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MCD polls: BJP wave, Congress revival stop AAP at 46 seats

Charu Kartikeya | Updated on: 27 April 2017, 10:33 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) romped home to a massive victory in elections to Delhi's three municipal bodies on Wednesday. The party did not just comfortably cross the half-way mark in all three councils, it improved upon its previous tally, picking up 182 seats out of the total 272. It had won 138 in 2012.

Congress managed a mere 30 seats, down from last time's 77. AAP made a 47-seat debut in the councils, but the fact that it did not win majority is being construed as a referendum on its performance in government.

BJP's new faces win, but vote share dips

BJP's win is accentuated by the fact that the party had not made any of its sitting councillors contest again and had fielded only fresh faces. Thanking voters in the national capital, BJP chief Amit Shah said this mandate was their rejection of the politics of excuses and accusations.

BJP won 38.05% vote share in the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, 38.26% in the South and 43.65 in the East. There has been a dip in the party's vote share from 2012, when the party had won 40.58% in the North, 33.84% in the South and 35.02% in the East. But this is only to be expected as 2012 was a largely two-cornered contest.

Congress unsatisfied, leaders quit

Congress too registered a significant decline in vote share as compared to its performance in 2012. It could manage only 21.06% in the North, 20.83% in the South and 21.13% in the East, as against 31.96%, 29.19% and 30.34% in 2012. Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken resigned following the verdict, saying the party has shown a revival as compared to 2015 assembly polls but it was expecting a better performance.

The party's in-charge for Delh,i PC Chacko, too offered to resign from his position.

AAP claims EVM-tampering, again

This was a high-stakes battle for AAP as the party went into the polls straight after its disappointing run in the latest round of Assembly polls in Goa and Punjab. Being in power in the state, it was expected to bag a majority or at least emerge as single largest party. However, the Delhi voter stuck to his preference of BJP for the civic polls, continuing a decade-old trend that prevailed even when Congress was in power at state level and at the Centre.

AAP bagged vote shares of 27.25% in the North, 25.01% in the South and 22.32% in the East. The party responded to the failure in meeting expectations of a victory by claiming EVM-tampering, once again.

It was only late in the afternoon that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal congratulated the BJP.

Comparison with 2015

The entire picture looks very different if you compare it with the performance of all 3 parties in the Assembly polls of 2015, which were swept by AAP. Its vote share then was 54.3%, which appears to have dipped to around 27%. BJP can be said to have moved up from 32.2% in 2015 to around 38%. Congress emerged as the biggest gainer from this perspective, climbing up to about 22% from a mere 9.7% in 2015.

Many have used this comparison to present it as the evidence of Congress's revival in Delhi.

If that indeed is the case, then it would mean that the Congress's traditional vote-bank, which had left the party overnight for AAP, appears to be switching back to the grand old party. However, these are mere assumptions at this point of time and in no way indicate which way will the same voter go if Assembly elections were to be held in the capital right now. For AAP, the elections themselves, much more than the verdict, carry a message.

The party ran a lacklustre campaign, evidently missing out on matching the BJP in rallies and advertisements. Sources say that was because of a financial crunch affecting the party, but they also say that the bigger problem was a demoralisation in the ranks. The party suffered from a volunteer-crunch too, as several candidates are said to have hired volunteers for campaigns. AAP leadership also appears to be developing a disconnect with the voters on the ground.

First published: 26 April 2017, 17:37 IST
Charu Kartikeya @CharuKeya

Assistant Editor at Catch, Charu enjoys covering politics and uncovering politicians. Of nine years in journalism, he spent six happily covering Parliament and parliamentarians at Lok Sabha TV and the other three as news anchor at Doordarshan News. A Royal Enfield enthusiast, he dreams of having enough time to roar away towards Ladakh, but for the moment the only miles he's covering are the 20-km stretch between home and work.