The Aam Aadmi Party that swept the last Assembly election in Delhi wrested the Municipal Corporation of Delhi too from the Bharatiya Janata Party. But the BJP managed to hold ground, proving the exit polls wrong.
- The exit polls had predicted the BJP would be getting only about 60 wards, but it managed to win 104 seats.
- The Municipal Corporation is the second largest in India and has a budget only second to the Mumbai municipal body.
- The Congress has been literally decimated for it won less than 10 - 9 - seats in the 250-ward corporation. A set of Muslim pockets saved it from being entirely wiped out.
- AAP won 134 seats and wrested control of the MCD from BJP.
What next? The elected corporators will elect the next Delhi mayor, the first mayor for a unified municipal body. The state of Delhi had 3 municipal corporations before the three were merged back into one.
- The Lieutenant Governor can nominate 12 members and it can be safely said the 12 nominated ones will side with the BJP.
- To have its own mayor, the AAP needed to win at least 140 seats but fell short of it. AAP has clear majority and would definitely push for its mayor.
How did the AAP not touch the predicted score of 150-plus wards? There are multiple factors.
- Prime Minister Modi remains the mandate magnet. Though this was too local an election, a lot of Delhi residents vote in the name of Modi. Political pundits say the substantial retention of the vote share is mostly because of the BJP symbol and popularity of Narendra Modi.
- AAP is a formidable force in Delhi and is here to stay. The popularity of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his welfare policies retain their profound impact on the electorate.
- AAP, which now rules Punjab in addition to Delhi, has cemented its image as the party that delivers on free electricity, free water and other populist promises.
- The rising inflation and income contraction in the post-Covid era is largely blamed on the Union government led by Narendra Modi. The urban voter does feel the pinch of high commodity prices, especially that of fuels and transports.
- The BJP's stature stands greatly reduced because it barely has any presence in the Delhi Assembly. The strong 15-year anti-incumbency and the messy civic situation made matters worse.
- The BJP, expected to lose badly, did better than the projections because it managed to dent the honest governance image of the AAP by making corruption an issue, especially with a minister in jail and another under the scanner.
- BJP even got chief ministers of distant states to campaign in the municipal election at a time when AAP's top leadership had to stay focused on Gujarat, because the polls were timed as such.
- The BJP also managed to influence voters about the liquor policy of the AAP government and not only over graft. Women voters in poorer areas were convinced that easy availability of cheap booze was making their men go astray.
- Satyendar Jain, Arvind Kejriwal's close aid and minister, has been in jail for a hawala case.
- Manish Sisodia, the virtual number 2 in the Delhi government, is being investigated but has stayed clear so far.
- All 3 wards in Jain's Assembly constituency and 3 out of 4 in Sisodia's constituency were won by the BJP.
- With AAP maintaining its lead over the juggernaut called BJP in Delhi, ruling in Punjab with a massive majority, giving the BJP a tough fight in Gujarat, the 10-year-old party is emerging as a national player. If Gujarat results are as post-poll surveys suggest, AAP will be a national party, the third to do so.
- The Aam Aadmi Party will look at other states where BJP and Congress are in a direct fight to look at replacing the Congress as the BJP's rival party.
- That means Haryana, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. It did fight Uttarakhand and Himachal in the same way but their performance has been abysmal. But a vote share in Gujarat will boost its confidence in spreading its wings wider.
The bigger picture: Unlike the Assembly where it has a brute majority of 67 to 3, the Aam Aadmi Party will have a real opposition in the municipal corporation with the BJP being a 3-digit rival.