Modi wave getting stronger
BJP effectively beat 10-year-old anti-incumbency riding on the Narendra Modi wave by winning 181 wards out of the 270 in the three municipal corporations. Though chief minister Arvind Kejriwal promised that he will closely monitor the MCDs, voters were driven by the Modi factor to believe that the PM will be able to make a difference.
Instead of criticising rivals — the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Congress — the state leadership used Modi to seek votes. His images along with that of party president Amit Shah and local unit chief Manoj Tiwari were placed on all posters and banners across the city.
To overcome anti-incumbency, the party made a smart move by not giving tickets to any of the sitting councillors and instead fielded new faces. In the last municipal elections, BJP won 138 seats. Later, a few independents and councillors of other parties joined the BJP, which took its tally to 153. The MCD elections showed that Modi and Shah are still ahead of the curve in terms of election management, and that Modi’s popularity is enough to woo voters despite a decade of anti-incumbency.
Gujarat and beyond a distant dream for AAP
The AAP ministers failed to lead the party’s civic poll campaign in the wards in their own constituencies, putting spanner in its dream to become a national party. After losing in Punjab and Goa, AAP had hoped to shore up Delhi before taking on Modi in home state of Gujarat. The party had also planned to go to other Congress vs BJP states.
But, even at home, the rug is being pulled from under AAP’s feet. This is clear from how some of its top leaders are losing ground.
In Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia’s constituency Patparganj, AAP won only one out of four wards and the rest three went to BJP. The three wards in Power minister Satyendar Jain’s constituency Shakur Basti went to BJP.
Similarly, in water minister Kapil Mishra’s constituency Karawal Nagar, two of the five wards were won by AAP. Labour minister Gopal Rai managed to win two out of four wards.
In south Delhi, former law minister and Malviya Nagar MLA Somnath Bharti also failed to make a mark as all three wards in his area went to the BJP. Vidhan Sabha speaker Ram Niwas Goel’s constituency completely rejected the AAP in all four wards falling under his leadership.
After the party’s Delhi unit convener Dilip Pandey sent his resignation to party chief Arvind Kejriwal and MLA Alka Lamba offered to resign over poor performance in MCD polls, another leader, Sanjay Singh, resigned as party in-charge in Punjab.
With its clout diminishing, the party will now have to focus on Delhi rather than looking expanding in other states.
Fault lines in the EVM debate
The AAP has been running a campaign against ‘faulty EVMs’ with deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Wednesday calling EVM “manipulation” a “bitter truth” of the country’s democracy.
Sisodia said that people can crack jokes at the party, but they cannot prevent it from speaking the truth.
However, the party seemed divided on the issue with water minister Kapil Mishra saying the blame can’t be pinned only on EVMs and the party needs to introspect and find the reasons behind its rout in the civic polls. Strangely though, Kejriwal in his official reaction to the results refrained from commenting on EVMs.
With the Congress and other parties such as BSP who had blamed EVMs in the past keeping quiet, AAP is getting isolated on this issue. Kejriwal had said on Monday that he would launch a “movement” against EVMs if the exit polls favouring BJP were proven right. He will now have to plot his next move carefully.
TINA factor: Rise of the NOTA votes
There were 2,516 candidates in the fray during the Delhi municipal corporation elections 2017 but for more than 49,000 voters, none of them were good enough to vote for. Many people who did not want to vote for BJP chose to either not vote at all, or press the None Of The Above button.
This shows the inability of the opposition to offer a strong alternative, even though the combined voting percentage of the Others was far beyond BJP’s 36 per cent vote share.
As per the Delhi State Election Commission 49,235 electorates voted for None of the Above (NOTA). The figure comprised of the 0.69% of the total ballots cast in Delhi. This is the first municipal election when the NOTA option has been introduced in the voting machines.
Out of the total, 10,283 voters used NOTA in East; 19, 637 voters in North and 19, 169 voters in South MCD.
Congress decline, blame game continues
As soon as the results were announced, Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken announced his resignation and later Congress’ in-charge of Delhi affairs PC Chacko also resigned.
Maken said he will not take up any post in the party for a year and will perform his duty as an ordinary worker, while Chacko called for introspection to ascertain the reasons for its defeat in Delhi and redefine its future strategy.
Maken’s resignation came even as former chief minister Sheila Dikshit said the Congress should have campaigned aggressively to challenge the BJP.
The Congress, which ruled Delhi for over 15 years under Dikshit, is continuing to lose its support base, though the party did better in the MCD elections than it had in the 2015 assembly. However, like in several other states, there seems no clear action plan and leadership strategy on how the Congress can revive in Delhi.