The Aam Aadmi Party is poised to win the Municipal Corporation of Delhi polls, with around 85% of the votes counted. The party, which is in power in the Delhi government, had won 84 seats and was leading on 53 at 12.10 pm.
It is the BJP, however, which appeared to be bucking the trend predicted by exit polls, winning 65 seats and leading in 35 at 11.50 am. No exit poll showed the party getting more than 91 seats.
For AAP, the win is not as convincing as it would have liked. According to senior party leaders, even their most conservative estimates had shown them winning 150 seats.
While celebrations started in the party office early in the day, senior leaders including Manish Sisodia, Raghav Chadha and Bhagwant Mann were in a huddle at the house of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal since the morning.
“Our performance has not been what we had thought it would be. While that is disappointing, we are sure that we will win. The reasons for the below par performance will be analysed in the days to come. For now, our focus is on keeping the winning councillors together and avoiding chances of the BJP pulling off ‘Operation Lotus’ (luring the councillors) and buying them off,” said a senior AAP leader.
While the BJP office was mostly deserted in the morning, leaders started coming in as results showed the party putting up a spirited fight.
The BJP has ruled MCD since 2007 – before the trifurcation and after it was divided – and 2022 was its pitch for a fourth consecutive term in office.
While AAP focused on issues such as garbage, poor governance and corruption, the BJP’s campaign was centred around videos of Satyendar Jain allegedly getting preferential treatment in jail. The party kept its focus on allegations of corruption against AAP leaders, which was birthed from the anti-corruption movement of 2012 in the Capital. It also had Union ministers as well as Chief Ministers from other states spread out across the city to campaign, unusual for a municipal election.
According to senior party leaders, their performance can be credited to the strategic campaign and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity.
“It is clear that there is no real anti-incumbency against the BJP. Had there been, we would not have the results that we see emerging. The people of Delhi have shown immense love for Modiji in the past and will continue to do so. We are still not out of the fight. Many people want to join the BJP and some joined other parties only because they couldn’t get tickets from us,” said a leader.
According to the State Election Commission data of the votes counted, AAP had polled 42%, the BJP 39% and the Congress 12%.
In the 2017 MCD polls, the BJP’s vote share was 36%, AAP’s 26% and the Congress’s 21%.