The incumbent Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has secured a massive win in the Delhi Assembly polls, attributing its success to “politics of work” against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) “politics of hate”. Polling for Delhi’s 70 Assembly seats was held on Saturday after a fractious election campaign.
The BJP’s defeat in Delhi comes on the heels of it losing in Jharkhand, failing to form the government in Maharashtra, and being forced into a coalition in Haryana after the party fell short of the majority mark.
AAP’s win on Tuesday is being seen as a verdict at a time when nationwide protests are being held against the amended citizenship law, including at the capital’s Shaheen Bagh. The BJP had made Shaheen Bagh the focus of its election campaign, appealing to residents of Delhi to vote out “terrorists”.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who only last month quit as BJP president and was succeeded by J P Nadda, had put his personal prestige at stake by leading the election campaign for the party, addressing several public meetings and also going door to door to contact voters.
During the campaign, AAP, and its leaders including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia, had tried to sidestep the contentious issue of the new citizenship law.
A boy dressed as Arvind Kejriwal, amid celebrations by party workers at AAP’s headquarters in New Delhi | Photo: PTI
They had instead focused on governance issues, particularly related to better schools and health facilities such as ‘mohalla’ clinics, delivery of subsidised power, water supply and free public transport for women.
The AAP won 62 seats in the 70-member Assembly at the time of going to print. It had won 67 seats in the previous Assembly polls in 2015. The party’s vote share of 53.58 per cent this time was only marginally lower when compared to 54.3 per cent in 2015.
The BJP won 8 seats. In 2015, the BJP could win only 3 seats. However, the party improved its vote share significantly from 32.1 per cent in 2015 to 38.5 per cent now.
The BJP had last won a Delhi Assembly poll in 1993 — which was also the first to be held after Delhi was granted partial statehood that year. Despite its successes in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls, where it had won all seven seats in Delhi, the party has struggled at the Assembly level.
The Congress, which under Sheila Dikshit, ruled Delhi from 1998 to 2013, continued to fall into irrelevance in the national capital. For a second successive Assembly election, it could not win even a single seat. Its vote share dropped from 9.6 per cent in 2015 to 4.26 per cent. Only three Congress candidates could secure their deposits.
The BJP, however, continues to control the national capital’s civic authority, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). Some party insiders blamed the loss more on the “poor governance” its leadership in the MCD has wrought rather than its polarising strategy for the polls.