OPINION | Delhi MCD results: Lessons for Kejriwal, BJP and Congress

Image Source : INDIA TV. OPINION | Delhi MCD results: Lessons for Kejriwal, BJP and Congress.

Delhi MCD results: Aam Aadmi Party captured the Municipal Corporation of Delhi on Wednesday, ending BJP’s 15-year rule. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s party won 134 seats in the 250-member municipal corporation, which commands the second’s largest civic body budget in India after Mumbai. BJP managed to bag 104 seats, much less than its 2017 score of 181 seats.

The Congress was virtually decimated. It managed to get only a single-digit score of nine seats, compared to the 31 seats it had won five years ago. Congress’ seat share was reduced to nearly one-third. BJP consoled itself by saying that though its seat share was reduced, its vote share jumped from 36.1 pc to 39.1 per cent this time. AAP’s vote share rose from 26.2 pc to 42.1 per cent.

The bottomline is clear: Kejriwal won and the BJP lost the MCD polls. But the significant point to note is that Kejriwal’s top ministers lost most of the wards in their respective constituencies.

Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, facing charges of corruption in liquor and school scams, lost three wards in his Patparganj constituency to BJP. On Wednesday, Sisodia avoided mentioning this, but said, that “kattar beimaan” (extremely corrupt) leaders lost and the people of Delhi voted for ‘kattar imaandar’ (extremely honest) leaders.

Another controversial minister in Kejriwal cabinet, Sayendar Jain, presently cooling his heels inside Tihar jail on money laundering charges, faced defeats in all the three wards of his Shakur Basti constituency to BJP. A third minister Kailash Gehlot, named in liquor and bus purchase scams, lost all four wards in his Najafgarh constituency to BJP and independent candidates.

AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan, named in Delhi Waqf scam, lost 4 out of 5 wards in his Okhla constituency, two to BJP and remaining two to Congress.  The moot point is: voters of Delhi took the charges of corruption against AAP leaders seriously. BJP leader Kapil Mishra said, the MCD poll results clearly indicate the “beginning of the end” of the road for Arvind Kejriwal.

In his acceptance speech, Kejriwal took a careful stance. He said, “we will have to end corruption. It is a big responsibility. The people of Delhi have given us a message. We are a party of good and civilized people. We do not indulge in negative politics. We have shown that we can get votes if we provide good schools and hospitals.”

The results indicate that though the BJP circulated videos of Satyendar Jain inside Tihar jail and highlighted corruption charges against Sisodia, these had effective impact only in the constituencies of these leaders, but not in other constituencies. This does not mean that by winning the MCD elections, AAP leaders facing charges, have got a clean chit from the people. It is for the courts to decide on matters relating to money laundering and corruption. These are issues on which Kejriwal will also have to take a call, sooner or later.

In his acceptance speech, Kejriwal also indirectly indicated that his party AAP is emerging as a new political alternative in India. He said, “even after 75 years of independence, there has not been adequate progress, and the people are unwilling to wait any more. Our party will prefer positive politics, and provide better schools, hospitals and other facilities.”

BJP leaders may cite various reasons for losing the MCD polls, but I do not agree with most of their arguments. Kejriwal did not get as many seats in MCD as he had claimed. BJP may have got 30 seats less than AAP, but a victory is a victory.

There is no force in the argument that anti-incumbency factor worked in Delhi due to BJP’s 15-year rule in MCD. My counter is: In Gujarat, BJP has been ruling consistently for 27 years, and on Thursday, it scored a historic, record-breaking landslide win. The anti-incumbency factor did not work in Gujarat.

BJP will have to think afresh about Delhi. It lacks an impressive personality in Delhi politics who can challenge Kejriwal.  It has no counter to challenge Kejriwal’s ‘free electricity, free water’ offer. BJP’s organisational setup in Delhi is not well-coordinated. It lacks new leaders, and most of the older ones are completely out of sync with the new voters.  Despite all these, the core BJP voter in Delhi is still with the party, and this is reflected in its rising vote percentage.

One must not forget that Kejriwal’s party failed to win a single Lok Sabha seat from Delhi in the last two general elections. The people of Delhi unreservedly voted for Narendra Modi. The same voters in Delhi supported Kejriwal in the assembly and MCD elections.

If there is one party which lost its core base consistently in Delhi, it is the Congress. It is the Aam Aadmi Party which has gained from Congress’ weaknesses during the last ten years.

BJP should worry about  its performance in the seven Lok Sabha constituencies that it had won in Delhi in 2014 and 2019. While MCD results from Gautam Gambhir’s,  Manoj Tiwari’s and Dr Harsh Vardhan’s LS constituencies show that BJP’s performance in their wards was satisfactory, the performance in the remaining four LS constituencies was poor, and the AAP defeated BJP in most of the wards.

In Gautam Gambhir’s East Delhi constituency, BJP won 21 out of 33 wards, while AAP won nine. In Manoj Tiwari’s North East Delhi constituency, BJP won 21 out of 41 wards, while AAP won 17. In Harsh Vardhan’s Chandni Chowk constituency, BJP won 16 out of 30 wards. The most pathetic performance of BJP was in Minister Meenakshi Lekhi’s New Delhi constituency, where AAP won 20 out of 25 wards, leaving five for BJP.

In Parvesh Verma’s South West Delhi constituency, AAP won 24 out of 38 wards, leaving 13 for BJP. In Ramesh Bidhuri’s South Delhi constituency, AAP won 25 out of 40 wards, leaving 14 for BJP. In Hansraj Hans’ North West Delhi constituency, AAP won 27 out of 43 wards, leaving 14 for BJP.

BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa claimed that there have been no deficiencies in the party’s policies, strategy and leadership, and the party lost the wards because of poor performance of some of its sitting councillors.

Congress leaders in Delhi claim that their vote share this time has increased from 4 pc in assembly polls to 11.7 pc in MCD poll this time. While analysing data, it was found that the Congress has got support from areas that are Muslim-dominated. In other words, Muslim voters in Delhi have started shifting from Kejriwal to Congress.

Kejriwal had suggested during the Gujarat elections that the images of Lord Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi should be printed on currency notes. He maintained a complete silence when the convicts in Bilkis Bano gang rape and murder case were released from Gujarat jails. He also maintained silence on Delhi riots. Muslim voters in Delhi this time have reacted by opting for Congress instead of AAP.

Kejriwal may have won the MCD polls, but his party’s vote share has decreased by 11 pc compared to assembly election vote share. BJP lost control over MCD, its number of seats was reduced, but its vote share increased by one per cent. It means, the core vote bank of BJP in Delhi has remained intact.

Congress vote share may have increased, but the message is clear: there is no chance for the 137-year-old party in the near future. 188 Congress candidates lost their deposits in the MCD polls this time. The decline of Congress in Delhi continues. Compared with 2017 MCD poll percentage, Congress’ share has decreased from 21.1 to 11.7 per cent, a roughly 10 per cent decline.

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