Kejriwal’s broom sweeps away BJP, Congress
AAP gets absolute majority, BJP reduced to three seats
NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 10
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) juggernaut steamrollered its opponents as it scored an overwhelming victory in the Delhi assembly polls on Tuesday, handing the BJP its first electoral defeat since Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the party to power in last year’s general election. The AAP won as many as 67 seats in the 70-member House, going far beyond the most optimistic exit polls and its own wildest expectations, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was left bruised in a distant second place with just three seats.
The Congress, reeling from a string of defeats since it was routed in the Lok Sabha polls, drew an ignominious blank.
The AAP’s win set up a second stint for Arvind Kejriwal as chief minister almost a year after he had quit the post in controversial circumstances after failing to push through an anti-graft law. In an ironic twist, the 46-year-old former tax officer-turned-politician was set to be sworn-in exactly a year after he resigned.
The BJP, which has gone from strength to strength in successive state elections, was left licking its wounds in the city from which it rules the country. Former police official Kiran Bedi, who was roped in by the party at the last minute to take on Kejriwal, was defeated in the BJP’s stronghold of Krishna Nagar.
An exuberant Kejriwal described the AAP’s comprehensive success as a “people’s victory”. Even before the counting of votes ended, Prime Minister Modi tweeted he had congratulated Kejriwal and assured him of “complete support in the development of Delhi”.
“This is the people’s victory. My first priority will be to end ‘rishvatkhori’ (corruption),” said a beaming Kejriwal, who will be eager to set aside memories of his hasty resignation after just 49 days in office during his first stint.
Kejriwal, who founded the AAP two years ago after a high-profile anti-corruption campaign in which he worked closely with Bedi, described himself as an “ordinary man” and said: “I promise to be the janta’s chief minister and end corruption and VIP culture.”
The AAP’s victory is significant as it will lead to the formation of the first majority government in Delhi by a party other than the BJP and the Congress. It is also the first time any party has won so many seats in the assembly.
Bedi, meanwhile, said: “Wish to thank my party leadership for having trusted me fully and apologise to every karayakarta for not living up to their expectations.”
Ajay Maken, who was the Congress’ campaign committee chief, resigned from his party position after the rout – the latest in a string of electoral drubbings for the grand old party following its resounding defeat in last year’s general election. “I have decided to tender my resignation from the post of AICC general secretary,” he said.
Reports suggested the AAP made gains in as many as 39 seats when compared to the 2013 polls. The BJP, on the other hand, fell by the wayside in 29 seats it had won in the last elections.
Vote shares collated by the Election Commission showed the BJP fared poorly despite getting roughly the same number of votes as in the 2013 assembly polls. At the same time, the AAP’s gain was clearly at the expense of the Congress.
Counting of votes began at 8am and the AAP raced to a clear lead within an hour.
After the Capital voted in assembly elections for the second time in 14 months, exit polls had predicted on Saturday the AAP was set to return to power, an outcome likely to have national ramifications.
The closely fought election saw a record turnout of 67.10% and 8.9 million of the city’s 13.3 million-strong electorate cast their votes.
The 2013 elections had produced a hung assembly, and the AAP (with 28 MLAs) formed a government with the outside support of eight Congress legislators.
The AAP rode to victory on promises of cheaper electricity and water, and probity in government. The party also has a strident position against Delhi’s famed culture of privilege; in its last stint, one of its more popular moves was the outlawing of red beacons on official cars.
Its culture of handouts runs counter to the ruling principles of the BJP at the Centre, which espouses a market-friendly approach and wants to cut subsidies. Stock markets, which had fallen sharply on Monday after investors took fright from the exit polls, recovered in early trade as people chose to look ahead to this month’s union Budget.
The BJP’s decision to project Bedi as its chief ministerial candidate, after her surprise induction days ahead of the polls, too proved counter-productive as it triggered dissent within the party.
The saffron party’s prospects were also affected by the controversial actions of several right-wing leaders, including calls for Hindu women to have four children and a ‘ghar wapsi’ campaign to convert minorities like Christians and Muslims.
Kejriwal, who saw just four of his 400-odd party candidates registering a win in the Lok Sabha elections, campaigned hard and reiterated he would not commit the same mistakes again if he was given a second chance by voters.
The defeat for the BJP in the national capital will harm Modi’s chances of consolidating power in Parliament, where his reform agenda is being thwarted.
Modi needs to win most of the state elections over the next four years to gain control of both Houses of Parliament to deliver on his promise of jobs and economic growth.
The BJP has, however, said the results in Delhi were not a referendum on Modi. “It’s not a referendum on the BJP government. It will be a collective responsibility of the party…and winning will just be the first step for AAP. They had made many promises. AAP kaam karke dikhaye ab (AAP, now show us what you can do),” said BJP leader Shazia Ilmi.
One year after resignation, Kejriwal to take oath on Feb 14
NEW DELHI, FEBRUAYR 10
Exactly an year after he had resigned as Delhi Chief Minister, AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal will be taking oath as the CM again on February 14 at Ramlila Maidan.
“Arvind Kejriwal will take oath as the Delhi Chief Minister on February 14 at Ramlila Maidan,” AAP leader Ashutosh said after the party’s landslide victory in the Delhi Assembly polls.
Kejriwal emerged victorious in the high-profile New Delhi constituency by handing over a crushing defeat to BJP’s Nupur Sharma by a huge margin of 31,583 votes.
After AAP had thrown a surprise by uprooting Congress out of power in 2013 Assembly elections as a debutant party, Kejriwal had taken oath as Delhi’s seventh Chief Minister on December 28 at a public ceremony in the historic Ramlila Maidan, the venue of the Lokpal movement. He had defeated the three-time Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dixit on her home-turf by a margin of 25,864 votes.
However, after serving the government for 49 days, he had resigned on February 14 last year after his push for the anti-corruption Jan Lokpal Bill was blocked in the state Assembly by BJP and Congress.
Bedi ‘apologises’ for not living up to party’s expectations
A crestfallen BJP chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi, who herself suffered a shocking defeat from party’s traditional bastion Krishna Nagar, today sought forgiveness from the party and workers for not living up to their expectations.
“I got all the respect and confidence of the top leaders including Narendra Modi and Amit Shah as well as ordinary party workers. But I ask for their forgiveness as I failed to to carry that confidence and responsibility,” Bedi told reporters after BJP’s massive defeat in Assembly elections.
“This is the first time I felt like this in my entire career as a police officer. I have never had to face such a situation,” she added.
Denying that the election result was a referendum on Modi government, she said, “The Prime Minister (Modi) was not the chief ministerial candidate”. She also took to micro-blogging site Twitter saying she “gave it all” and the party will reflect on the cause of the defeat.
“Wish to thank my party leadership for having trusted me fully and apologise to every karayakarta for not living up to their expectations,” she said in a tweet.
The former IPS officer said that BJP will introspect and analyse the defeat. “I lose only when I do not give my 100% to the cause. I gave it all. My party & we will reflect on the causes of defeat! Best wishes for Delhi (sic),” she said in another tweet. Bedi also congratulated Arvind Kejriwal on AAP’s spectacular victory and expressed hope that they will fulfil the promises made to Delhiites.
Jubilant Arvind Kejriwal meets Lt. Governor of Delhi
New Delhi, February 10
AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal Tuesday met Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung to convey that he had been elected leader of the legislature party, an official statement said.
Kejriwal met Jung soon after his election as the leader of legislature party following AAP’s landslide victory in the Delhi election. Jung is expected to send his report to the President Pranab Mukherjee for revocation of President’s Rule in Delhi.
A release from the Jung’s office said that Kejriwal “conveyed that he has been elected as the leader of the Delhi Aam Aadmi Party legislature party.”
“The lt. governor will now send his report, with his recommendation, to the president of India,” the release added.
Delhi has been under President’s Rule for almost a year following resignation of 49-day old AAP government headed by Kejriwal last February.
Kejriwal to meet Narendra Modi, Rajnath Wednesday
AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, whose party won a landslide victory in the Delhi assembly elections, is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh Wednesday, a party leader said.
“Kejriwal is meeting Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh tomorrow (Wednesday),” Aam Admi Party (AAP) leader Manish Sisodia told IANS.
The former chief minister and his party reclaimed Delhi with a resounding sweep of 67 seats in a 70-member assembly Tuesday. The Bharatiya Janata Party opened its account with three seats while the Congress secured zero.
In a congratulatory tweet to Keriwal, Modi said: “Spoke to @ArvindKejriwal and congratulated him on the win. Assured him Centre’s complete support in the development of Delhi.”
The 46-year-old Kejriwal will take oath as chief minister at the Ramlila grounds on Feb 14 – the same date last year that Kejrwial resigned as chief minister, ending his 49-day stint heading the Delhi government.