The Congress’s honeymoon with Delhi’s voters seems to be all but over.
Barely four months after resounding victory in all the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, the Congress suffered crushing defeat in the by-elections to two assembly seats, results for which were declared on Thursday.
While Bharatiya Janata Party’s Pardyumn Rajput defeated Congress’ Tilotma Chaudhary in Dwarka with a handsome margin of 11,362 votes, Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD’s) Asif Mohammad Khan beat Bahujan Samaj Party’s Brahm Singh Bidhuri in Okhla by a comfortable margin of 5,007 votes relegating Congress candidate Farhad Suri to the third position.
This is first time an RJD candidate won any election in Delhi.
Amid various theories buzzing around to explain the results, pundits and politicians agreed on one thing: micro-level issues like power cuts, erratic water supply, the rising cost of power, and general inflation did the Congress in.
“Cost of electricity is rising thanks to the recent withdrawal of 10 per cent subsidy on power tariffs. There have been power cuts for eight-ten hours till a few weeks ago. And prices of everyday commodities are sky high,” said V.K. Malhotra, Delhi Leader of Opposition from the BJP. “Why should people vote for this government after all this?” he said.
Interestingly, the Congress had won both the assembly seats in the 2008 elections. The ruling party bettered its performance in both the assembly segments in the parliamentary elections in May this year with Sandeep Dikshit winning more than 50,000 votes from Okhla.
The defeat appears to be part of a larger political trend.
The elections to the Delhi University Students Union —which the Congress’s student wing had held for the past two terms — went the BJP’s way.
On top of that, in August, Congress could win only one out of the five wards to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi in the by-polls.
Instead of seeing this as the resurgence of the saffron forces in Delhi, Congress sources said it was more of a “self-goal” by their party.
“In Okhla, RJD’s Asif Mohammad Khan was a local candidate who has always done local politics while Congress’s Suri was an outsider,” said a senior party member on the condition of anonymity.
And for Dwarka, consisting of largely unauthorised colonies and urban villages — considered Mahabal Mishra’s turf since he won three assembly elections from there before becoming an MP from West Delhi — the infighting within the ranks made matters difficult for the fielded candidate, the party source added.
The general theory is that supporters of Mishra, whose brother was denied a ticket for the by-polls, voted against the Congress.