MCD bypolls: BJP’s loss outcome of poor performance in civic bodies
Drawing a blank in the bypoll to five municipal wards and losing one of its strongholds has come as a setback to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP0 ahead of the 2022 civic polls in Delhi with political analysts pointing out that the results reflect the party’s poor governance of the three municipal bodies.
To be sure of the five wards that went to polls, AAP had won four in the 2017 civic polls and the BJP won the fifth seat. The BJP rules all three municipal corporations with a clear majority and the current results will not have a bearing on the party position in the three MCDs.
Party leaders, however, admitted on Wednesday that the defeat of BJP candidate in Shalimar Bagh ward, which is considered its stronghold, is likely an outcome of its performance in the three MCDs as well as anti-incumbency.
Experts also said that the AAP’s sustained campaign on local issues and the Delhi government’s record also helped it sweep the bypolls. Tanvir Aeijaz, associate professor in the department of political science at Ramjas College, said, “AAP’s victory in Shalimar Bagh is an indication that people like their model of governance. People have seen how the party managed the Covid crisis.”
Residents of Shalimar Bagh said for the past four years the area witnessed little development. They said they voted for essential services such as sanitation, good roads, etc.
Sanjay Saini, a resident of Shalimar village, said, “From sanitation to road repair, the civic bodies have not been able to provide any essential services. They don’t have the funds for it. Our ward is one of the most neglected wards as no work has happened here in the past five years, especially after the death of the sitting councillor.”
Delhi BJP general secretary Harsh Malhotra, who was in-charge of Shalimar Bagh, said, “We accept the verdict. There are a lot of factors that were responsible for today’s result and we will analyse it.”
AAP’s in-charge of municipal affairs Durgesh Pathak said the BJP’s poor showing shows that people are not happy by its performance in the MCDs. He also said that AAP did extremely well. “Four out of five seats is a big win, especially a seat like Shalimar Bagh which was a stronghold of the BJP. The BJP losing that seat and scoring a zero in the bypolls shows how disgruntled people are with the BJP.”
In its campaign, the BJP focused on the work done by the Centre and alleged failure of the AAP government to deliver on its pre-poll promises. The BJP also raised the issue of alleged corruption in the Delhi Jal Board. It held protests and rallies in different parts of the city against the AAP. It also carried out fund collection drive for the Ram temple, citing it as one of the key achievements of the BJP.
Locals, however, said national issues cannot work in local elections. “What the Modi government has done is irrelevant in this election, as it is a local election and people voted on local issues,” said Giri Bharadwaj, a resident of CC block in Shalimar Bagh.
In other wards too, the issue of sanitation, repair of internal roads, encroachment, lack of development were the key issues on which people voted. In Kalyanpuri and Trilokpuri East, BJP lost the election to AAP by 7,043 and 4,986 votes respectively.
Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta said that the party will analyse the result and take corrective measures. He also accused the AAP government of paralysing the corporations by not releasing funds on time. Gupta said, “We will have to look into all the aspects and analyse the reason for our defeat. The municipal corporations have not been able to work properly due to the lack of funds. The Delhi government is to be blamed for it.”
Playing down the bypoll results, some BJP leaders said that not much should be read into it. They said that of the five wards, BJP won only Shalimar Bagh in 2017.
Other party leaders demanded a course correction, citing margins of loss. “The margin of victory in municipal bypolls is usually not very high. The fact that we lost Kalyanpuri by 7,043 votes and Trilokpuri East by 4,986 votes. Losing our stronghold (Shalimar Bagh) by 2,705 votes indicates that there is something wrong. The party needs to change its strategy,” said a senior BJP leader, who did not want to be named.