New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party on Wednesday ended the 15-year rule of the BJP in the prestigious Municipal Corporation of Delhi by winning 134 of the 250 seats in a closely-fought civic body poll. The BJP, which put up a spirited fight was able to retain only 104 municipal wards, while the Congress, which ran a very lacklustre campaign, had to be content with just nine wards, down from 30 in the earlier poll. Three Independents also emerged victorious.
As soon as it became apparent that the AAP was going to register its first win in the civic body election, hundreds of workers and supporters along with leaders thronged the party’s office on Rouse Avenue and congratulated each other by distributing sweets.
Loud music and beats of dhol reverberated across the AAP office that was decked up with colourful balloons. Hoardings reading “Acche honge 5 saal, MCD mein bhi Kejriwal” (the next five years will be good as Kejriwal has come in the MCD) lined the street outside as supporters revelled to the AAP’s official poll song MCD mein Arvind Kejriwal.
In his first address after the victory, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal thanked the people for the AAP’s victory and batted for “positive politics” to ensure that India becomes the number one country in the world. He sought the cooperation of the BJP and the Congress as well as the “blessings” of the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to improve civic amenities in Delhi. He said: “Will try to live up to the expectations of the people, urge parties to come together to improve Delhi.”
Mr Kejriwal said the civic body will be rid of “corruption and bribery”. His deputy Manish Sisodia said it was their mandate that helped the AAP defeat the “world’s biggest and most negative party”.
After losing the elections, the BJP called a meeting of its key office-bearers and newly-elected councillors at the party headquarters on Wednesday evening. Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta said: “Despite 15 years of anti-incumbency, our performance is better. We worked for the people of Delhi at the municipal corporations but may be some people were not happy. There was no anger against the BJP though.”
This AAP win in the MCD polls is the first time it unseated the BJP in any election. Its wins in Delhi have either been against the Congress or a vote of confidence while in power already. In Punjab early this year, it again won against the Congress. AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh pointed to this: “The BJP would always say the AAP has only defeated the Congress. Today, Arvind Kejriwal has given them an answer.”
The BJP swept three of the four wards in the Patparganj Assembly segment and all three in Shakur Basti constituency held by Mr Sisodia and jailed minister Satyendar Jain -- both of whom were targets of sustained attacks over corruption by the saffron party in the run-up to the civic elections.
In Patparganj, Mr Sisodia’s Assembly constituency, the BJP has won three of four wards. The AAP only managed victory in one seat -- Mayur Vihar Phase II. The saffron party fared even better in Mr Jain's Assembly segment, winning all three municipal wards -- Saraswati Vihar, Paschim Vihar and Rani Bagh -- in his Shakur Basti Assembly constituency.
Focusing on beneficiaries of its government’s schemes, making Mr Kejriwal the face of its campaign, and promising a “double engine” of its own with the same party ruling the state and the civic body -- are some of the key factors that helped the AAP cross the halfway mark in the civic elections.
On the other hand, the BJP had an uphill task as it not only faced immense anti-incumbency after being in power for three terms, but also lacked a state leader whose popularity could match that of Mr Kejriwal. Also, the MCD under the BJP was unable to shake the perception of being steeped in corruption and marred by inefficiency.
This was the first election after the MCD was reunified earlier this year. The polls, which took place on December 4, saw a voter turnout of only 50.48 per cent, of over 73 lakh people, from the total of 1.45 crore eligible voters. While the upscale neighbourhoods of South Delhi had seen a low voter turnout, rural pockets and parts of Northeast Delhi, where the riots took place in 2020, registered the highest polling percentages.
Three former women mayors of Delhi -- Neema Bhaga, Satya Sharma and Kamaljeet Sehrawat -- who fought on the BJP ticket emerged victorious, while an ex-mayor of North Delhi Avtar Singh lost the contest in Civil Lines ward. While Ms Bhagat and Ms Sharma have served as East Delhi mayor in the past, Ms Sehrawat is a former mayor of South Delhi. Mr Singh lost to the AAP’s Vikas by a margin of 6,953 votes.
Most candidates hailing from political families emerged victorious, while the richest contender faced a drubbing. AAP’s Aaley Mohammed Iqbal, son of AAP MLA Shoaib Iqbal, trounced his Congress rival Mohd Hamid by 17,134 votes -- the highest victory margin. Iqbal got 19,199 and Hamid bagged just 2,065 votes.
Former Seelampur MLA Mateen Ahmed's daughter-in-law Shagufta Choudhary romped home by 15,193 votes, making it the second highest victory margin. AAP MLA Pawandeep Sawhney's son Punardeep Sawhney won the Chandni Chowk ward by 1,216 votes, defeating Ravinder Kumar of the BJP.
In Tigri, AAP’s Jyoti Prakash Jarwal, the wife of AAP MLA Prakash Jarwal, won over BJP’s Meera by 6,191 votes.
Former Okhla Congress MLA Asif Mohammad Khan's daughter Ariba won from the Abul Fazal Enclave, while former Nangloi MLA Bijender Singh's son Mandeep clinched the Nihal Vihar ward. Former mayor Narendra Chawla's wife Urmila Chawla won from Janakpuri West ward. The BJP's Ram Dev Sharma, the richest candidate to have contested the MCD polls, lost to AAP's Mohd Sadiq by 11,626 votes in Ballimaran.
Among those who lost were Delhi BJP spokesperson Aditya Jha's wife Sunrika Sharma in Dilshad Colony and former Congress MLA Balram Tanwar's son Joginder in the Bhati ward. The only transgender candidate in the fray, Bobi of the AAP, was defeated
Varuna Dhaka of the Congress won by 6,714 votes in Sultanpuri A. Ms Dhaka is daughter-in-law of former Sultanpur Majra MLA Jaikishan.