Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party registered an emphatic and decisive victory in Delhi elections, effectively halting the Narendra Modi wave that had swept the BJP to power at the Centre and three states. In a stunning election result, Kejriwal’s AAP won 67 seats in the 70-member Delhi Assembly and trounced its arch-rival BJP with the party winning only three seats.
The BJP, which was hoping to sail through on the Modi charisma, could not even ensure a win for its chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi. She lost to AAP’s S K Bagga from the Krishna Nagar constituency, considered a safe seat which had sent BJP’s Dr Harsh Vardhan five times to the Delhi Assembly. “I couldn’t live up to their expectations,” Bedi said.
All AAP top leaders, including Kejriwal’s second in command Manish Sisodia, registered wins in the polls. Amid chanting of ‘5 saal Kejriwal’ by a jubilant gathering of his supporters outside the office, Kejriwal thanked his voters. Emerging out of the ‘now-famous’ balcony of the AAP office in central Delhi’s Patel Nagar, Kejriwal said, “This is the victory of honest politics. Like Congress, BJP lost because of its arrogance.”
The party was seen to be in the wilderness after it quit power in February. With no clear majority to any party in 2013, AAP had taken outside support from the Congress. But it was a marriage destined to fail. Kejriwal left mid-way and the party was losing its support base and invited public anger. But, in a remarkable recovery, AAP reconnected with the middle and working class voters and a solid base for this resounding victory was laid.
Sisodia said, “I think the love and enthusiasm shown for a party is historic. Now, there will be a positive competition between the Centre and the state (Delhi). So, far it was negative competition and competition of corruption.”
The rout for the Congress continued as the party lost all eight seats it had won in the last Assembly elections in 2013. After the disastrous performance in the Lok Sabha elections last year, this is the fourth successive loss for the party in Assembly polls. Soon after the results were out, its party face in Delhi, Ajay Maken, resigned as Congress general secretary owning responsibility for the defeat. “Whenever we went to people with our manifesto promises like cheap electricity and right to shelter, people questioned why did you not do in last 15 years. We have to rebuild that credibility among people. We will re-invent the party,” he said.
The results are a shocker for the BJP which had unleashed its entire machinery in the elections to win Delhi which didn’t have an elected government since February 14 when Kejriwal quit as chief minister. The BJP had hoped to retain Delhi after 15 years. The results will raise question marks over projecting Bedi as the CM candidate.
Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called up the AAP leader, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad congratulated Kejriwal: “I congratulate AAP for this win. The Central government will extend all support to the newly elected AAP government. People voted for us in the Lok Sabha. But they decided to go with Kejriwal’s AAP in the state polls. We respect the verdict of the people.”