Delhi rejects Congress
Unbearable price rise and intolerable corruption swallowed the Congress in Delhi. People rejected the party in MCD elections held on April 15. The voters gave a kind of reality check to the party which rules both the Centre and the national capital. On the other hand the BJP swept all the three newly created municipalities—North, East and South. Though the BJP lost 26 seats as compared to the last MCD elections held in 2007 when it won 164 seats its vote percentage slightly increased from 36.17 per cent in 2007 to 36.71 per cent now.
Immediately after the initial trends started showing BJP ahead, the party workers started dancing tirelessly to the beating of drums and the party office wore a carnival look throughout the day. However, Delhi Congress office was a study in contrast with the few party workers gathered there appearing dejected and not quite in the mood to analyse the drubbing the party got in the polls. At Delhi state BJP office, the workers celebrated victory bursting fire crackers and throwing colours at each other. They were later joined by the elected candidates. Upbeat Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta said, “Our motive is not just limited to ensuring cleanliness and better roads for Delhi. We aim to guarantee transparent and scam-free MCD.”
During the election campaign, the Congress highlighted trifurcation of MCD as its biggest ‘positive step to improve civic amenities in Delhi’. But it did not help the party get any political advantage. Another notable fact is that one minister (Dr Ashok Walia) of Sheila Government lost all the four wards in his constituency, while three ministers (Dr Kiran Walia, Haroon Yusuf and Ramakant Goswami), lost three of the four wards. Not only this, senior leaders including Speaker Yoganand Shastri, Deputy Speaker Ambrish Gautam, Parliamentary Secretary Anil Bhardwaj lost three of the four wards. Former Minister Narendra Nath and former Speaker Ch Prem Singh lost all the four wards. There are 46 wards where the Congress candidates stood third to fifth and in 26 wards they lost even their deposit. Union Minister Ajay Makan lost 25 of the total 32 wards in his Lok Sabha Constituency. It is a shock to the Congress which has been ruling Delhi for 14 years and trifurcated the MCD in a clear bid to weaken the BJP hold.
In North Delhi Corporation, BJP romped home with 59 seats in the 104-member strong body while the Congress lagged behind at 29. The BSP won seven seats while RLD four, LJP one and independents four. The real shocker for the Congress came in its stronghold East Delhi Corporation where the BJP came up with an impressive victory, winning 35 out of 64 wards. The Congress was behind with 19 seats, INLD six, BSP three, SP one and independents three. In South Delhi Corporation, the BJP emerged victorious in 44 wards while the Congress bagged 30 seats. BSP bagged five, NCP six, INLD three, JD(U) one, RLD one and 14 independents. The Congress added 11 seats to its 2007 tally (from 64 to 78), but its fortunes received the biggest ever jolt in the city in the last couple of years.
The poll outcome is a huge disappointment particularly for CM Sheila Dikshit who had pushed hard to trifurcate the MCD despite stiff resistance from her own party leaders. Senior Congress leader Subhash Chopra, who had led a delegation to party president Sonia Gandhi in 2011 opposing split in the MCD, said the timing of the trifurcation was “totally wrong” which might have cost the party.
The defeat in East Delhi Corporation is particularly very disappointing for Smt Dikshit as the area is represented by her son Sandeep Dikshit in Lok Sabha. Besides eight prominent leaders of Congress, including two Ministers in Delhi Government are from East Delhi. Shocked over the poll outcome Sandeep Dikshit attributed the defeat to a ‘disconnect between the party and the people’ and BJP’s success in taking advantage of scams like 2G spectrum, price rise and anti-Congress agitation by Anna Hazare. Smt Dikshit, who initially refused to react on poll outcome, admitted on April 18 that ‘price rise and corruption cost her party dearly’. But she refused to own the responsibility of the defeat.
These MCD elections were seen as semi-final for the Assembly elections in Delhi scheduled to be held next year. The present landslide victory of BJP clearly shows that this anti-Congress mood may dominate the Assembly polls as well as the general elections to be held in 2014. Since Delhi is said the heart of India, the election results are also an indicator of the mood of the nation. The results have definitely boosted the morale and confidence of the BJP workers who will now work hard to emerge as a strong alternative to the Congress. There is very much possibility of BJP snatching Delhi Assembly from the Congress, if it does not repeat the mistakes it committed during the last assembly elections in 2008.
It's a clear referendum against Congress
Delhi BJP president Shri Vijender Gupta has demanded immediate dismissal of Congress Government of Delhi saying it lost all moral rights to continue in power. He said the election results are a clear referendum against Congress. Organiser spoke to him on the poll outcome. Excerpts:
How do you look at the poll outcome?
The results are clearly a mandate against the Congress misrule. Chief Minister Smt Sheila Dikshit should accept the moral responsibility of this defeat and resign immediately. She has lost all moral rights to rule Delhi. The vote for the BJP is a positive vote in favour of our good governance.
Do you say the poll outcome is referendum against Congress?
Yes. We have been saying from the very beginning that the MCD elections will prove to be plebiscite against Congress misrule, corruption, price rise and the anti-people policies of Congress government both at the Centre and the State. The way the voters of Delhi expressed their acrimony against Congress in all the three Corporations and elected BJP candidates with huge margins, our claim of referendum is proved to be true. These elections have shown the Congress the place it deserves.
Will you demand mid-term polls in Delhi?
Not only the people in Delhi but the people all over the country want mid-term polls. They don’t want to see Congress rule in any State or at the Centre. Therefore, respecting the sentiments of people, the President of India should advise the Congress Government to announce mid-term poll so that a democratic and honest Government may be elected.
Do you think the division of MCD went against Congress?
Yes, definitely. This decision was taken in a hurry and it failed to convince the people. They thought it illogical to trifurcate the MCD without increasing the number of wards. We have basically been in favour of reforms. That is why we did not oppose the trifurcation. But we feel the trifurcation could have been done in a better way. What the Congress did was to just harm the BJP.
How this poll outcome will affect the Assembly polls in Delhi?
The process to oust the Congress has begun and it will go to the Lok Sabha elections. The Congress days, both at the State and the Centre, are numbered. Majority of the Congress Ministers and senior leaders have failed to win their wards. It shows people have understood their reality and the Congress will not be able to befool the people any more.
But the number of seats of BJP has declined as compared to 2007. Why?
When one wins, such things do not matter. But we have taken it also very seriously. The number of seats might have declined but the victory margin of our candidates and our vote percentage have increased.
The presence of small parties like NCP, LJP, BSP, SP, RLD, INLD, etc has strengthened in Delhi. How do you look at it?
It is not the victory of any of these political parties. It is purely the victory of individual candidates. Majority of such candidates wanted a symbol, which they got from these parties. Otherwise everything was done by them individually.
How will you mange the shortage of nine seats in South Delhi?
Our talks with the independents and others are at final stage. They have agreed to support us.
How far the BJP rebels damaged the fortunes of the official candidates?
Not much. There was no rebel in East Delhi. In North too, there were only one or two rebels. The largest number of rebels was in South, where they damaged the official candidates to some extent.