With about a year left for the municipal elections, the bypoll results on Tuesday threw up a fractured mandate that spelled ‘recovery’ for the Congress and an impressive debut for the AAP in the civic bodies.
The Congress tasted political success after drawing a nought in two successive elections in the city---2014 Lok Sabha and 2015 assembly polls---instilling a new lease of life in the party workers.
The AAP emerged as the largest party with five seats of the 13. Congress picked up four seats while the BJP, which had won seven seats in 2012 polls, could only manage three this time. A Congress rebel who won as an Independent rejoined the party.
The AAP might have won nearly one-third of the seats in the bypolls but party leaders are worried as it has lost vote share. The party’s internal surveys had promised a strong win – at least 12 seats, in line with AAP’s earlier poll performance.
The party lost its vote largely to the Congress as the BJP was able to increase its vote share by about two per cent.
While the BJP increased its vote share to 34.1% from 32% in 2015 assembly elections, the Congress’ vote share increased from 9% in 2015 Delhi assembly polls to about 25% in the MCD bypolls. From a vote share of 52%, AAP could garner only 29% votes.
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Political analysts saw the results as a dip in AAP’s popularity but cautioned against extrapolating the conclusions from the bypolls.
“No doubt the results are a disappointment for AAP but considering these are municipal bypolls, one should not think that if state elections are held in Delhi today, they will see a similar response,” said Sanjay Kumar, director, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.
“The result may not be as good as the AAP had hoped for but it doesn’t mean that they are losing ground in a big way. It doesn’t mean it will have an impact on their national or state bearing. Municipal elections are fought on very different issues and don’t necessarily affect the party at other levels,” he said.
Though Kumar refused to describe the results as resurgence of the Congress, the party’s leaders said they were looking at the results as a return of its core support base.
“The vote share speaks a lot about the results. You can’t win seats like Jhilmil, Khichripur and Quamruddin Nagar without getting votes from JJ clusters and unauthorised colonies,” a senior party leader said.
While the ruling BJP witnessed an increase in its vote share, and was the runner-up in eight of 13 seats, it could win only three seats. Party insiders said the anti-incumbency was one of the major reasons for the result besides ‘infighting’ in the state unit.
“The state unit is a divided house. Senior leaders have been accusing each other of corruption. The party needs a course correction. Several leaders were not keen on contesting elections. Party wanted to field some legislators who were councillors before getting elected to the assembly. But only two of them agreed to contest,” a senior party leader said.