Even though it did not win the Rajouri Garden bypoll, the Congress managed to increase its vote share from a paltry 12% in 2015 to 33% on a seat which once was considered its bastion.
It was great news for the party, which had surrendered its entire vote share to the Aam Aadmi Party since 2013. Congress candidate Meenakshi Chandela was the runner-up but the party hoped it could be beginning of its win in the bid to recover lost political ground in the national Capital.
Buoyed by the Thursday’s result, the party leaders are now hoping that it will help their prospects in the April 23 municipal elections and boost the morale of the dejected party cadre.
Terming the election result as a sign of ‘resurgence’ of the Congress in Delhi, state unit chief Ajay Maken said, “It indicates that we are regaining our traditional vote bank.”
“Within two years, the Congress has been able to achieve a 300% growth in its vote share only due to the tireless efforts of its workers,” he said.
Maken said with the Rajouri Garden bypoll result has made it clear that the MCD elections will be a direct contest between the Congress and the BJP.
“After analysing the booth-wise result, we can say that pockets of resettlement, unauthorised colonies, safai-karamcharis, street vendors and minorities have supported us and our old/ traditional voters are back with the party,” he said.
However, the newly-elected MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa rubbished talks of a resurgent Congress. He said the party did poorly in several booths of the constituency, which had been represented by Maken thrice. “The Congress candidate bagged just 81 votes in a booth which was near Maken’s residence in the constituency and AAP got 82 votes,” he said.
A senior party functionary and close associate of Delhi Congress president, Chattar Singh said the polling booths which Sirsa mentioned, were never won by Congress even when Maken was MLA from the area. “Post delimitation, the character of the assembly constituency has completely changed. Of the 169 polling booths, only 29 are from the previous seat. The fact that the AAP candidate has forfeited his security deposit is a big relief for us,” he said.