MCD election 2017: What next for Kejriwal’s AAP, exit polls predict BJP win
MCD polls: After voting ended for Delhi’s three civic bodies, two pollsters predicted a huge win for the BJP. AAP and Congress are fighting neck-and-neck for a very distant second spot.MCD Elections 2017 Updated: Apr 26, 2017 06:56 IST
The results of the MCD elections will be known only on Wednesday. But if the exit polls hold true, the writing is on the wall for Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, which had routed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP in the Delhi assembly elections two years ago.
Kejriwal, who was positioning himself as a challenger to Modi by taking him on directly in public discourse, will have to ask himself some uncomfortable questions about how a city he has mesmerised in 2015 is so decisively swinging away from him and his anti-politics plank.
On Sunday, immediately after voting ended for Delhi’s three civic bodies, two pollsters predicted a huge win for the BJP, which was facing a decade-long anti-incumbency in the municipal corporations. The MCD acronym had been expanded by the AAP leadership to mean ‘Most Corrupt Department’ in recent weeks as they pushed to take control of Delhi’s local governance. But the exit polls suggest that AAP and Congress are fighting neck-and-neck for a very distant second spot.
Apart from a reversal of fortunes for Kejriwal, whose party holds 66 out of 70 seats in the Delhi assembly, the exit polls also suggest that the Modi juggernaut is continuing from where it had left off in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections last month. They suggest that the blips in 2015 in Delhi and Bihar, where they were defeated by AAP and the Nitish Kumar-led JDU-RJD Mahagathbandhan respectively, are behind the BJP.
AAP’s rout in MCD polls, as predicted by the exit polls, will also be a personal setback to Kejriwal as the party had put Brand Kejriwal vs Brand Modi, describing the Prime Minister as the only lifeline for the BJP’s alleged misrule in the MCD.
“Our campaign was all about Kejriwal. Even in the posters that counted the achievements of the Delhi government, there was hardly any mention of the party. It was clear the party was putting a premium on his face. Even in 2015, it was the slogan ‘paanch saal Kejriwal’ that gave the result that we saw,” a senior AAP leader told HT on Monday. “But let’s wait for the results.”
Indications on the ground are that there is anger against the AAP leadership, including Kejriwal, over their two-year rule in Delhi. In fact, the public’s disaffection over poor sanitation, for which the BJP-led MCD is directly responsible, is also being passed on to the AAP government. There are also suggestions that the AAP government’s allegations that the Delhi L-G, who reports to the Central government, is not allowing them to work, has stopped finding favour with people.
After falling below expectations in the assembly elections in Punjab last month, a heavy defeat in the Delhi civic polls will suggest that AAP is running out of options.
The exit polls are discouraging for the party on another key front - the predicted fall in the vote share of AAP. “In its exit poll, one of the pollsters showed AAP’s vote share in MCD polls as 18.6%. That would be a loss of about 35% as compared to the assembly elections when we won 54% votes. Even when we couldn’t win a single seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, we had got over 32% votes. Obviously, if the pollsters are correct, we are losing ground,” said an AAP legislator.
On the other hand, the BJP, riding high on Modi’s popularity, is witnessing a surge in its vote share in the Capital. After winning the Rajouri Garden assembly bypolls by a huge margin, the party is gaining in every corner of the Capital.
“Performance-wise, the party cannot rate itself very highly. Even a survey by the Union urban development department has rated the capital badly on sanitation -- the main job of the civic bodies,” conceded a senior BJP leader. “The corporations failed to check vector-borne diseases such as dengue and chikungunya, which have been claiming lives year after year. The only explanation for the victory will be Brand Modi. The party took a hard decision to dump its sitting councillors and field fresh faces. That would have been possible if not for the Modi-Amit Shah combination at the BJP’s helm.”
Like AAP, the picture for the Congress party is not rosy, either. The party cadre could have some reason to cheer as it may increase its vote share across the three corporations, as compared to the less than 10% votes it recieved in 2015 assembly elections, when it failed to even open its account. But it’s small succor for a party that was hoping to use the MCD elections as a springboard for its revival.