AAP reverses electoral setbacks

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) returned to its winning streak in Delhi by retaining Bawana Assembly seat in a bypoll with a margin of 24,052 votes after suffering a series of electoral shocks in the past months.

BJP had a loss of face in the result as its gamble with AAP turncoat Ved Prakash, the sitting MLA who joined the saffron party and contested the bypoll, fell flat. Congress’ dreams of opening account in Delhi Assembly polls also did not fructify.

AAP’s Ram Chander polled 59,886 votes while Ved Prakash, who polled 1.09 lakh votes in the 2015 polls, managed only 35,834 votes. Congress candidate Surendra Kumar, a three-time MLA from Bawana who was fielded with the hope of regaining the seat, could muster only 31,919 votes.

The final results came after initial moments of anxiety in AAP camp as it trailed in third position till the first 12 of 28 rounds. Congress initially sprinted with the lead but AAP caught up before establishing an unassailable lead while BJP at one point seemed to be settling at third position.

The result puts a brake on BJP’s poll victories in the capital where it had won the Rajouri Garden bypoll by defeating Congress candidate and pushing AAP to third position. It had also won the elections to three municipal corporations in a convincing margin and it came after its crushing defeat in the 2015 Assembly polls where it could bag only three seats in a House of 70.

The Delhi BJP leadership would have to answer tough questions over the defeat as it would give AAP a fresh breather.

If the results left BJP with a gloomy face, the AAP’s thumping victory has come as huge relief for the party and its chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who faced rebellion in the party after the electoral reverses in Delhi as well as in the Assembly polls in Punjab and Goa earlier this year.

Soon after the civic polls loss, the AAP had plunged into a turmoil after senior leader Kumar Vishwas launched a rebellion over the ways the party was run. The leadership managed to cool his tempers but one of the MLAs Kapil Mishra, who was considered close to Vishwas, levelled allegations against Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Health Minister Satyendar Jain.

Congress was pinning hopes on Kumar’s popularity in the area but it could not match up with the AAP.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald website on Aug 28, 2017)


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