Switching party works for some, others miss mark
Among the new recruits was Shoaib Iqbal, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate who had joined the party from the Congress last month. He won the Matia Mahal seat with a vote percentage of 75.16%, the highest in this assembly election.Updated: Feb 12, 2020 05:00 IST
Changing political parties ahead of the assembly elections in Delhi ended in some of the biggest victories for candidates on Monday. Among the new recruits was Shoaib Iqbal, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate who had joined the party from the Congress last month. He won the Matia Mahal seat with a vote percentage of 75.16%, the highest in this assembly election.
This win by 50,241 votes will send him to the Delhi legislative assembly for the sixth time.
“It is not just my work in the area, the people here have also wholeheartedly embraced the politics of the AAP. It is a good partnership,” Iqbal said after his victory was announced.
Before the Congress, Iqbal had also fought elections on the slate of the Janata Dal, Janata Dal (Secular), Lok Janshakti Party and Janata Dal (United).
The battle of new entrants also included a close fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Ramvir Singh Bidhuri and AAP’s Ram Singh Netaji in Badarpur.
Bidhuri, who moved to the BJP from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) ahead of the 2013 assembly elections, won the seat with a margin of 3719 votes. Curiously, Netaji had also switched between the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress, before joining the AAP in January.
Months before Delhi went to the polls on February 8, several senior leaders from the AAP, BJP and Congress changed sides. In some cases, candidates benefitted from changing their affiliations, and in other cases, welcoming new entrants helped the parties.
The AAP, which was speeding ahead in the battle for Delhi, fielded four candidates who joined it from the Congress. There was a direct swap of AAP and Congress candidates from 2015 in Chandni Chowk this time.
AAP’s Parlad Singh Sawhney, who was the Congress MLA from Chandni Chowk before Alka Lamba won in 2015 on the AAP slate, was elected with a margin of 29,584 votes (65.92% vote share).
“I respect the people’s mandate. I am thankful that residents of Chandni Chowk gave me an opportunity to work for them the last five years. My office doors are always open for them, and I will continue to work for the development of my area,” Lamba said.
In Dwarka, the sitting legislator, Adarsh Shastri, fought the election from the Congress this time, while senior Congress leader and former MP from west Delhi, Mahabal Mishra’s son Vinay Mishra, was fielded as the AAP candidate.
Vinay Mishra had fought the assembly election on a Congress ticket in 2013 from the Palam constituency, but lost his security deposit to AAP’s Bhavna Gaur. His switch to the AAP resulted in the dismissal of Mahabal Mishra from Congress, but his supporters helped Vinay Mishra better his performance. He was ahead of the BJP contestant, Parduymn Rajput, with a margin of 14,387.
Both Shastri (total votes 6,757) and Lamba (total votes 3,881) finished a distant third in their respective constituencies.
Senior leader Amarish Gautam, who has twice been an MLA from Patparganj and once from Kondli, also did not gain by moving to the Congress from BJP. He ended third in the Kondli seat, with a vote share of 4.55%.
After a bitter breakup from the AAP last year, former Delhi cabinet minister Kapil Mishra also lost to AAP’s sitting MLA Akhilesh Pati Tripathi from Model Town by a margin of 11,133. He was at the forefront of the BJP’s campaign, criticising AAP’s governance and vocally playing up BJP’s narrative of “nationalism”.
Mishra on Tuesday said that although he lost the election, the result would not change his stand on Shaheen Bagh protesters, who have been demonstrating against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
“I proudly stand by whatever I said against the people who are opposing the CAA and the protesters sitting at Shaheen Bagh. The election results were unfavourable today, but they will be in our favour tomorrow. We will work harder,” Mishra said.
BJP candidate Anil Bajpai, the sitting MLA from east Delhi’s Gandhi Nagar who was with the AAP, was among the few able to repeat his victory despite switching his party. He retained his seat from Gandhi Nagar, winning by a margin of a little over 6,000 votes.
“Even though AAP and Congress discredited me in their campaigns, people know what I have done and that I will continue this work,” Bajpai said.