incumbent holds the post for one year.
The BJP won 181 of the 270 wards in the three civic bodies—North, South, East Delhi Municipal Corporations—that went to poll on April 23.
Half of the 104 wards each in NDMC and SDMC and 64 wards in EDMC are reserved for women. The BJP managed to win 80 seats reserved for women.
Among the newly elected women councillors whose names are doing the rounds for the SDMC mayoral post include former Delhi BJP Mahila Morcha president Kamaljeet Sehrawat and Delhi BJP vice president Shikha Rai, party sources said.
Sehrawat won from the Dwarka B ward in the SDMC with the highest margin. She defeated her nearest AAP rival by a margin of 9,866 votes.
Shikha Rai, the councillor of Greater Kailash, too registered an impressive victory, defeating the AAP candidate by 8,163 votes.
In the NDMC, women councillors being considered for the mayoral post include Mahila Morcha president Poonam Parashar Jha who has been elected from Mubarakpur Dabas ward.
Delhi BJP secretary Preety Agarwal, the councillor from Rohin F. Ward, is also a potential mayoral candidate, they said.
Veena Virmani, who won from Ramesh Nagar Ward, is also in the race. Her husband serves as an OSD to a Union minister, the sources said.
In East Delhi, the names of Shakarpur councillor Neetu Tripathi and Neema Bhagat of Geeta Colony are doing the rounds, they added.
The first meeting of the newly elected councillors will be held after the notification of winners in the election is issued. Mayors, deputy mayors and office-bearers of standing committees of the three corporations will be elected in the first meeting.