MCD results 2017: BJP rides on Modi wave; AAP routed, Kejriwal accepts defeat
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday rode on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity to retain Delhi’s three civic bodies for the third time in a row, dealing a body blow to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), whose leaders blamed Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for its poor show in the municipal elections.
According to the Delhi election office, the BJP had won 181 wards, AAP 48 and Congress 30 wards.
The BSP won two wards in the east municipal corporation and one in the north.
The election office also said that there was nothing wrong with the EVMs, in a statement issued in the evening.
The INLD bagged one seat in south, SP one in south. Six wards went to Independent candidates in the north and south corporations. (For full results, click here).
In the north body, the BJP won 64 wards, AAP 21 and Congress 15. In the south MCD, the BJP won 70, AAP 16 and 12 went to the Congress.
In the east Delhi municipal body, 47 went to BJP, 11 to AAP and three to the Congress.
Voting for 270 of the total 272 wards of the three municipal corporations saw around 54% turnout on Sunday. Election was countermanded in two wards following the death of candidates.
The results are a huge setback to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is struggling to retain the appeal of the five-year-old party that came to power in Delhi by a sweeping majority in the 2015 Assembly elections.
Putting up a brave face and accepting defeat, Kejriwal congratulated the BJP for its victory. He made no mention of EVMs even though his party members had alleged tampering of voting machines early in the day.
Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare questioned Kejriwal’s leadership, saying the party haf lost credibility among people in a short span of time. Hazare, once a colleague of Kejriwal during the Lokpal movement, said there was difference between “words and action” of AAP which led to their defeat in the elections.
The BJP was jubilant. As the results became clear, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweeted: “Grateful to the people of Delhi for the faith in BJP. I laud the hardwork of (Delhi BJP) team... which made the resounding MCD win possible.”
Party chief Amit Shah said: “MCD election results have pushed Modi’s victory chariot forward... The results show negative politics won’t work... I congratulate Manoj Tiwari and all our party workers,” he said.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari blamed the AAP government for not letting the municipal corporations function properly and promised to make Delhi free of garbage in the next three months.
Tiwari credited the victory to the AAP’s ‘failures’ and Modi’s policies. “It has been proved that only ‘Modi can do’ (reference to BJP’s campaign, tumse na ho payega). The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is incapable (of developing Delhi). It is clear that the people of Delhi is fed up with the negativity being spread by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. They have reposed trust in the policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Tiwari said.
Tiwari said the party decided to suspend all celebrations in wake of the Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma that killed 25 CRPF personnel on Monday.
“Winning and losing is a part of democracy, one must accept mandate of the people with maturity,” says BJP leader and Union minister Nitin Gadkari.
Accepting defeat, Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken decided to resign from his post. “We have made a reasonable comeback... I hoped for a better performance. We because I could not meet the expectations, I have decided to resign... For one year, I will not take up any post in the party; will work as a party worker,” Maken said.
As AAP’s dismal run became clear, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and Delhi labour minister Gopal Rai met Kejriwal at his residence in Civil Lines early in the day to decide the party’s line on the impending loss.
The party had squarely blamed the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for the poor show. Rai briefly stepped outside to blame faulty EVMs for the rout they so hoped against. “
“EVM tampering is the bitter truth of the country’s democracy. One can crack jokes on us initially, but fearing being made fun of, we cannot refrain from speaking the truth,” Sisodia told reporters.
The Delhi government’s media adviser Nagendra Sharma took to micro-blogging site Twitter to voice his concerns. “Sweeping Delhi MCD polls sweeping Delhi’s streets for a decade. When machines are with you human will is of no relevance.”
Senior party leader Ashutosh also blamed the machines for AAP’s performance. “The debacle clearly shows EVM fraud,” he said. “EVMs were manipulated. Democracy is in danger,” Ashutosh said.
At the party office in Delhi’s Rouse Avenue, a pall of gloom descended at AAP office as party looks for answers over the poor show.
Delhi state election commissioner S.K. Srivastava denied any issues with EVMs. “It worked well. And we didn’t receive any further complaints. Everything went well.” he said.
Although local in nature, the elections carry wider national ramifications as an emphatic victory for the BJP will only add to its image to invincibility and leave a divided opposition further demoralised in the run up to the national elections in 2019.
But the biggest setback will be for Kejriwal. The civic elections are a matter of prestige for him as the verdict could be seen as a referendum on his party’s two-year-old government. It could also call into question Kejriwal’s ability to win elections after his party suffered crushing defeats in assembly polls in Goa and Punjab last month.
The BJP has controlled the city’s civic bodies for a decade. The AAP and the BJP have often clashed over civic issues, affecting governance at these municipalities.