Though the Bharatiya Janata Party dethroned the Congress on Sunday and emerged as the single largest party in the Delhi Assembly election, winning 31 of the 70 seats, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) stole the show in its debut by scooping up 28 seats.
Witnessing a triangular electoral contest for the first time, the electorate in Delhi sprung a surprise by throwing a situation where no party is in a clear position to form the government on its own. Several hours after the picture became clear, none of the three parties talked about government formation. The AAP asserted that it would play a role of constructive opposition, while former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari said the party would form the government only if it got support in the natural process otherwise “we would like to sit in the Opposition.”
AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal proved to be a giant killer by defeating three-time Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in the New Delhi constituency by a margin of more than 25,000 votes. The former Delhi BJP president, Vijender Gupta, came a poor third.
The highlight of the AAP’s sterling performance is that several of its political nonentities proved giant killers by defeating Congress stalwarts such as four-time MLA Chaudhary Prem Singh, PWD Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan, Education Minister Kiran Walia, Transport Minister Ramakant Goswami and Health Minister A.K. Walia.
The AAP won not only in the constituencies dominated by the lower middle and working classes in East and West Delhi, but it also emerged victorious in posh South Delhi Assembly segments.
“We accept our defeat and will analyse what went wrong. We thank people of Delhi for supporting us for 15 years,” Ms. Dikshit said after submitting her resignation. Mr. Kejriwal, meanwhile, described the outcome as a “historic mandate,” saying people had voted for “honest” brand of politics.
Wining 52 seats, the Congress wrested power in Delhi from the BJP in 1998. BJP’s Madan Lal Khurana became the first Chief Minister in 1993 after 70-seat Assembly was created. He was replaced by Saheb Singh Verma and just before the 1998 election, the party brought in Sushma Swaraj as the third Chief Minister in the midst of soaring onion prices and worsening law and order situation.
Sheila Dikshit notched the hat-trick in 2003 and 2008 47 seats in 2003 and 43 in 2008.
This time around, the Congress has won only eight seats, clearly losing support from across the classes. Beginning with allegations of corruption in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the Congress government also took the beating on account of rising prices, high power and water rates. Though it was credited with development of infrastructure, bringing in Delhi Metro, setting up educational institutions, the party failed to decode a strong undercurrent of AAP and aspirations of the young voters — a majority being first-timers — who turned out in large numbers to cast their votes.