New Delhi: The exit polls for the three Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCD) have predicted the worst for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which came to power in the national capital in 2015 with a thumping majority.
A win in the MCD is important for the AAP, led by national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, as it is being seen as a litmus test for the party.
“We have to keep Delhi clean and remove corruption from the corporations. Our message has reached the people. Each day is a referendum for the AAP," senior AAP leader and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said on Sunday.
However, leaders in the party point out that it is important to wait for the final results of the civic polls which will be declared on Wednesday.
The civic polls come after the failure of AAP’s plan to expand its base beyond Delhi in the recent assembly polls. The party failed to secure a single seat in the Goa assembly but managed to win 20 in the 117-seat Punjab assembly.
Earlier this month, the party failed to retain its seat in the Rajouri Garden bypoll, with its candidate Harjeet Singh coming in third.
“The two polls are very different. The civic polls have been fought on local issues. AAP’s performance in the bypoll will not affect the civic polls," a senior AAP leader said on conditions of anonymity.
According to two exit polls, the civic bodies could see the BJP return to power in the MCD for the third consecutive time. The India Today-Axis exit poll predicted a sweep for the BJP with 202 to 220 seats. According to India Today-Axis, the AAP and the Congress will secure around 23-35 and 19-31 seats, respectively. CVoter-ABP also predicted a BJP sweep Delhi with 218 seats, limiting the AAP and the Congress to fewer than 25 seats each.
“Seems people’s disillusionment with the AAP government is far stronger than their disapproval of BJP-led MCD," Yogendra Yadav, president of Swaraj India, which broke away from AAP, said on Twitter.
“Seems people’s disillusionment with AAP government far stronger than their disapproval of BJP-led MCD," Yogendra Yadav, president of Swaraj India, which also contested these civic polls, said on Twitter.
Analyst say that a loss will raise questions on the future of the party.
“While we can let go of the recent assembly elections, it is difficult to rule out the by-poll because it happened in Delhi. A loss in the civic polls will see a huge mandate being squandered. While we have to wait for poll results, a loss in the civic poll could put the party and Kejriwal in a soup," Praveen Rai, political analyst at the New Delhi based Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).
He added, “There are 20 MLAs already being questioned for an office of profit case. There may be a large section of MLAs who would want to switch after the loss."
This was the first time that the MCD poll saw a three-cornered fight with the AAP contesting elections in all the seats for the first time. The BJP has been in majority in the three civic bodies since 2007. There are 272 seats in the three bodies—North Delhi Municipal Corporation, South Delhi Municipal Corporation and East Delhi Municipal Corporation.
On Sunday, polling was held in 270 of the 272 seats in the civic bodies. In two seats, polling was postponed due to the death of candidates.
PTI contributed to the story