In Delhi, AAP’s Huge Win Ends BJP’s 15-Year Control Over Civic Body


AAP WON: There is a strong possibility that the BJP, which ran the campaign with PM Narendra Modi’s face, will settle around 100 seats in the House of 250.

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AAP has won the prestige battle for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), unseating the BJP. As of now, it has 126 seats in the House of 250, and is leading on 10 more, making its number 136.

So far, the BJP has won 97 seats and looks set to cross 100 – not bad after 15 years of continuous rule. Seven seats have been won by the Congress, and three more are in the lead.

There was a huge celebration at the AAP office with dhol and kids dressed as Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Since morning, balloons and celebratory posters had been prepared at the office.

As the counting showed a much tighter contest than exit polls predicted, AAP leaders went into a huddle. AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal’s residence was rushed by Manish Sisodia and Raghav Chadha. Bhagwant Mann joined them.

The BJP has not formed the Delhi state government in 24 years, but its control over MCD has remained strong. Two years after the AAP won 67 of 70 seats in the 2015 assembly elections, the BJP retained the MCD.

Both AAP and BJP, which control parts of Delhi’s administration through state and central governments, saw this as a prestige contest. After the last term of the BJP ended early this year, the MCD — once divided into three areas, area-wise, around 10 years ago — was reunified and the wards redrawn. There were more than 1,300 candidates.

The BJP went all-out during the campaign to get PM Narendra Modi to hand over keys to some slum rehab flats. Union ministers and chief ministers were also deployed. Both main parties neglected local leaders.

Since early last year, the AAP has been preparing. Keeping its pitch directly focused on garbage, it said, “We have improved things under the state, so let’s take care of sanitation as well.” The slogan “Kejriwal’s government, Kejriwal’s corporator” paralleled the BJP’s similar pitch of “Modi’s double engine” – both built on the faces of their top leaders.

Housing promises were made by the BJP, and several AAP ministers faced corruption charges. AAP was targeted by the Congress with these digs. “Bootleg charges” and “misuse of central agencies” won’t defeat Mr Kejriwal’s “shaandaar” (glorious) work as chief minister.

Despite losing some ground, the Congress had hoped to gain some pockets of influence. Delhi is still rebuilding after a decline began in 2014 and Sheila Dikshit’s death in 2019. Because of the party’s focus on macro-politics of ideology – evident in Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ that’s in Rajasthan now – civic body elections weren’t a top priority.

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