The BJP, which exit polls predicted to suffer a massive defeat, put up a spirited fight, winning 83 wards and leading in 19, as its leaders hoped for a reversal of trends. According to figures available at 12.30 pm, the AAP has won 104 seats and was ahead in 31, totalling up to 135. The MCD has 250 wards, and the simple majority mark is 126. The Congress on the other hand was lagging far behind, winning just five seats and leading in as many others. Independent candidate Shakeela Begum has won the Seelampur seat in northeast Delhi. Two other Independents are also leading in their leading seats. AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh said the barely 10-year-old party has ”defeated” the largest party of the country (BJP) in their stronghold. ”The results have once again proved the AAP is a hardcore honest party.” Singh also said the results were remarkable considering the BJP had gone all guns blazing, deploying all top leaders, including 17 central ministers, for election campaign. AAP convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had earlier said his party would win 230 wards. For the AAP, a clear victory in the MCD elections will be yet another example of its sway over Delhi.
Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta said, ”Despite 15 years of anti-incumbency, our performance is better. We worked for the people of Delhi at the municipal corporations but may be some people were not happy. There was no anger against the BJP though.” The counting of votes began at 8 am, and initial trends (at 9:30 am) put the BJP ahead of the AAP by a significant margin, but the pendulum swung in the AAP’s favour as the counting progressed. This was the first election after the MCD was reunified earlier this year.
In 2017, the BJP had clinched 181 of the then 270 municipal wards while AAP had won only 48 and the Congress finished third with 30.
AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj exuded confidence his party will emerge victorious.
”We will win more than 180 seats. We have decked up our office… The BJP did not cite any achievement of their 15-year tenure in the MCD during the campaigning,” he told the media at the party office.
BJP’s national spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla said the exit polls got it completely wrong. ”Even after 15 years of the BJP rule, the party has retained its vote share on the basis of its work. People should avoid premature celebrations,” he told reporters.
Delhi BJP vice-president Virendra Sachdeva said it is going to be a tough contest.
”However, we will prove the exit polls wrong and the BJP will come to power in the MCD for a fourth consecutive term,” he told PTI.
The mood at the AAP office here was celebratory with loudspeakers blaring patriotic songs and the entire premises decked up with colourful balloons. AAP workers, nervous but hopeful, had their eyes glued to LED screens throwing the latest counting trends. They are also keeping a tab on social media and some of them were seen constantly tweeting as the final touches were being given to the office for celebrating what could be the party’s first victory in municipal polls here.
”AAP hi aayegi MCD mein is baar humko bharosa hai (We are confident the AAP will win this MCD poll),” said a party worker blowing blue and yellow balloons at the office.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is expected to address people after the results. The high-stakes election to the 250 wards of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was held on December 4, sealing the electoral fate of 1,349 candidates in voting machines. A voter turnout of 50.48 per cent was registered in the elections.
The results of this election, largely touted as a three-cornered contest among a spirited AAP, a confident BJP and a hopeful Congress, may have ramifications beyond the national capital.