BJP’s sweeping victory in the election to three Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCD) is a revenge of sorts after its humiliating defeat in the Delhi state election two years ago when it won a meagre three out of the 70 Assembly seats, and the relatively new Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) registered a stunning victory winning the rest 67 seats.
Two years after that spectacular success in the Assembly polls, the AAP has been made to bite the dust in the MCD election the results of which were declared on Wednesday. The ruling party of the Delhi state has been roundly defeated in all three municipal corporations in Delhi by the incumbent BJP, a party which has been in control of the MCD for last 10 years and which is also currently in power at the Centre.
Though it was just a municipal election, it ended up becoming a high-profile contest, with both BJP and AAP going all-out to win the trust of the Delhi residents. The Congress was supposed to be a minor player at the hustings.
For AAP, the MCD election was a means to have greater control over the affairs of Delhi. Sandwiched between a BJP-controlled MCD and BJP-led NDA-ruled Centre, the AAP felt that, despite its unprecedented victory in the Assembly election, it was not able to deliver on its electoral promises to the Delhi public. Control over the MCD would have expanded its footprint at the grassroots level.
Moreover, the victory in the MCD election would have come as a sorely needed boost to the party’s morale, especially after its much-vaunted electoral campaign for snatching power in Punjab and Goa ended in a damp squib.
For BJP, the MCD election was important for two reasons: First, to maintain the momentum of the winning spree in different state election achieved over the past year, the latest being the landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh; second, Delhi was specifically important to avenge the humiliation of 2015, when the party failed to win even 10 percent seats to legally claim the position of the Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly.
The humiliation was difficult to swallow because just over a year before that election, in December 2013 Assembly polls, the saffron party had emerged as the single-largest party in the state winning 40 percent seats in the Assembly and again in May 2014 general elections, it had made a clean sweep taking all seven seats of Delhi. Therefore, for the BJP, victory in the MCD elections was a must to avenge the defeat of 2015.
Clearly, Kejriwal’s national ambition did him in. He spent a lot of time last year campaigning in Punjab as he most likely saw himself as the chief minister of the prosperous state if AAP could have managed to win a majority in the Assembly election held in February this year. But AAP and Kejriwal’s dreams were shattered by the relatively poor showing in the state.
So holding on to Delhi, its only bastion at the moment, was crucial for Kejriwal. But the people of Delhi decided to teach a lesson to the absentee chief minister who seemed to take Delhi voters for granted. The severe defeat in the MCD election has brought Kejriwal down to earth.
But the question is: Has the MCD election result sent out a message that it is curtains for AAP and Kejriwal in Delhi?
Many would be tempted to say yes but that would be a sweeping observation. Apart from the given wisdom that one cannot for sure write the political obituary of a leader or a party, the fact is that in Delhi, the municipal, state and Lok Sabha election have shown contrarian trends over the years.
Just go back 20 years. In the 1997 MCD election, the BJP had registered an impressive victory by winning 79 of the 134 wards existing then. The Congress then got only 37 seats. But just a year later, in the 1998 Delhi Assembly election, the Congress received a thumping mandate by winning 52 of the 70 seats; the BJP could win only 15 seats. But, again a year later, in October 1999 general elections, BJP swept the polls in Delhi winning all seven seats.
However, in the 2002 MCD election, the political fortune reversed; the Congress swept the polls, though the BJP was then still ruling at the Centre. Next year, in 2003, the Congress managed to retain power in Delhi. And the very next year, in 2004, Congress-led UPA came to power at the Centre; it won six out of seven seats in Delhi.
For three years, from 2004 till 2007, Congress ruled over the Centre, Delhi state and Delhi Municipal Corporation. But that dream run of the Congress came to an end in 2007 when BJP took control of the MCD winning 164 of the 272 seats. But the BJP could not repeat this performance in the state Assembly election a year later. In 2008, Sheila Dikshit won a splendid third successive term for the Congress in Delhi. Congress continued its success story in 2009 Lok Sabha election when it retained power at the Centre and won all seven seats of Delhi.
But the Congress could not wrest the control of the MCD from the BJP in the 2012 election, though the party was in power both at the Centre and the state of Delhi that year.
In 2013, debutant AAP entered the fray as a third player in Delhi Assembly election. It captured the popular imagination by running down the establishment politics represented by the Congress and the BJP and came out with flying colours. It had a short stint of 49 days in power.
In 2014, the BJP, under Narendra Modi, swept the national polls. It won all the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi. But barely nine months later, AAP scripted history by inflicting the most humiliating defeat on the BJP in the Delhi Assembly election. And now, in 2017, the BJP has won an impressive victory in the municipal election in Delhi by trouncing the AAP.
Political history of Delhi tells us that, despite this momentous victory of the BJP in the MCD polls, the possibilities in the 2019 Lok Sabha election and 2020 Assembly election in the state remain wide open.
Updated Date: Apr 26, 2017 13:39 PM