Almost all exit polls had predicted it and on Sunday, the incumbent Congress government’s worst nightmares came true: chief minister Sheila Dikshit suffered an embarrassing defeat in the keenly-watched New Delhi constituency.
Dikshit fell short by a crushing 22,000 votes as newcomer Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal raked in over 38,000 votes.
It was a little over four months ago that Kejriwal had announced that he would take on Dikshit from the New Delhi constituency and added that if she changed her constituency, he too would follow suit.
With two chief ministerial candidates making the constituency a potent battleground, the BJP too threw in the gauntlet by fielding relative heavy weight Vijender Gupta, former Delhi BJP chief.
The fight, however, was far from triangular as trends showed that Dikshit and Kejriwal cornered the bulk of the votes. The margin between Dikshit and Kejriwal was so huge that even if the BJP had not fielded a strong candidate like Gupta – who made a substantial dent with 11,000 votes – the outgoing CM still would still have not been able to catch up with Kejriwal.
Dikshit read the trend early on in the day when she sent her resignation to the Lieutenant Governor shortly before noon on Sunday.
A visibly disappointed Gupta was seen sitting alone at the counting centre while AAP supporters were seen sloganeering and generally cheering their leader.
Kejriwal had campaigned aggressively amongst the slum clusters – read Valmiki community, Congress’ traditional stronghold – in the constituency. It was the public from here that had elected the Dikshit for three consecutive terms, the last in 2008 when she won by a margin of over 14,000 votes.
The New Delhi constituency comprises mostly government employees across cadres, few residential colonies and over a dozen slum clusters.
A resident of Kaushambi in neighbouring Ghaziabad district (Uttar Pradesh), the AAP leader had first shifted base to east Delhi’s Sundar Nagari and later became a voter of the New Delhi constituency.