MCD bypolls: Mixed verdict gives AAP no cheer; BJP had better watch out

The Aam Aadmi Party will be a tad disappointed with its performance in the civic body by-polls in Delhi. For a party that never tires of claiming to be deriving its strength from the masses and done a lot for them while in power, it was a test of popularity of sorts. By winning five out of 13, it didn’t exactly pass with flying colours. However, it can take solace from the fact that arch-rival BJP didn’t perform too well either. It retained only three of the seven seats it held earlier. The Congress, with five seats, had some reason to cheer.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The by-poll results do not change the larger political equations in Delhi, but the AAP’s entry into the MCD — that has been dominated by the BJP ever since the trifurcation of the Delhi civic body close to four years ago — will have an impact on grassroot-level politics in the capital state. The full-fledged election to the civic body is due next year. AAP will seek to quickly expand its presence to have more control over decision-making in the MCD.

A few months ago, in the wake of the long stir of civic body staff over pending salaries, the AAP-led state government had demanded that all three civic bodies in Delhi — east, south and north — open their accounts to scrutiny. The BJP-led corporations had strongly objected to it, claiming the Delhi government had failed to clear the funds due to them. The former had also alleged mismanagement of corporation affairs by the BJP. AAP’s presence in the corporations is likely to make the conflict sharper. However, it would need to secure enough numbers next years to take the battle into the rival camp.

For the BJP, the signals emanating from the results should be a bit disturbing. It has not yet recovered from the jolt delivered by the AAP in the 2015 Assembly elections, where the latter won 67 of the 70 Assembly seats. While it has indulged in high decibel battles with the ruling party, it has done little to reach out to the masses to gain ground. If the AAP takes forward the momentum of today’s civic by-poll aggressively, it will be in a crisis in Delhi.

In political terms, losing out in Delhi to an openly hostile party could be disastrous for the BJP.

The Congress has made small gains, but full recovery for the party could be way off. Coming in the middle of exit polls in the latest round of Assembly elections that give it dismal numbers, it has little about which to be too happy with the corporation results. It has not done much at the level of the masses to earn its victories in the wards. That’s why when senior Congress leader Ajay Maken attributed the performance to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, it seemed a bit ridiculous.

In sum, the results are a wake-up call for the BJP and a signal for the AAP to consolidate its gains and push ahead towards its target.

The Congress has to work harder.

Updated Date: May 17, 2016 13:58 PM

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