New Delhi, Feb. 11: Scripting an amazing victory for the third time in a row in Delhi Assembly elections, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) today rode on the crest of an electoral wave it set into motion on its performance, once again checkmating the all-powerful BJP and its master strategists.
Defending its citadel, AAP bagged 62 seats in the 70-member Legislative Assembly, five short of its 67-mark of 2015, but significant in the face of a tenacious late challenge mounted by the BJP that came a distant second with eight seats, though an improvement from three seats in the outgoing House. The Congress failed to win any seat.
Helmed by 51-year-old engineer-bureaucrat-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal, AAP rekindled popular imagination of denizens of Delhi, who reaffirmed faith in the party and its leader that delivered on its promise to alter the model of governance with focus on welfare schemes — inexpensive public education, health and low-cost electricity.
Addressing party supporters, Kejriwal began by saying “I love you” and characterised the triumph as a new era of work in politics. He ended with “Vande Mataram” and reminded the gathering that it was Tuesday, the day associated with Lord Hanuman, whose name was invoked in the run-up to the polls.
The AAP first rode to office in 2013 with outside support from the Congress but could never settle in. When Kejriwal quit following differences, he was charged with running away from responsibility. But the AAP convener redeemed himself with a stunning return to power in 2015.
While conceding defeat, the BJP drew comfort from its vote share that rose by 6 per cent from 32.2 in 2015 to 38.5 now. AAP, on the other hand, saw an under 1 per cent fall.
The BJP unleashed a huge army of karyakartas led by a determined Home Minister Amit Shah, who enrolled ministers, MPs and others as foot soldiers criss-crossing Delhi bylanes. The BJP grossly overestimated its electoral harvest while ridiculing exit polls predictions. The Congress had to face the ignominy of its inability to win a single seat.-Agencies
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