New Delhi: The BJP juggernaut on Wednesday rolled into the national capital and headed towards a resounding mandate in the municipal polls, crushing the ruling AAP and relegating the Congress to the margins. The BJP's grand entry in local politics comes two years after it suffered a shock defeat in the Assembly polls in which a near-absolute majority had catapulted the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP into the national stage.
For the AAP, the rout comes after successive jolts in Punjab, Goa and the Rajouri Garden Assembly bypoll in New Delhi, effectively plunging it into a crisis against the backdrop of the opposition treating it as a "referendum" on the Kejriwal government. The saffron party is headed for a landslide victory in all the three civic corporations — North, South and East — with over 150 wards already in its kitty, more than its existing strength in the three bodies. The city has a total of 272 wards.
With this, the AAP's grip over New Delhi will considerably weaken, in terms of perception if not numbers, as it will not dent its comfortable majority in the 70-member Delhi Assembly. The Congress, that was hoping to bounce back by putting up a creditable show, is staring at political oblivion. Ajay Maken, who has steered the party's local unit over the last two years, has resigned as the Delhi Pradesh Congress chief.
The AAP's top leadership put up a brave front suggesting it was all expected due to tampering with EVMs, an allegation that has been rubbished by the Election Commission. "EVM tampering is the bitter truth of the country's democracy. One can crack jokes on us initially, but fearing being made fun of, we cannot refrain from speaking the truth," Deputy Chief minister Manish Sisodia told reporters.
However, a section of the party, including senior leaders, privately distanced themselves from the official line on pinning the entire blame for its defeat on alleged EVM manipulation.
The discontent within the party ranks is yet to come into the open. However, Chandni Chowk MLA Alka Lamba's offer to resign owing "responsibility" for the debacle pointed towards an impending churning.
Experts credited the BJP's landslide victory to the "Modi wave", while the AAP's debacle was described as the bursting of a political bubble.
Sanjay Kumar, Director of the Centre for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), was of the view that the AAP's defeat will "reduce its chances of survival".
"The way the AAP has been routed, its chances of survival have been reduced. Parties contest elections all the time, they win and they lose as well, it should not be too worrisome for them. But, the AAP's case is different," he said.
Updated Date: Apr 26, 2017 16:00 PM