New Delhi: The BJP has retained control over Delhi's municipality - it has won all the three new civic bodies carved out of the Municipal Corporation Of Delhi (MCD). Overall, the BJP has won 138 of the 272 wards; the Congress has won 78, a gain of 11 over the last time. This is the first municipal election after the MCD was divided.
In North Delhi, which is a BJP bastion, the party has posted a big win taking 59 of the 104 wards. The Congress managed just 29 seats, albeit a gain of 6 from 2007.
In East Delhi, the Congress gained 4 wards, taking its tally to 19, a distant second to the BJP's 35 in the 64-ward corporation.
The mandate for South Delhi, which saw turnouts as low as 37% in some areas is hung. Of the 104 wards, the BJP bagged 44 and the Congress 30. Here smaller parties and independents seem to hold the key as they have managed to win in 30 wards.
For both the national parties these results mean more than just control of a civic body. The BJP said this was a semifinal ahead of the Delhi Assembly elections, due in about 18 months. The party is still smarting over the rout it got at the hands of the Congress in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections when the Congress won all the 7 seats in Delhi. Retaing power in the local bodies was thus important.
For the Congress, these elections were being seen as a big test for Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit so close to the Assembly elections. As it became clear that the BJP was winning, a smiling party president Nitin Gadkari seemed to say watch this space. He said, "the BJP is emerging as an alternative."
"We have had majority in all three zones. We have done a good job and the public has supported us. As long as the Congress is concerned, the issues of price rise, corruption and anger over it has come out this time against the UPA," Mr Gadkari said. The MCD election results, he promised, would reflect in next year's Assembly polls. "
The BJP also says the Congress' move to split the MCD ingto three did not quite help its cause. "Anti-incumbency played against the Congress government in Delhi and the Centre. Trifurcation of MCD has not helped the Congress get any political advantage," BJP's Delhi veteran VK Malhotra said.
The Congress, which had few words to share, sought to downplay it saying this was "only civic polls" and should be seen as that and no more. The party insisted that the results would have no bearing on Delhi Assembly elections, due in about 18 months. " This decision was against our expectations, but we respect the decision of the people Last time the BJP had won the MCD polls but Congress came to power in Assembly. The Congress even went on to win all the seven Parliament seats. MCD polls should be seen only as MCD polls," Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said.
In the 2007 elections to an undivided MCD, the BJP had won 144 wards against the Congress' 59 and the BSP's 12.
Polling for all the wards spread in three corporations - East, South and North - was held on Sunday when over 55 per cent voters came out to vote. There are 104 wards each in the South and North corporations and 64 in the East. Of these, 138 seats are reserved for women. South has the highest number of 904 candidates followed by North (885) and East (634).