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India
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Saffron sweep in Delhi, AAP pushed to number 3

Highlights

The combined vote share of Congress and Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi fell far short of votes polled by BJP
NEW DELHI: Bharatiya Janata Party coasted to a massive victory on all seven Lok Sabha seats in the capital with an impressive vote share of 56.5%, 10 percentage points higher than the 46.6% it had polled in 2014.
The scale of BJP’s victory can be gauged from the fact that two of its candidates — Hans Raj Hans and Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma — got more than 60% votes while the other five too crossed the 50% mark. Aam Aadmi Party, which had polled an impressive 33.1% in its debut Lok Sabha election in 2014, put up a dismal performance and was relegated to the third position with its vote share down to 18.1%.
Congress put up an improved show. While it had barely managed just 15.2% of the votes in 2014 with three of its candidates losing their security deposits, this time the party polled 22.5% of the votes. Though the margins of loss were huge, Congress came second on five seats.
AAP, Congress played into BJP’s hands
With BJP polling more than half the votes in the city, the combined vote share of Congress and Aam Aadmi Party fell far short of the saffron party’s tally.
Congress and AAP were engaged in long-drawn-out talks on seat-sharing in Delhi which ultimately fell through. Three AAP candidates – Pankaj Gupta from Chandni Chowk, Dilip Pandey from North East and Brijesh Goyal from New Delhi — and ace boxer and Congress candidate from South Delhi constituency, Vijender Singh, lost their security deposit. A candidate is required to get a minimum of 16.7% of total polled votes to save deposit.
In an interesting fight, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari defeated his closest rival and state unit president of Congress, Sheila Dikshit, by a margin of 3.6 lakh to retain the North East Delhi constituency. Tiwari accepted that he was initially worried with the Congress fielding the three-time chief minister against him. “But the response that I got from the voters in my constituency made me confident of my victory,” he told TOI.
Dikshit told TOI earlier in the day, when BJP had started building up its massive lead, that she was surprised with the result. “Let me overcome this shock first,” she said. Asked if a Modi wave was the reason behind these results, she said, “So it seems.”
Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma, the West Delhi MP and son of former BJP CM Sahib Singh, emerged as the biggest winner by defeating his closest rival, Mahabal Mishra of Congress, by more than 5.8 lakh votes. Sufi singer Hans Raj Hans, contesting his first election in Delhi, polled 5.5 lakh more than his closest rival, Gugan Singh of AAP.
Ex-cricketer Gautam Gambhir, whose election campaign was marred by controversies, defeated his closest rival, Arvinder Singh Lovely of Congress, by 3.9 lakh votes.
AAP’s desperation on an alliance with Congress appears to have taken a toll on the party’s prospects. In dozens of public meetings, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had said that if an AAP-Congress alliance didn’t happen, it would lead to division of votes which would benefit BJP. He had said that he would pin the blame on Congress chief Rahul Gandhi if BJP won in such a scenario. The talks for an alliance got prolonged and eventually collapsed, leaving several AAP workers demoralised. Eventually, even the Muslims deserted AAP, settling for Congress.
AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal congratulated PM Narendra Modi for his historic win and stated on Twitter that he looked forward to working together for the benefit of the people of Delhi. AAP leaders who were raising questions on EVMs, carefully refrained from uttering that word. “We fielded good candidates in Delhi, carried out an excellent campaign and all workers put in hard work. People mandate is supreme. We will continue to work for the people of Delhi,” Kejriwal stated on Twitter.
All parties agreed that the result will have an impact on the 2020 Delhi assembly polls, just eight months away. While BJP is in an advantageous position, the assembly polls may be influenced more by local issues. AAP is counting on its peformance.
Asked if the dilly-dallying over the alliance with AAP left little time for drawing up a strategy for the campaign, Dikshit said, “Yes, I certainly agree with you”. However, when asked if she regretted that Congress did not form an alliance with AAP, she said: “No, I don't regret it at all. I think it was the right decision at that time. In any case, what has AAP gained?”

Navbharat Times

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