Finally, it was Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal — once described by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as “an unknown broom-wielding man living in Ghaziabad” — who proved to be the game changer in the Delhi Assembly elections.
Leading the rout of the 15-year-old Congress rule in the Capital, Mr. Kejriwal defeated the former Chief Minister in the New Delhi constituency. The 45-year-old IIT engineer and former Income Tax officer pulled off a major upset against Ms. Dikshit by defeating her with a thumping margin of 25,864 votes.
For the Congress, only two of its Cabinet ministers — Haroon Yusuf (Ballimaran) and Arvinder Singh (Gandhi Nagar) won. Several four-time Congress leaders tasted defeat for the first time in these elections, including former Speaker Chaudhary Prem Singh from Ambedkar Nagar, PWD Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan from Mangolpuri, Health Minister A.K. Walia from Laxmi Nagar, former Minister Harsharan Singh Balli from Hari Nagar, and Mukesh Sharma from Uttam Nagar.
On the other hand, leaders who won the Assembly elections for the fifth consecutive time included Haroon Yusuf, Mateen Ahmad from Seelampur (both Congress); Harsh Vardhan, Jagdish Mukhi and Sahab Singh Chauhan of the BJP from Krishna Nagar, Janakpuri and Ghonda, respectively, and Shoaib Iqbal of the Janata Dal (United) from Matia Mahal.
The debutant AAP made deep inroads into the Scheduled Castes reserved constituencies, which have been a traditional Congress stronghold, and bagged nine of these 12 seats, while the Congress managed to retain just one of them as against the nine seats it had won in the 2008 elections. However, the BJP retained its two reserved seats.
The AAP trounced the Congress in many of the Assembly segments of West, North-West, South Delhi, and East Delhi parliamentary constituencies. According to one of its leaders Prashant Bhushan, the AAP spent less than Rs.14 crore on the campaign.
It had gone into the elections with the promise of ending corruption in governance and providing regular and affordable electricity and potable water.
For the Congress, that had fought the elections promising Delhiites stability and development, the signs of failure had started trickling in since early morning. And with Ms. Dikshit submitting her resignation to Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung on Sunday, a little before afternoon, the Congress accepted defeat well before the final results were out.
In the final tally, the Congress did not even win a dozen seats in the elections to the 70-member Assembly, which saw a record 65.86 per cent turnout in Delhi.
The BJP, which is now the single largest party, fought these elections on the promise of providing Delhiites better security for women, curbing price rise, providing potable water, 24-hour electricity supply and corruption-free governance.
Meanwhile the Bahujan Samajwadi Party, which had garnered a 14 per cent vote share in the 2008 Assembly polls, failed to make its presence felt this time round. The BSP had fielded 69 candidates. None of them won.