New Delhi, May 17 (IANS) The BJP on Tuesday suffered stunning losses in by-elections to Delhi’s civic bodies, winning only three of the 13 seats. First-timer AAP got five seats and the Congress four. An independent who also won later joined the Congress.
Both Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Congress leader Ajay Maken claimed victory.
Kejriwal said the people of Delhi had reaffirmed their faith in the Aam Aadmi Party, which stormed to power in assembly elections in February last year.
He said that in a municipal body where only the BJP and Congress had a presence, “outsider AAP” had gained the maximum seats.
He vowed to sweep when fresh elections were held next year for the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) and South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC).
The three bodies originally made up the Delhi Municipal Corporation (MCD), the city’s biggest civic body.
The Congress, wiped out in last year’s assembly polls, said the poor had begun to return to its fold.
“The traditional Congress voters including safai karmacharis, street vendors and slum dwellers have returned to the Congress fold,” its leader Ajay Maken told the media.
“The minority vote has also shifted to the Congress,” he said. The Congress bagged four seats despite the “money, muscle and administrative power of the AAP and BJP”, he added.
The results upset the BJP, which controls all three civic bodies. It retained only two of seven wards it won in 2012 while wresting one seat. It lost two seats each to Congress and AAP and one to an independent.
The AAP winners were Mohammed Sadiq (Ballimaran), Ashok Kumar (Vikas Nagar), Ramesh (Matiala), Anil Malik (Nanakpura) and Abhishek Bidhuri (Tehkhand).
Mahender Nagpal (Wazirpur), Bhupinder Mohan Bhandari (Shalimar Bagh) and Krishan Gehlot (Nawada) were the BJP victors.
The Congress winners were Ashok Bhardwaj (Qamaruddin Nagar), Yogita Rathee (Munirka), Anand Kumar (Khichripur) and Pankaj (Jhilmil).
Independent Rajender Singh Tanwar (Bhati) was a Congress rebel. He said after winning that he was rejoining the Congress.
Both the Congress and BJP said the results showed that the people of the capital were moving away from the AAP after voting for it overwhelmingly in the 2015 assembly elections.
AAP leader Somnath Bharti refuted the charge. “The fact is we contested municipal elections for the first time. Our senior leaders did not even campaign. If anything, this is a promising start for us in civic polls.”
Elections to the 13 seats were held on May 15, with less than 50 per cent of the over six lakh voters exercising their franchise.
BJP leaders, however, pointed out that they had garnered the maximum 34.11 per cent votes. The AAP came second at 29.93 per cent and the Congress got 24.87 percent.
Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay said his party would analyse the results. “There were many reasons. The heat kept away our core voters. And many may have left Delhi due to school vacations.”
The 13 wards – seven with SDMC, four with NDMC and two with EDMC – fell vacant after the corporators resigned to contest the Delhi assembly polls of 2013 and 2015.