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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

BJP and Congress dent AAP’s core vote base

Data suggests that the AAP lost big as it could not even secure the second position in five of the seven seats.

india Updated: May 25, 2019 01:31 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
The BJP retained all seven Lok Sabha seats that it won in the 2014 polls, only with better margins this time.
The BJP retained all seven Lok Sabha seats that it won in the 2014 polls, only with better margins this time.(Diwakar Prasad/ Hindustan Times)

Voters in the slum clusters and unauthorised colonies, considered supporters of the Aam Aadmi Party, voted decisively for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) while Muslims backed the Congress, an analysis of the assembly constituency-wise vote shares of the three parties shows.

The BJP retained all seven Lok Sabha seats that it won in the 2014 polls, only with better margins this time. Data suggests that the AAP lost big as it could not even secure the second position in five of the seven seats.

The shift of its core voters in the slum and unauthorised colonies and the Muslims seems to explain the Aam Aadmi Party’s poor showing in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Delhi.

Backed by an improved showing in the Muslim-dominated assembly seats, the Congress’s overall vote share increased by 7.5 percentage points compared to the 2014 elections.

The AAP, which had a vote share of 33% in 2014, faced the brunt of a clear vote split between the party and the Congress as it was reduced to the third spot with 18.1% vote share.

Unauthorised colonies and slums

In Sangam Vihar, Delhi’s biggest unauthorised colony, the BJP beat the AAP by a margin of 20,938 votes. While BJP’s Ramesh Bidhuri secured 50.22% of the votes, AAP’s Raghav Chadha got 30.71% votes. A similar story unfolded in Ambedkar Nagar, considered another AAP stronghold. In the 2015 assembly polls, the AAP got two-thirds of the total votes polled in these two assembly constituencies.

Shyam Jaju, BJP’s party in charge for Delhi, said, “This time, we have got massive support from unauthorised colonies and slums clusters, which earlier used to vote for the AAP or the Congress.”

In North East Delhi, which has the highest population of voters living in unauthorised colonies and slums compared to other parliamentary segments in the city, BJP’s Manoj Tiwari bagged nearly 60% vote share against 21.65% by the Congress’ stalwart Sheila Dikshit and 15.33% of AAP’s Dilip Pandey. This Lok Sabha seat comprises of assembly segments such as Burari, Ghonda, Seemapuri, Karawal Nagar and Gokulpur, which are inhabited by a large number of Purvanchalis, migrants from Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh.

BJP’s Parvesh Verma got a vote share of 63% in Matiala assembly seat, which comes under the West Delhi parliamentary constituency. The assembly segment is littered with illegal colonies. Both the AAP and Congress couldn’t even secure a 20% vote share.

Muslims return to the Congress

While campaigning in the Muslim-dominated segments, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had urged the community to vote decisively and not let the votes get split between the AAP and the Congress. But as the data suggests, the community seemed to have taken his advice while it voted for the Congress.

AAP’s candidates in North East Delhi (Dilip Pandey) and Chandni Chowk (Pankaj Gupta) — both lost their deposits — as the Muslims voted en bloc for the Congress.

In Chandni Chowk’s Matia Mahal segment, 65.17% of the votes were polled in favour of Congress’s J P Agarwal while AAP’s Pankaj Gupta got only 8.39%. The BJP got 25.02% of the total votes polled.

In Ballimaran, Congress polled 52.9% votes compared to AAP’s 8.97%. In fact, the BJP did better than AAP at 36.4% of the vote share.

Gopal Rai, AAP’s Delhi unit convener, acknowledged that the party could not get expected support from the Muslim neighbourhoods, unauthorised colonies and slums because the party’s poll pitch for full statehood for Delhi got lost in the personality battle between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. “Be it in Muslim dominated areas, unauthorised colonies, slums or any other segment, voting mostly happened on the narrative built by the BJP and the Congress,” said Rai.

In Okhla assembly segment, which is part of the East Delhi Lok Sabha seat, of the 1.63 lakh votes, 64% were split between Congress’s Arvinder Singh Lovely (37.1%) and AAP’s Atishi (26.9%). Similarly in Trilokpuri, the Congress and AAP got almost the same percentage of votes polled (18-19%) while the BJP got 58% votes.

Mateen Ahmed, a former Congress legislator from Seelampur, said the party got “one sided” support from Muslim voters in North East Delhi. “Muslim voters have supported the Congress across the city in this Lok Sabha election. The margins of Congress candidates have also increased this time around. For instance, the Congress got 27,609 more votes than the BJP in Seelampur where 57% residents are Muslims. The difference was around 21,000 in 2014 election,” he said.

Tanvir Aeijaz, a teacher of political science at Delhi University’s Ramjas College, said, “Muslims vote in block and not en bloc. Also, they vote against the BJP. In their perception, they vote for whosoever is the strongest candidate against the BJP in their respective constituencies. For example, in Atishi’s case there was a perception that she was a stronger candidate and that’s why Muslim vote got divided in East Delhi between her and the Congress candidate. However, in constituencies where the AAP had fielded comparatively weaker candidates, the Congress’ Muslim vote remained intact.”

BJP’s growing rural connect

BJP’s popularity in the rural belts of West, North West and South Delhi constituencies grew as the vote share of the party candidates in these segments remained well above 50%.

West Delhi MP Parvesh Verma was able to cash on his “caste connect” and the legacy of his father -- former Delhi CM late Sahib Singh Verma -- by winning a vote share of over 66% in Najafgarh, a rural belt.

The villages in Najafgarh, bordering Haryana, have remained loyal to the BJP, but the margins of victory for the BJP in these areas have doubled compared to 2014. On the other hand, the AAP and the Congress have barely managed 14% vote share in these areas.

In North West Delhi, where BJP’s Hans Raj Hans won by a margin of 5.53 lakh votes, has five out of 10 assembly constituencies falling in the rural belt of Delhi. In all of the these areas—Narela, Badli, Bawana, Mundka and Nangloi Jat—Hans’ vote share has been over 58%.

In Chhattarpur and Badarpur, BJP’s Bidhuri led with 178,356 votes, which is 60.33% of the vote share in the assembly segments combined. AAP’S Raghav Chadha got 23.62% vote share and Congress’ Vijender Singh 12.21%.

Traders and the middle-class

Despite issues such as sealing of commercial establishments and the goods and services tax (GST), most members of the business community and the working class concentrated in assembly segments such as Greater Kailash, Shalimar Bagh, Tri Nagar, Sadar Bazar and Rajouri Garden supported the BJP.

In Chandni Chowk and New Delhi Lok Sabha constituencies which have a high population of traders, the voters favoured the BJP with the vote share of party candidates remaining over 58%.

The AAP performed poorly even in chief minister and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal’s New Delhi assembly constituency, which has a large population of government employees. In this seat, the BJP got 55.7% of the total votes while the Congress got only 27.14% and the AAP just 15.20%.

In Chandni Chowk. a hub of traders, BJP candidate and sitting MP Harsh Vardhan got the highest number of votes 72,278 (64.1%) from Shalimar Bagh assembly segment of the total 112,738 votes polled from the area. His opponent JP Agarwal of the Congress managed only 19,787 (17.55%). The AAP’s Pankaj Gupta managed just 17,222 (15.27%) votes.

In New Delhi’s Greater Kailash assembly segment too BJP candidate and incumbent MP Meenakshi Lekhi got the highest number of votes 62,394 (58.37%).