The Bawana bypoll on Wednesday will pose a real challenge for Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to regain the trust deficit the party has been facing for quite some time.
The election will be a real test for the AAP which has faced a series of losses, from Assembly elections in Punjab and Goa to recent municipal elections since it came to power in Delhi in 2015 with a record victory by winning 67 seats out of 70.
Rajouri Garden bypoll was a case in point, where the AAP candidate lost his deposit and the BJP won the seat. The seat belonged to AAP and it got vacated after its legislator Jarnail Singh had quit to contest the Punjab election. Eventually, he lost both.
Moreover, the ruling party had a dismal performance in the Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCD) polls and the BJP won all the three municipal bodies.
Bawana, one of the reserved constituencies for candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes (SC) in the northwest Delhi has 2,94,589 voters. One of Dellhi’s largest constituencies on the outskirts, it consists of a large number of villages.
The seat got vacated when its AAP MLA Ved Prakash resigned just before the MCD polls and joined the BJP.
A triangular battle
Since 1993, six elections have been held in Bawana, out of which Congress won thrice, BJP twice and AAP once. While the BJP has fielded Ved Prakash as its candidate, Ramchandra will be contesting from AAP and Surendra Kumar, a former MLA, will represent the Congress party.
If for the AAP it's a do or die situation, for the Congress, this bypoll will be an opportunity to gain entry into the Assembly. Congress did relatively well in the Rajouri Garden bypoll and it wants to maintain that tempo to win back the seat. After winning consecutively for three terms, the party lost the seat in the 2015 election. This time, Congress seems to be serious in its approach, as it has made former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda as in-charge and chief strategist.
The AAP had won the seat by over 50,000 votes in 2015 by defeating three-term Congress MLA Surendra Kumar. Banking on its work done in Delhi, the AAP has chosen Ramchandra, a party worker from the constituency and former member of the Bahujan Samaj Party as its candidate. Both Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia have been closely monitoring the poll process and held rallies to address its vote bank.
For the BJP, winning the seat will be important because it has to keep pace with the spreading dominance of the party under Prime Minister Narendra Modi elsewhere in the country. It may just be an Assembly bypoll for one seat but its result will have a bearing on the fortunes of the ruling AAP that needs to reconnect with the people of the national capital. Results will be announced on 28 August.
Updated Date: Aug 23, 2017 07:53 AM