CONTINUING its dismal run after electoral defeats in the Mumbai municipal corporation and the Assemblies in Uttar Pradesh,Punjab and Goa,the Congress today meekly surrendered the three newly created municipal corporations in Delhi to the BJP.
Although the partys debacle in civic polls in the national capital is being viewed as warning signals to the Congress regime in Delhi,which goes to polls next year,party sources admitted that the results were a reflection of the larger national mood against the party.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha election,at least 17 major cities in the country,from Bangalore to Jammu,gave their mandate to the Congress. The latest results in Delhi indicate a re-think among people in urban areas in the wake of the total drift and mismanagement by the UPA II government, a senior AICC functionary told The Indian Express.
Making most of this anti-Congress sentiment,apart from the Congress infighting and allegations of rampant corruption,especially during the Commonwealth Games,the BJP routed the Congress in elections to corporations in North Delhi and East Delhi (taking 59 of 104 and 35 of 64 seats respectively) and emerged as the single largest party in South Delhi (winning 44 of 104 seats).
Although it had no star leader at the helm in Delhi,the BJP became the first party in 50 years to return to power in the civic body the Congress had done it in 1962.
Congress leaders believe that the Indo-US nuclear deal and Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs image gave a big edge to the Congress,especially among the urban middle classes,in 2009. The UPA II has,however,squandered these gains and has come to be seen as a government mired in scams and scandals and even the leadership does not inspire the peoples confidence any longer. It is a verdict on the UPA and not on the Sheila Dikshit government and it has serious implications for the Congresss fortune in future elections, said a senior party leader.
The Congress will be especially worried because of the Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat due later this year. One-third of the Asembly seats in Gujarat are urban and if Delhi verdict is any indicator,the Congress may be staring down the barrel in that state also with Narendra Modi likely to start with a clear edge in 60 of the 182 seats in the state Assembly,said party sources.
For Dikshit,now in her third term as CM,the results may well pose a problem given that she personally campaigned for Congress candidates in wards across the city.
There were no immediate comments from her and Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi sought to play down the verdict,saying that MCD polls should be seen only as civic polls.
Five days before the vote,Dikshit appeared to have sensed what lay in store. In an interview to The Indian Express,she said: This is not an election for me. It is an MCD election. When it comes to my election (Assembly polls next year),my referendum will come then.
The BJP,on the other hand,was ecstatic. Party president Nitin Gadkari attributed the victory to good governance in the MCD and the anti-Congress mood in the Capital.
Through these elections,people have given vent to their anger against the misrule of the Congress government,price rise and corruption, said Gadkari,flanked by Delhi BJP chief Vijendra Gupta and senior leader M Venkaiah Naidu.