Manish Sisodia pulls off thriller, wins by a thin margin
For much of the day, Sisodia trailed his opponent in what was considered a safe seat for the AAP. The deputy CM trailed till the ninth round of counting, out of a total of 15.Updated: Feb 12, 2020 04:17 IST
It was a nail-biting contest for senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who won from the Patparganj seat in east Delhi, defeating Ravinder Negi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by a margin of 3,207 votes.
For much of the day, Sisodia trailed his opponent in what was considered a safe seat for the AAP. The deputy CM trailed till the ninth round of counting, out of a total of 15.
While chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and many other leaders from the party steered clear of commenting on the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests at Shaheen Bagh, Sisodia tweeted last month that he stood with the protestors.
Shaheen Bagh is where a group, largely comprising Muslim women, have been protesting by staging a sit-in on a road for 58 days, against a law that they say is discriminatory to Muslims because it fast-tracks Indian citizenship for non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The BJP sought to present the protesters at Shaheen Bagh as anti-nationals and also claimed that the protest was being backed by the AAP and the Congress. Sisodia’s comment was used by the BJP to target the deputy CM and the party.
Negi was BJP’s Vinod Nagar ‘Mandal Adhyaksh’ (ward president) before being fielded by the party as its candidate against Sisodia. He was picked because of his background; Negi is from the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, and at least 20% voters in Patparganj are migrants from the state according to demographic estimates by various political parties. Even the Congress’s Laxman Rawat is a migrant from Uttarakhand. In their election campaign too, both Rawat and Negi highlighted their Garhwali origins.
As the competition in the constituency intensified in the days running up to the election, Sisodia spent almost all of his time at Patparganj.
It was still a tough fight.
On Tuesday, AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal who arrived at the party’s headquarters by 10am, delayed his victory speech till it was clear that his deputy was winning.
Sisodia received 70,163 votes to Negi’s 66,956.
In the 2015 assembly elections, Sisodia won the Patparganj seat with a vote share of 53.5%, whereas this time his vote share decreased to 49.33%.
A visibly anxious Sisodia, considered the architect of the AAP government’s education reforms, was at the counting centre through the day, and came out to talk to reporters only after he was certain of his win. “I am happy to become the MLA from Patparganj assembly constituency again. The BJP tried to do politics of hate but people from my constituency rejected it. A lot of education and water-related work was done in Patparganj, which people appreciated,” Sisodia said. He also took out a victory march in the area.
His opponent said the AAP’s generous welfare schemes did the trick for Sisodia.
“The AAP’s freebies (free 20,000 litre water, bus rides for women and free electricity) swayed the public to their side. But, people in Patparganj love me due to my extensive social work since 2008 and hence voted for me so much,” added Negi.