AAP’s landslide win shows voters don’t really care about how much their MLAs spend

The things that went in AAP's favour were issues like bijli-paani, CM preference and the minority vote.

Written by Leela Prasad | New Delhi | Updated: February 12, 2015 7:38 pm
AAP, AAP MLAs, AAP news The things that went in AAP’s favour were issues like bijli-paani, CM preference and the minority vote.

Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay thinks BJP should never have lost Krishna Nagar, Tri Nagar and Palam in the recently concluded Assembly Elections.

But he seems unaware of the fact that his party MLA from Krishna Nagar didn’t spend even a single paisa in the constituency in the past year. That is because Dr Harshavardhan resigned as MLA in May 2014 before taking over as a Union Minister.

In contrast, former BJP MLA from Tri Nagar, Nand Kishore Garg, spent Rs 5.75 crore in his constituency on development works in 2014 alone. Dharam Deo Solanki, then BJP MLA from Palam, spent Rs 4.53 crore, 53 lakhs over the Rs 4 crore per year sanctioned to every MLA in Delhi.

But that was not good enough for them to hold on to their seats. Nand Kishore lost by 22,311 votes and Solanki lost by 30,849 votes.

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After AAP candidate S K Bagga edged out BJP’s CM candidate Kiran Bedi in a surprise win in Krishna Nagar, he said: “People are not stupid. They will not continue to vote for you if you have done nothing for the constituency.”

In the top 10 list of funds utilised by MLAs, BJP has five, AAP four and Congress one. The average amount of funds spent by the top five BJP MLAs is Rs 4.95 crore; AAP MLAs spent Rs 4.74 crore. CM-designate Arvind Kejriwal does not figure in the top 25 list.

Upadhyay said the development works carried out by the party in the last few months may not have reached everyone like they should have. But an election is won on many fronts and the actual work done on the ground is just an addition to the sum total. The things that went in AAP’s favour were election-specific issues like bijli-paani, CM preference and the minority vote.

In the post-poll survey conducted by Lokniti-CSDS, 15 per cent voters considered bijli-paani as the second most important election issue after corruption (17%). Out of the 70 MLAs, only Kulwant Singh Rana spent over Rs 1 crore in installing street lights. After Kulwant Singh, four AAP MLAs make up the top five MLAs.

When it came to water works like laying new drains, setting up water purifying units and hand-pumps, only 13 MLAs used their funds from MLAD. Nine were from BJP and the remaining four were from AAP. The nine BJP MLAs spent a collective amount of Rs 1,479.15 lakh, at an average of Rs 164.35 lakh. The four AAP MLAs collectively spent Rs 163.38 lakh that is lower than what an average BJP MLA had spent. But who spent on what and which sector was funded wasn’t the issue in this election. Parties promising to bring down electricity tariffs and water bills had become a priority for voters.

And it is an open secret in our secret ballot system that voters usually vote for the party than the candidate. This doesn’t hold true for high-profile candidates, however. In another Lokniti-CSDS survey, 29% of Delhi voters said they voted based on the party, 18% based on candidate, and 32% based on the CM choice. Despite Arvind Kejriwal not even making it into the top 10 list of MLAs who spent funds on water and electricity works, Delhi voted for AAP since he was the face of their campaign.

Lastly, the minority vote also gave AAP a nudge towards breaking the 60-seats ceiling. An unprecedented 77% Muslim voters rallied behind AAP in this election. Muslim-dominated constituencies like Chandni Chowk (Rs 4.63 crore), Matia Mahal (Rs 4.9 crore) and Okhla (Rs 3.26 crore) were heavily funded by their sitting MLAs in the run-up to the elections, but all these constituencies were swept by AAP.

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