"They Stole It, We Won It Back": Arvind Kejriwal On Big Chandigarh Win

The victory for AAP, and INDIA, is a welcome shot in the arm for a grouping that was, and still is, on the verge of collapse less than a year after it was formed with high hopes.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (File).

New Delhi:

Arvind Kejriwal has welcomed a Supreme Court order awarding the AAP's Kuldeep Kumar victory in last month's Chandigarh mayoral poll. He also hailed a key first win for the INDIA bloc, which was formed last year to defeat the BJP in the Lok Sabha election but has faced multiple crises since.

The Aam Aadmi Party boss then ripped into rivals Bharatiya Janata Party, accusing it of "dictatorship" and of trying to steal the election. The Delhi Chief Minister also issued a dire warning ahead of the April/May election, in which over 90 crore Indians are eligible to vote for a new government.

"The way the Supreme Court brought the ballot papers (to the court) and declared the results... I think this is the first time since independence that this has happened. We thank the Supreme Court... there is dictatorship (in India) and institutions are being crushed. This judgement matters."

"They (the BJP) stole the election... we won it back. This is a big win for INDIA. Those who say BJP can't be defeated... they should know... yes, they can. I want to congratulate all INDIA partners (and) this is also a victory for the people of Chandigarh," a jubilant Mr Kejriwal told reporters.

"There were votes in this election (and the) BJP stole eight, which is 25 per cent. Soon there will be a bigger election... in which there will be over 90 crore votes. Imagine how many they can steal!"

The BJP's Manoj Sonkar was earlier declared the winner of the January 31 election, which controversially saw eight votes - all for the AAP candidate - discarded by Returning Officer Anil Masih.

READ | AAP Candidate Declared Chandigarh Mayor By Supreme Court

Earlier today the court found he had deliberately invalidated the electoral process.

READ | Chandigarh Mayor Polls Officer Served Notice By Supreme Court

Consequently, the Supreme Court made history by declaring the results of an election in the courtroom rather than a counting centre. In another unprecedented move, it has also initiated contempt of court action against Mr Masih, who was warned of prosecution if he was caught lying.

"His (Mr Masih's) luck was bad... CCTV cameras were installed and everything was on camera. It is clear how massively they (the BJP) steal votes," Mr Kejriwal said.

Big Win For AAP, And INDIA Bloc

The victory for AAP, and the INDIA bloc, is a welcome shot in the arm for a grouping that was, and still is, on the verge of collapse less than a year after it was formed with high hopes.

The bloc faces multiple challenges, particularly in reaching seat-sharing deals before the general election. On this subject, it has been snubbed by the Trinamool Congress in Bengal and even by Mr Kejriwal's AAP in Punjab, and is on thin ice with Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh.

READ | INDIA Unity In Uttar Pradesh Hinges On Congress Reply

Janata Dal (United) boss Nitish Kumar, widely seen as a founder of the INDIA bloc, has walked out and realigned with the BJP, and, back in UP, Jayant Chaudhary's Rashtriya Lok Dal is understood to have gone the same route, despite having agreed a deal with the Samajwadi Party just last month.

READ | Congress, AAP "Mutually Agreed" To Go Solo In Punjab: Kejriwal

Against this backdrop, the AAP-Congress alliance for the Chandigarh poll was seen as a breakthrough.

READ | "Scorecard 1-0 For INDIA": AAP, Congress Tie Up For Key Polls

The initial result - the 'defeat' - was seen as adding further strain on INDIA and the AAP-Congress ties, which will now likely be viewed in a more favourable light. But just how encouraging is not yet clear, and will be revealed after the next round of seat-sharing talks between the two parties.

With input from agencies

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