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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  AAP shakes up political order in Delhi assembly elections

AAP shakes up political order in Delhi assembly elections

Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party is set to become the second largest party in the Delhi assembly

Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP has won 28 seats so far in the Delhi elections. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/ MintPremium
Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP has won 28 seats so far in the Delhi elections. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/ Mint

New Delhi: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal won the New Delhi assembly constituency by over 25,000 votes against three-time Delhi chief minister and Congress leader Sheila Dikshit, underlining the party’s spectacular success in its maiden attempt at contesting elections.

Going by the latest trends in the Delhi assembly elections, Kejriwal-led AAP is likely to emerge as the second-largest party in Delhi assembly after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). According to the results announced so far, the Aam Aadmi Party has won 28 seats, the BJP has won 31, while the Congress has bagged 8.

Kejriwal got 44,269 votes in the New Delhi constituency, while Dikshit could only manage 18,405 votes. BJP’s Vijender Gupta was not far behind the former chief minister, with 17,952 votes.

In a press conference, Kejriwal announced that AAP will not participate in a coalition to form the next Delhi government, but will sit in the opposition.

“These are historic results. This is not a victory of Aam Admi Party, it is a victory of the people," the bureaucrat-turned-politician said amid loud cheers by his supporters at the party’s crowded Hanuman Road office.

BJP said AAP’s rise in Delhi is a matter of concern for it as much as for Congress and maintained that it could have won clear majority had it not been a three-cornered fight.

“In Delhi, space has been given to a local outfit—Aam Aadmi Party. There could be other reasons. BJP failed to position a chief ministerial candidate at the right time. The national channels also projected that national parties are unable to deliver. But BJP should be able to form government," he said.

Industry leaders also took note of AAP’s spectacular performance in its political debut.

“AAP’s dramatic debut shows we want desperately to be idealistic & not cynical.That honesty isn’t just the best policy but the best politics," Anand Mahindra, chairman and managing director of the Mahindra Group said on Twitter.

Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw tweeted that AAP and Arvind Kejriwal have walked the talk on clean politics and tasted success as a result.

AAP’s first victory came through Veena Anand in the Patel Nagar constituency in Delhi, opening the fledgling party’s account in the national capital. Former NSG commando Surender Singh, who was severely injured during 26/11 Mumbai attack while flushing out militants from Taj hotel, emerged victorious in political field also as today he won from Delhi Cantt seat on AAP ticket. Surender defeated BJP’s Karan Singh Tanwar by a margin of 355 votes. He was left hearing impaired after a grenade explosion during rescue operation at Taj Hotel. He plunged into politics after retiring from active service.

Other victorious AAP candidates included Ashok Kumar from Ambedkar Nagar, Saurabh Bharadwaj from Greater Kailash, Akhilesh Pati Tripathi from Model Town and Jagdeep Singh from Hari Nagar. However, Shazia Ilmi Malik lost by a narrow margin to BJP’s Anil Kumar Sharma in the R.K. Puram constituency.

Hundreds of AAP members danced wildly in the street outside the party’s Delhi office while holding up brooms—the party’s symbol, alluding to its top platform promise to sweep corruption out of the ruling class.

Aam Aadmi only fielded candidates in New Delhi but the results will increase expectations that it will run nationwide when the country holds its general election, by next May at the latest. The performance in Delhi will be crucial to AAP’s plans to expand to other parts of the country, including Maharashtra.

While some had suggested that Kejriwal should fight from a so-called safe seat, several AAP leaders and workers have maintained since early summer that Kejriwal had to take the fight to Dikshit in the New Delhi assembly seat to keep the spirits of his supporters high.

Dikshit has been elected from New Delhi constituency, called Gole Market prior to delimitation in 2008, three times in a row. In the 2008 election, she defeated BJP’s Vijay Jolly by a margin of 18.35% of the total valid votes in the constituency.

The party was an off-shoot of an anti-corruption movement led by veteran social activist Anna Hazare, who also belongs to Maharashtra.

Kejriwal and his one-year-old party have by no means had an easy ride. He was nearly isolated after his mentor, social activist Anna Hazare, parted ways with him over Kejriwal’s decision to enter politics. But he kept his flock together and led AAP from one goalpost to another before its poll debut .

“Agar rajneeti gandi hai toh isko haath gande kar ke hi saaf kar sakte hain (if politics is dirty, you can only clean it up by dirtying your hands)," was his standard response to any question about the motivation behind his entry into politics.

From targeting the two main political parties, the Congress and BJP, he turned to attacking corporate interests with audacious exposes of alleged wrongdoing. His targets included Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra, India’s biggest builder DLF Ltd, BJP president Nitin Gadkari and Reliance Industries Ltd chairman Mukesh Ambani.

With AAP having made innovative use of social media in its campaign, the Twitter handle and Facebook pages of the party and its supporters were active on counting day.

Exit polls have shown that BJP has an edge in Delhi even as some predicted a hung assembly.

AP, AFP and PTI contributed to this story.

Note: This story has been modified from its original version to reflect the name of the AAP candidate that won from Patel Nagar.

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Published: 08 Dec 2013, 09:20 AM IST
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