New Delhi: Delhi has picked the BJP again to run three key municipal corporations, handing a huge win to the party, which it has credited to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership. The only contest today was for a poor number 2 between Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress. AAP gets that consolation prize, with the Congress third in all the municipalities. The Congress' Delhi chief Ajay Maken has resigned, while AAP has alleged that rigged voting machines led to its rout. "The people of Delhi have rejected negative politics, the politics of excuses," said BJP president Amit Shah.
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It's a third term straight for the BJP, which has won 64 of 104 wards in MCD North, 70 of 104 in MCD South and 48 of 64 in MCD East, well over the halfway mark in all three. In each, it has bettered last time's performance. The MCD was split into three corporations in 2012.
The BJP has won 181 of a total 272 wards in the three corporations, while AAP could only win 48 and the Congress had to settle for 30. The vote share of AAP has halved to 26 per cent from 54 per cent in the 2015 assembly elections that the party had swept. The BJP's win today came with a 36 per cent vote share.
The corporations will be full of new faces. The BJP, faced with allegations of a substandard handling of Delhi's civic needs in the 10 years that it has controlled the municipalities, had sought to beat any anti-incumbency sentiment by dropping its sitting councillors and picking new candidates in 267 of the total 272 wards.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has congratulated the BJP and said his "government looks forward to working with the MCDs for the betterment of Delhi".
Several of his lieutenants, including Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, have alleged that EVMs or Electronic Voting Machines were rigged to help the BJP win the MCD elections. "This is an EVM wave not a Modi wave," said Delhi minister Gopal Rai.
The BJP has called AAP a poor loser. "The same EVMs gave them 67 of 70 seats in the Assembly election. That time it was fine but now you have lost, there is problem with EVMs," said Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu. The party's Shazia Ilmi, a former member of AAP, said "Kejriwal is a drama queen."
For AAP, today's loss is a new political low. Chief Minister Kejriwal's party, which had swept assembly elections in Delhi two years ago, is already reeling from humiliating losses in the Punjab and Goa assembly elections last month.
The win today is an important addition to the BJP's list of victories this year in state and local polls across the country. The party worked hard to win, still smarting at being reduced to just three seats in the Delhi assembly in 2015, as AAP swept 67 of the 70 seats. In the 2014 national election, the BJP had won all seven of Delhi's parliament seats.