New Delhi: By-elections to the West Delhi's Rajouri Garden assembly seat over this weekend could be the trailer to the national capital's municipal elections this month that is seen as a litmus test for the Aam Aadmi Party which won an unprecedented 67 of the 70 seats in 2015 assembly elections.
It would also indicate if the high-pitch campaign by the BJP and the Congress, which were decimated in the state elections two years earlier, had been able to dent AAP's support base. The results for the by-elections will be declared on April 13, ten days before the capital votes for the three civic bodies.
Since 1993, Rajouri Garden had been electing a Congress candidate with the exception of the last two elections when it voted the BJP-Akali Dal combine candidate in 2013, and in 2015, when it gave the AAP a chance. Quite like the rest of Delhi.
AAP legislator Jarnail Singh had quit the seat after the party decided to field him in this week's Punjab assembly elections against the Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal, necessitating the by-elections. Singh lost, but he isn't coming back to Delhi.
The party has come up with a new face - Harjeet Singh - for the election. The BJP-SAD combine has fielded veteran Manjinder Singh Sirsa, who had won the seat in 2013 but lost out by about 10,000 votes in 2015. He received about 44,000 votes.
The Congress, which ruled the city for 15 years at a stretch, is leaving no stone unturned to pull off a victory and register its presence in the 70-member Delhi Assembly.
The seat fell vacant early this year after AAP's Jarnail Singh quit as MLA to contest Punjab Assembly poll against SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal, only to lose and considerably dent AAP's chances of holding on to the seat.
While Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addressed one rally in the area, the Congress brought in newly elected Punjab CM Amarinder Singh to address the voters in constituency dominated by the Punjabi community. The two had several feuds in the run up to the Punjab polls where Amarinder, a Congress giant, trounced the Kejriwal-led AAP and relegated the BJP-SAD to the third position.
(With PTI Inputs)