The party wrested the Delhi Municipal Corporation from the BJP, which had ruled it since 2007.
Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has won the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections, toppling the BJP, which had ruled the civic body since 2007.
AAP secured a decisive majority by winning 134 wards out of 250. The BJP got 104 seats, while the Congress, which ran a weak campaign, had to be content with just nine wards.
For Delhiites, the MCD result has come as a breath of fresh air as it ended the civic body’s long-running standoff with the state government. The AAP leadership seemed quite confident that the MCD victory would now help the party redress public grievances. “We need the support of the central government and the blessings of the prime minister to do our work,” AAP chief and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal told a rally, promising to reduce corruption in the MCD administration.
Now, the AAP’s double engine in Delhi is faced with the uphill task of clearing mountains of garbage to ensure a clean Delhi, apart from long-standing issues of the MCD such as a contingent workforce, salaries timely disbursement of taxes, creation of trading and vending zones, simplified licensing procedures, garbage collection, scarce parking spaces, dilapidated civic infrastructure, urban homelessness, and providing safe drinking water in slums and peripheral areas of the city.
The MCD results have left BJP leaders in a quandary amid the ongoing tussle between the Arvind Kejriwal government and the Center over control of administrative services. The saffron party had pulled out all stops to retain its dominance over the civic body. The BJP, which lacks a state leader as popular as Kejriwal and ran a campaign centered around Prime Minister Narendra Modi, initially targeted the AAP over its failure to clean up the heavily polluted Yamuna river, but eventually won its votes. To strengthen the base, did the politics of polarization.
Read also: MCD election brings garbage and polluted Yamuna into focus
During its campaign, AAP capitalized on the MCD’s anti-incumbency and a public perception that the body was plagued by corruption and inefficiency under BJP rule. It hit out at the BJP for failing to address the issue of garbage besides public grievances related to civic amenities.
The BJP has not been able to form a state government in Delhi for the past 24 years, but it retained the MCD two years after the AAP won 67 out of 70 seats in the 2015 assembly elections. Contrary to exit poll predictions about the 2022 MCD election, the BJP’s vote share in the MCD increased from 37 per cent in 2017 to around 39 per cent when the civic body was bifurcated into East, South and North corporations. After the integration of the three municipal bodies of the national capital in May this year, the 250-ward MCD went to polls on December 4 in which 1,349 candidates were in the fray.
The voting percentage remained around 50 per cent. Observers said the high-octane campaign failed to enthuse voters in affluent areas. On the other hand, he said, turnout was higher in low-income colonies and poor areas, including unauthorized colonies, clusters and rural pockets, where residents are heavily dependent on Delhi government’s welfare schemes such as free electricity, water, bus travel. for women, and health care in Mohalla clinics.
Reacting to the results, senior AAP leader and Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia said the mandate has defeated the “world’s biggest and most negative party”. He wrote on Twitter, ‘For us it is not just a victory, it is a big responsibility.’
AAP MP Sanjay Singh said, “Fake cases and fake allegations could not stop our party.” During the MCD elections and assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, AAP accused the ruling BJP of harassing its leaders through various government agencies.
Senior AAP leader and Delhi’s Environment Minister Gopal Rai termed the MCD results as a clear message for the BJP. “If the BJP does not work for the welfare of the people, they will go for Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party. The residents of Delhi have told the BJP loud and clear,” he told reporters.
AAP’s Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann saw the election results as a “defeat of the BJP’s politics of hate”. Mann said: “People need schools, hospitals, electricity and sanitation.”
Despite campaigning for seven BJP Chief Ministers and several Union Ministers and MPs, the BJP failed to gain the confidence of the voters. Still, it thanked the voters. BJP MP Manoj Tiwari, who campaigned aggressively, said on Twitter, “For the fourth time in a row, the people of Delhi have shown faith in the BJP and given so many seats to the party.”