The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) registered a huge victory in the Rajouri Garden Assembly bypoll in the national capital on Thursday handing a humiliating defeat to the ruling Aam Aadmi Party, which finished a distant third and even lost deposit.
The seat fell vacant early this year after AAP's Jarnail Singh quit as MLA to contest the Punjab Assembly poll against SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal.
The BJP-SAD's candidate Manjinder Singh Sirsa received 40,602 votes while Congress's candidate Meenakshi Chandela secured second place with 25,950 votes and AAP's Harjeet Singh managed to get only 10,243 votes, less than one-sixth of the total votes polled, and lost deposit.
BJP-SAD joint candidate Manjinder Singh has got over 50 per cent of the total votes polled, in a boost for the saffron party ahead of the April 23 municipal polls.
The bypoll was held on April 9 and around 47 per cent of the over 1.6 lakh electors of the west Delhi seat had cast their vote. The 47% voter turnout was very low compared to previous elections in Rajouri Garden seat.
Rajouri Garden seat had witnessed 72% voter turnout in 2015 assembly elections. It was 68% in 2013 assembly elections.
With the victory, the BJP's tally in the 70-member Delhi Assembly will become four. The Congress does not have any presence in the House.
Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari on Thursday took a jibet at Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and said he should now understand that it is not EVM but people who give verdict in a democracy.
"It is a day when people have strongly rejected a fascist Tughlaqi rule under Kejriwal," Tiwari said.
The BJP leaders are celebrating party's victory in Delhi's Rajouri Garden and hoping the party will win register huge victory due to the 'Modi wave'.
On the other hand, the bypoll, which is being seen as a precursor to the MCD polls scheduled for April 23, came as a blow for AAP which could only get 10,000 votes securing a distant third position. The AAP candidate secured only 14% the votes polled and lost deposit.
'Humiliating defeat for AAP'
Let's have a look at the comparison of vote percentage received by leading parties in Delhi's Rajouri Garden seat to get a clear picture of voting pattern.
In the April bypoll in Rajouri Garden, BJP-SAD joint candidate Manjinder Singh Sirsa bagged 40,602 votes, over 50 per cent of the total votes polled.
Rajouri Garden: 2017 Bypoll
BJP: 40,602 votes (52%)
Congress: 25,950 votes (33.2%)
AAP: 10,243 votes (13.1%)
Rajouri Garden: 2015 Assembly elections
AAP: 54,916 votes (Jarnail Singh)
BJP: 44880 (Manjinder Singh Sirsa)
Rajouri Garden: 2013 Assembly elections
BJP: 41,721 (Manjinder Singh Sirsa)
Congress: 30,717 (Dhanwati Chandela)
It's a fact that the BJP has won the Rajouri Garden seat, but the data shows the saffron party has received less votes in comparison with 2015 assembly elections. The BJP didn't even cross the number of votes it had got in 2013 assembly polls.
However, the BJP's local leadership deserves praise for securing 52% vores in the assembly bypoll when the total poll percentage was just 47% in April 9 voting and when the party was not in power in the state.
The Congress party is back in the battle, but it didn't cross it 2013 vote figures. Congress' Meenakshi Chandela received 25,950 votes in the bypoll. The party had got 30,717 votes in 2013 assembly elections.
For AAP, the defeat in Rajouri Garden is huge and the party will have to seriously think about its revival as Delhi is set to vote again to elect Municipal corporations on April 23.
After humiliating defeat in Goa and Punjab assembly elections, AAP started focusing more on local issues in Delhi and Delhi Chief Minister even promised to waive off House tax if it's voted to power in MCD polls.
AAP's defeat in Rajouri Garden, where its candidate Harjeet Singh lost deposit as he received just 13.1% votes, is very big and humiliating loss because on the same seat the party had got 54,916 votes in 2015 Assembly elections.
The AAP lost 44,673 votes in just two years in Rajouri Garden area where 47 per cent of the over 1.6 lakh electors of the west Delhi seat had cast their vote on April 9. The party had received 54,916 votes in 2015 polls, and got 10,243 in 2017 bypoll.
'Honest introspect needed'
AAP member Jarnail Singh, who quit as Rajouri Garden MLA to contest the Punjab assembly polls, has said the party needs to conduct an honest introspect on its drubbing in the by-election.
"Win or loss is part of the electoral politics, but the party needs a deep and honest introspection. Party fights collectively and win or loss is a collective responsibility," he said.
He, however, declined to elaborate on his remarks.
His comments came after Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday acknowledged that people were upset with the AAP over Singh quitting to contest against Shiromani Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal in the Punjab assembly elections.
Singh, sources said, is also unhappy over how the party functioned in Punjab during the state assembly polls. The AAP was expected to fare well but it could get just 20 seats.
'AAP will be finished in 2 years'
Meanwhile, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said the BJP-SAD combine has demolished the AAP on its home turf and added that the loss heralded the end of the party as a political entity.
In a statement here, Sukhbir said the Rajouri Garden result was a "referendum" on the policies of AAP in Delhi and had set the tone for the complete defeat of the party in the forthcoming elections to the Delhi municipal corporation.
He also said the most pertinent factor was that AAP candidate Harjit Singh lost his security deposit.
"Former AAP MLA from Rajouri Garden, Jarnail Singh, who resigned from this seat to contest election from Lambi constituency in Punjab, had earlier won this seat by a margin of 10,000 votes. As Rajouri Garden is a Sikh-dominated seat, the severe erosion in AAP's vote share is a clear indication of the party's current popularity among the Sikh community," Sukhbir added.
Congratulating Sirsa, he said all the dreams of the Aam Aadmi Party to expand to other states, including Gujarat, were quashed now.
"AAP, as a political entity, will be finished in the next two years," he claimed.
Most of the AAP leaders haven't made any remarks after party's humiliating defeat, but party's senior leader Dr. Kumar Vishwas has posted one tweet, which is not directly linked to the poll defeat.
पानी आँख में भर कर लाया जा सकता है,— Dr Kumar Vishvas (@DrKumarVishwas) April 13, 2017
अब भी जलता शहर बचाया जा सकता है (अब्बास ताबिश)
Rajouri Garden is an upscale market and a posh residential colony in West Delhi. The constituency falls under the West Delhi Parliamentary constituency. The place is inhabited mostly by Punjabis who migrated to Delhi after the Partition. The seat was a Congress stronghold during 1993-2008. But in 2013 Delhi Assembly elections, Majinder Singh Sirsa of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) came out victorious defeating Congress candidate by more than 10,000 votes. (With inputs from PTI)