BJP fielded seasoned politician Manjinder Singh Sirsa for the by-election.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal must resign, said a triumphant Manjinder Singh Sirsa of the BJP after he won the assembly by-election in the capital's Rajouri Garden by 14,500 votes. The Congress came second and Mr Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party, which had held the seat till a few months ago, lost its deposit
. Today's result, the winner said, is a rejection of AAP by the people.
"It's a big mandate by the people of Delhi. It's a sign that Kejriwal must resign. He must resign so that people can have a government that they like," said Mr Sirsa, also stating that the by-election result will "impact the civic polls" to be held in Delhi 10 days from now. "The BJP will win over 250 seats," said the new BJP legislator, the fourth in an assembly of 70 dominated by AAP. The three municipal corporations of Delhi for which elections
will be held this month have a total 272 seats.
The municipal elections in Delhi on April 23 are seen as AAP's last chance to prove it is still politically relevant, after the party's poor performance in Punjab and status on non-starter in Goa in assembly elections this year.
"This is the loss of Kejriwal...Today AAP is moving away from the scene... The way Congress has increased its graph suggests that people have understood the inability of AAP," said the Congress' Haroon Yusuf.
Manjinder Singh Sirsa, who lists himself as "an agriculturist and businessman" will be Delhi's richest MLA. He replaces in that position AAP's Pramila Tokas, who is the legislator from RK Puram. Mr Sirsa had contested the assembly elections from Rajouri Garden in 2015 against AAP's Jarnail Singh, who won as his party swept the state winning 67 of Delhi's 70 seats. Mr Sirsa was number 2 then.
The by-election was held because Jarnail Singh resigned in January this year to contest the Punjab assembly elections, which AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal was confident his party would win. Jarnail Singh went up against former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and lost. AAP came in a poor second in Punjab, suffering a twin blow as it failed to with even a single seat in the other state election it contested - Goa.
Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said despite today's setback, "we will keep preparing for the coming elections". He said AAP recognises that the "people in the Rajouri Garden assembly constituency were angry after Jarnail Singh resigned....We tried to make them understand, but seeing the trends it seems they are still angry with AAP."
But AAP's Jarnail Singh said his party needs to honestly introspect why it lost so badly today. "Win or loss is part of the electoral politics, but the party needs a deep and honest introspection. A party fights collectively and win or loss is a collective responsibility," he said.