Arvind Kejriwal’s development model trounced the BJP’s strident campaign mounted around the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won a landslide victory in the Delhi Assembly elections on Tuesday. “Delhi has birthed a new kind of politics. It is a model called ‘politics of work’. I thank Lord Hanuman that he has blessed this son of Delhi and people of Delhi,” said a beaming Kejriwal, flanked by his wife Sunita and children, and his associates Sanjay Singh and Ashish Talwar, to a jubilant crowd of supporters at the AAP headquarters.
A bitter campaign, during which Kejriwal was called a “terrorist” in a contest that AAP turncoat Kapil Mishra, who ran on a BJP ticket from Model Town, dubbed an “India-Pakistan match” ended on a cordial note. Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Kejriwal on his victory to which he replied, “Thank you so much, sir. I look forward to working closely with the Centre to make our Capital city into a truly world class city.”
Kejriwal’s third term as Delhi CM also marked a national reckoning, with leaders of all Opposition parties hailing his “development model” while some, like West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said it marks a defeat for a communally divisive agenda around the CAA-National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).
According to Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar, the Delhi results indicate “winds of change” are blowing in the country. “The BJP, as usual, played the communal card to polarise votes, but failed,” said Pawar.
In the final tally, AAP has won a whopping 62 of the 70 seats in the Delhi Assembly while the BJP was to settle with 8 seats. The Congress drew a blank for the second consecutive time since 2015 in a State where its late leader Sheila Dikshit had ruled as Chief Minister for 15 years.
Voter preference varied dramatically from the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, where the AAP had been reduced to the third slot with just about 18 per cent of the vote share and no seats. Kejriwal’s party garnered a staggering 53.6 per cent vote share in the 70-member assembly.
The BJP had won all the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi in May 2019 with a vote share of 56.58 per cent. The Congress was the runner-up in the Lok Sabha with 22.46 per cent vote share although it did not win any seats. In the Assembly, the Congress was humiliated with just 4.3 per cent of the vote with as many as 60 of its 66 candidates having to forfeit their deposits.
Significantly, although Kejriwal countered the BJP’s heightened ideological campaign with a soft-Hindutva pitch combined with his education/health/development-centric narrative and refused to either visit or support the anti-CAA protests in Shaheen Bagh, the Muslims in Delhi overwhelmingly voted for the AAP.
In Okhla, the Assembly seat where Shaheen Bagh is located, AAP candidate Amanatullah Khan secured 75.69 per cent of the vote share and 1,11,761 votes. The Congress got 2.64 per cent of the vote share with its veteran candidate Parvez Hashmi polling just 3,893 votes. In Muslim-majority constituencies such as Ballimaran, Mustafabad, Seelampur and Matia Mahal, Muslims voted in large numbers for AAP. Kejriwal recited the Hanuman Chalisa during the campaign and thanked “Hanumanji for the victory” in his address to party supporters on Tuesday.
The AAP candidate in Matia Mahal, Shoaib Iqbal, got 75.96 per cent of the vote share and 67,250 votes while the Congress’s Mirza Javaid got just about 3.85 per cent of the vote share and just 3,403 votes. Two of the BJP’s three MLAs in the previous assembly, OP Sharma from Vishwas Nagar and Devender Gupta from Rohini, managed to win again while the party was to satisfy with just six seats. BJP President JP Nadda conceded defeat and congratulated Kejriwal on the AAP’s victory.