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HindustanTimes Wed,27 Aug 2014

BJP sweeps Delhi, with AAP number two

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 16, 2014
First Published: 07:01 IST(16/5/2014) | Last Updated: 22:09 IST(16/5/2014)

The BJP made a clean sweep of Delhi on Friday, winning all seven Lok Sabha seats in the capital and capturing 46.4% of the vote. Adding to Congress woes, the upstart Aam Aadmi Party emerged as the number two party.

The Congress, which won all seven seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, was nowhere in the competition. Even its best known candidates, including union ministers Kapil Sibal, Krishna Tirath and former sports minster Ajay Maken, were left in third place.

Contesting its first Lok Sabha elections, the Aam Aadmi Party changed the power equation in Delhi by emerging as runners up in all seats. The party managed to corner almost 33% of the votes while the Congress’s share fell to 15.1% - an enormous drop from its 57.04% vote share in 2009.

The BJP’s vote share increased by just over six percentage points from 2009.

Putting aside their assembly election aspirations, the BJP took the risk of fielding three of its sitting MLAs. This tactic has paid off with all three sitting MLAs – Harsh Vardhan, Pravesh Verma and Ramesh Bidhuri – proving victorious.

In the three assembly segments dominated by the minority community, the BJP candidate won by a huge margin.

BJP’s victory and the AAP’s strong showing has put the spotlight back on the Delhi assembly which was suspended following the AAP government’s resignation in February.

The Lok Sabha victories raises the possibility of the BJP staking claim to form the next Delhi government or a new election being called. "Things will become clear after the cabinet formation. One section is of the view that electorate has reposed its faith in the party and we should go for re-election and get clear majority," said a BJP leader.

Senior AAP leaders say their party’s decision to let their Delhi government fall after 49 days in power worked against them. Many had hoped the new party would win one or two seats.

The Congress, having won only eight out of the 70 assembly seats last year and now having lost all seven Lok Sabha seats, will wonder about their political future in the capital.

"In the 1980s, the Congress helped JJ clusters [slums] come up in every part of the city and help them get employment and ration cards. In return, the slum dwellers attended Congress rallies and voted for them. The party has lost that base and become just a super structure. It will have to make serious efforts to rebuild," said Manoj Sinha, political scientist at Delhi University.


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