Manish Sisodia, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister and the face of the AAP government’s education reforms, fought a nerve-wracking battle to retain his Patparganj seat on Tuesday.
What was expected to be a cakewalk for Sisodia, arguably the most recognisable face from the party after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, turned into a nail-biter with BJP’s Ravinder Singh Negi coming out ahead in six of the 15 rounds during counting of votes.
While Sisodia eventually got 69,974 votes, Negi got 66,703 votes. At 11 am, inside Patparganj counting centre at the CWG Sports Complex near Akshardham temple, a white board indicated Sisodia was trailing by 1,500 votes. Around noon, when counting of round six was done, the tally indicated that BJP’s Negi was leading by 2,182 votes. “Matlab logon ko padhai nahi karni,” lamented an AAP worker.
As Sisodia and Negi paced from one table to another where counting was underway, Sisodia wore a restless look, while Negi sported a saffron jacket and a wide smile for cameras.
By 12.30 pm, the margin had narrowed to 859 votes; half an hour later, it went down to 556. Just as it appeared that Sisodia might overtake his rival, at 1.20 pm, the margin increased to 1,288. Sisodia sat in a corner with party workers, with a glum expression. At the party headquarters, however, celebrations had begun.
Around 2 pm, Sisodia’s luck turned around and he was back in the lead. After round 11, he was ahead by 656 votes, and by the end of round 12, he was leading by 2,073 votes.
Visibly relieved, Sisiodia asked, “Arvind ji clear ho gaye kya?” His party workers informed him that Atishi from Kalkaji, Raghav Chadha from Rajinder Nagar and Imran Hussain from Ballimaran were leading. Once Sisodia’s victory was confirmed, his supporters chanted: “Shiksha mantri kaisa ho? Manish Sisodia jaisa ho.”
Even before the final numbers could be updated, Sisodia left after saying, “People have voted for all the work that Kejriwal has done… The work he did as their son; they have rewarded him by making him the CM third time in a row. I am very happy to be Patparganj’s MLA again. There was flip-flop (today) but a lot of work was done in Patparganj. Ye shiksha ki jeet hai.”
After this began his victory rally through Akshardham area, where volunteers showered rose petals, danced and sang ‘Lage Raho Kejriwal’.
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