In a major setback to the ruling Congress party in national capital Delhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the Subhash Nagar municipal by-election on July 25. BJP candidate Smt Meira Kanwaria defeated the Congress candidate Seema Luthra by a convincing margin of 5,175 votes. Polling for the seat was held on July 23.
The by-election was necessitated after the Supreme Court declared null and void the election of Congress councillor Sunita Bharati for producing a fake Scheduled Caste certificate. The complaint was filed by Smt. Kanwaria. The Subhash Nagar ward is reserved for Scheduled Caste woman candidate. Smt Kanwaria, who had lost the last election in 2002 by a margin of 1000 votes, polled 16,721 votes this time and Smt Seema Luthra managed 11,096 votes of the total of 27,878 votes polled.
The outcome of the by-election has left the Congress MLAs and Councillors worried, especially as the municipal elections are due early next year and assembly elections will be held in 2008. With the election outcome a blame game has also begun within the Congress as the supporters of DPCC president Rambabu Sharma blamed the loss on the Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit for her anti-people policies. They also blamed for long power cuts. Delhi Mayor Farhad Suri said the Congress need to look inwards where it has not lived up to the expectations of the people. On the other hand Rambabu Sharma described the defeat of his candidate as ?a serious matter? and said the issues of power; water, sewer and price rise had certainly played an important role in turning the votes? mood in favour of the BJP.
The low turnout of voters, about 45 per cent, was attributed to public disenchantment and resentment over the poor power and water distribution system. However, the BJP candidate'smargin of victory in such a low turnout is being termed as a serious development for the ruling Congress. The Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly, Prof. Jagdish Mukhi, was quick to demand resignation of the Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. He also sought dissolution of the Congress ruled Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) as the people have lost faith in it and have passed their verdict against corruption and inefficient Congress government.
BJP state president Dr Harsh Vardhan while talking to Organiser said the election verdict showed that people were totally fed up with the Congress and its anti-people policies. He said the Subhash Nagar result had indicated that mis-governance would not be tolerated by the people of Delhi. Shri Subhash Arya, Leader of Opposition in MCD, demanded fresh elections of the civic body. Terming the victory of BJP candidate as a clear-cut referendum against Congress misrule, he said the Congress has no more moral right to continue in power as it has lost the faith of the people. He said the Congress failed to save houses of people from its own bulldozers. People are also lamenting the miserable state of civic amenities across the city and the water logging of roads during rains has exposed the incompetence of the civic body in cleaning drains. He said the Congress-ruled civic body had also goofed up in implementation of the new property tax regime that has led to the MCD suffering huge revenue loss.