The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Thursday claimed it is set to win about 40 seats and could even cross the 50-mark in the Delhi election, as the BJP insisted the results should not be seen as a referendum on the Narendra Modi government.
"I will not be surprised if AAP wins 50 seats," AAP leader Yogendra Yadav told TV news channel CNN-IBN in an interview. "At the moment (we are) clearly winning about 40 seats. If this trend continues, I won't be surprised if we touch or even cross 50."
He said the AAP would have found the election for the 70-member assembly tough had it been held in July 2014--just after the Lok Sabha polls in which the AAP was routed across the country except in Punjab where it won four seats.
The AAP and the BJP have emerged the principal contestants in the Delhi election, relegating the Congress, which governed Delhi for 15 years until 2013, to the third spot.
According to Yadav, BJP's decision to induct Kiran Bedi, India's first woman IPS officer, into its ranks and make her the chief ministerial candidate to take on AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal had backfired.
"Kiran Bedi has actually further deepened the downslide for the BJP," he said, adding it was too late in the day to reverse this trend.
BJP chief Amit Shah rejected AAP's claim of leading in the election and was confident about his party. Dismissing pre-election surveys, he said the BJP will form a government in Delhi with a "very big majority" and Kiran Bedi will become chief minister.
His comments are in line with the statement of union minister M Venkaiah Naidu. "It is true that it is an election for chief ministership. The election in a state cannot be a referendum (about Centre's functioning).
"While this is indeed true that the good work of the government of India has its impact on elections, a state election cannot become a referendum (on Centre's functioning) because of that one thing," said Shah.
"Venkaiahji has not said that. He has said that Delhi election is not to elect a Chief Minister. You also know the constitution. Elections in Delhi are never to elect Prime Minister," Shah told CNN-IBN.