Bawana bypolls decoded: AAP reverses fortunes after string of defeats, but faces an ascendant Congress

What do the results of the Bawana bypolls in Delhi mean for the Aam Aadmi Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress?

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (right) with his deputy Manish Sisodia (left). PTI

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (right) with his deputy Manish Sisodia (left). PTI

Though a bypoll in an Assembly segment is hardly seen as a matter of political significance, the win comes at a crucial time for the AAP, which is under siege from both within and without.

Monday's results come after a string of defeats for the AAP and will offer them sweet relief. After all, the party has had no major electoral success since its historic win in 2015 Delhi Assembly election.

The AAP's emphatic victory — by more than 24,000 votes — left the BJP and the Congress in their dust. This outcome is in sharp contrast to the result of April's Rajouri Garden bypolls where the AAP finished third and also with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi results where the AAP came a distant second to BJP with a difference of 133 seats.

Apart from its repeated failures, the morale of party workers was brought low by allegations of corruption raised against Arvind Kejriwal by Kapil Mishra, a former minister in his Cabinet. The allegations, levelled at the moment when the AAP was thought to be approaching its nadir, was seen as the final nail in the coffin.

Many began to write the party off, believing that the AAP's last saving grace — Arvind Kejriwal's image as a man of principle and an incorruptible leader — was evaporating before their very eyes.

But Bawana surprised many.

Kejriwal makes changes

Interestingly, the results also came after Kejriwal made drastic changes to his behaviour.

He went from being outspoken and never missing an opportunity to criticise Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a man of few words who made a great effort to reach out to the people.

But despite this silver lining, the AAP will soon have to confront a new and unexpected challenge: The rise of the Congress.

Congress is ascendant

In the 2015 Assembly election, the Congress was nearly wiped off the map in Delhi.

But now, the Congress has more than doubled its 2015 vote tally. This time, the party secured 31,919 votes in Bawana compared to 14,749 in 2015.

The Congress increase in vote share in Bawana, taken together with the party's improved performance in the Rajouri Garden bypolls, means that the party is reclaiming its lost voter base from the AAP.


The Bawana result is seen as a setback for the BJP after a string of wins in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.

The defeat is also seen as a false start for new Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, who many expected to strike a chord in the heart of the capital's Purvanchali vote bank. The BJP estimated that nearly 35 percent of all Bawana voters were Purvanchalis.

An India Today article predicted that BJP would take the Bawana bypolls and Tiwari would be established as the undisputed leader of Dehi's Purvanchalis, whose population has grown nearly 40 percent in recent years.

But those predictions fell flat on their face.


Updated Date: Aug 29, 2017 09:02 AM

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