AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal waves at party volunteers as they celebrate the party’s victory in the Delhi Assembly polls, at Patel Nagar in New Delhi, Feb. 10. (Subhav Shukla | PTI)
Halting the Modi juggernaut, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) today scored a landslide victory in the Delhi Assembly election by snatching 67 of the 70 seats after steamrolling BJP leaving it with only three seats and decimating Congress which drew a blank. A Press Trust of India report.
In an election that was billed by the opposition as a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the AAP tornado threw veterans of both BJP and Congress into the electoral dustbin in their traditional bastions. BJP leaders accepted the defeat as a “setback” but dismissed suggestions that it was a vote against the Modi government’s performance.
The AAP’s feat was rarely achieved in any state in the past. Only once in 1989, the Sikkim Sangram Parishad had won all the 32 seats in the Assembly.
46-year-old-former Revenue Service official, Arvind Kejriwal, who spearheaded the party’s victory march, was later elected leader of the AAP Legislature Party after which he staked claim to form government.
Lt Governor Najeeb Jung conveyed to Kejriwal that he will send a report to the President, a formality enabling government formation.
Kejriwal won the prestigious New Delhi seat by a margin of over 31,500 votes defeating the nearest BJP rival Nupur Sharma, a political novice. Former Minister and Congress veteran Kiran Walia came a poor third with 4,700 votes and lost her deposit.
The BJP gamble of bringing in rank outsider Kiran Bedi, a former IPS officer and an erstwhile associate of Kejriwal in the anti-corruption movement, backfired hugely.
A party that won all the seven seats in the Lok Sabha election nine months ago, BJP’s humiliation was complete when Bedi lost in the traditional stronghold of Krishna Nagar that was long held by its veteran Harsh Vardhan. She lost by more than 2,000 votes.
Congress’ CM candidate Ajay Maken also suffered a crushing defeat by a margin of over 50,000 votes at the hands of a novice from AAP, Som Dutt in Sadar Bazar constituency, and lost his deposit. Maken resigned as Congress General Secretary taking responsibility for the debacle.
Those who bit the electoral dust included BJP leaders Jagdish Mukhi, Ramvir Singh Bidhuri and Krishna Tirath who had defected from Congress on the eve of election and Congress leaders A.K. Walia, Harun Yusuf, Chaudhury Prem Singh and Raj Kumar Chouhan, who are all former ministers and Mahabal Mishra, a former MP.
International Media Hails AAP Triumph, Terms it ‘Political Earthquake’
International media today described Aam Aadmi Party’s stunning electoral triumph over the BJP in Delhi as a “political earthquake”, taking a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meteoric rise to the helm by saying – “After all, what goes up must come down.”
The New York Times dubbed BJP’s defeat, less than a year after the party’s victory in the polls at the center, as a “smaller political earthquake.”
“Less than a year after Narendra Modi won a historic victory to become India’s new prime minister, a smaller political earthquake struck the capital on Tuesday, as partial results indicated that Mr Modi’s governing party had been crushed in local elections by a young political organization led by an anti-corruption campaigner (Arvind Kejriwal),” the daily said.
Washington Post termed it as “stunning defeat” at the hands of the “upstart anti-corruption Common Man Party.”
“The contest was widely viewed as a measure of Modi’s political clout here. The bitterly fought election for control of the legislative assembly mark the first political setback to Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since he became prime minister last May,” the paper said.
“Riding on Modi’s soaring popularity, the BJP had won in a number of state elections in recent months, and they were expected to repeat their success Tuesday – a phenomenon dubbed Modi’s ‘victory chariot’ by the media. But Delhi proved to be a tough battle for the BJP because of the appeal of the charismatic Kejriwal, a former tax officer-turned anti-corruption activist,” it said.
CNN invoked Isaac Newton’s physics principle to take a jibe at Modi, saying, “This week New Delhi will be talking about a very different scientific discipline: physics. After all, what goes up must come down.”
“Since winning a broad mandate in national elections last May, and then repeating the feat in state elections across the country, India’s ruling BJP has suffered a rude shock in Delhi’s state elections,” the major U.S. news channel said.
BBC also highlighted that this was the “first major setback for Prime Minister Modi who has enjoyed huge popularity since taking office last year, winning a string of local elections and wooing international investors and world leaders.”
London’s The Telegraph termed BJP’s defeat in the Delhi polls, in which the Congress drew a blank, as a “humiliating landslide” while Guardian described the stunning result as a “blow for Modi.”
Netizens Go into Frenzy at AAP Win
The landslide victory of Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi Assembly elections took the social media by storm as netizens across the country went into a frenzy to congratulate the Arvind Kejriwal-led party.
Hashtags like #AAPSweep, #AAPKiDilli, #KisKiDilli and #DelhiLegislativeAssembly trended throughout the day on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.
According to Twitter India 3,47,760 tweets were recorded throughout the day to “celebrate Kejriwal’s victory.”
Actress Shabana Azmi posted, “The indian voter deserves all our respect. Congratulations to #AAP. Dilli ne keh diya ab tumhare hawale watan saathiyo. ball is in your court (sic).”
Filmmaker Pritish Nandy tweeted, “Indian voters are very sharp. Never underestimate them. They know the power they wield.”
Director Shekhar Kapoor wrote, “And now, Dear @ArvindKejriwal it’s time for you to prove you deserve the immense faith that Voters have put on ur shoulders #DelhiDecides.”
AAP leader and actress Gul Panag wrote, “What makes this victory sweeter is that it was won against all odds. I bow to the effort and energy of every AAP volunteer.”
Author Chetan Bhagat tweeted “An apology from the PM for losing touch with the people would go a long way. Followed by major anti-corruption reforms and changes in BJP.”
Director Ram Gopal Varma posted, “Everyone who thought Aap was a joke now realize that the joke is on them. Moral of story, don’t joke with a joke or the joke will joke you.”
Interestingly, Tata Nano, the small car from Tata Motors was also trending on Twitter with people sharing jokes about it having more seats than BJP in Delhi.
One Abhishek Aggarwal tweeted, “and no wonder tata nano is trending in India. tata nano has more seats than bjp.”
Bollywood star Farhan Akhtar also congratulated AAP and tweeted, “People of Delhi gracefully say ‘Pehle AAP.’ Congratulations to Arvind Kejriwal and his team. Time to live up to the peoples hope & trust.”
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Kejriwal and posted, “Spoke to @ArvindKejriwal & congratulated him on the win. Assured him Center’s complete support in the development of Delhi.”
After it was evident that AAP is heading for a landslide victory, Kejriwal tweeted a photo with his wife hugging him and posted, “Thank u Sunita for always being there.”
Party leaders from across the country also congratulated him on the social media.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee also congratulated Kejriwal for the victory. She tweeted, “My hearty congratulations to AAP for sweeping Delhi Elections. All the best @ArvindKejriwal the new CM.”
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah posted, “Wow, well done #Delhi & well done @AamAadmiParty. Good luck to @ArvindKejriwal for the next 5 years.”
Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray tweeted, “Uddhav ji and I called up and congratulated @ArvindKejriwal ji for his massive, decisive victory in #Delhi. #DelhiElections #DelhiResults”
BJP leader and Home Minister Rajnath Singh posted, “Congratulated Shri @ArvindKejriwal on his electoral success over the phone. Center has assured him full cooperation for Delhi’s development.”
According to social media watchdog Buzzooka ‘#AAPSweep’ was trending at the top spot in India with 61,000 tweets till the night.
A lot of netizens were also seen taking a dig at BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi for the party’s defeat.
“#AAPSweep It took 20 days for @thekiranbedi to ruin all the hard work party workers have done in years!” wrote Neha Gupta.