The stunning victory of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Delhi assembly elections has established a young party, born out of the Anna Hazare movement as recently as 2012, firmly in the nation’s capital. As a result, AAP has become the latest regional party to thwart the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the state-level, further weakening the Congress.

Though AAP has not matched its near clean sweep of 2015, it has come remarkably close by winning 62 seats of the 70 on offer.

These consecutive successes have essentially wiped out the Congress—which had enjoyed three consecutive terms under Sheila Dikshit—in the state.

In the past two elections, the Congress not only failed, but failed spectacularly.

In 2015, it failed to win a single seat and lost deposits (seats where a party fails to win one-sixth of all the votes cast) in 62 of the 70 seats it contested.

In these elections, it again failed to win any seat and is set to lose its deposits in 67 seats.

The party’s vote share—24.6% in 2013—dropped to 9.7% in 2015 and collapsed to 4.3% in these elections.

(Graphic: Ahmed Raza Khan/Mint)
(Graphic: Ahmed Raza Khan/Mint)

The Congress’s fall has also been the BJP’s gain.

The BJP’s vote share in these elections is set to increase by 5 percentage points to 38%, but this has not dented AAP’s tally. The BJP’s inability to find a state-level leader to take on Arvind Kejriwal continues to hurt it: from Harshvardhan in 2013 to Kiran Bedi in 2015 and now Manoj Tewari in 2020, all have failed. The BJP, however, did make a few gains in the northern (Rohini) and eastern (Laxmi Nagar and Gandhi Nagar) parts of the city.

(Graphic: Ahmed Raza Khan/Mint)
(Graphic: Ahmed Raza Khan/Mint)

Tellingly, the BJP also failed to win a single seat in the 12 constituencies reserved for the Scheduled Castes. In these seats, AAP picked up 57% of the votes while the BJP lagged over 20 percentage points behind.

The overall verdict may seem similar to the last election, but the seat-level contests have been vastly different. In 2015, 53 of 70 seats were won with a margin of more than 15% and all by AAP. In 2020, this number has come down to 29, with 28 won by AAP and one by the BJP. Close contests, where the victory margin was less than 5%, doubled from 6 to 11, but AAP still won nine of these.

In 2015, AAP won 53 seats with a margin of more than 15%. In 2020, this number is down to 29, with 28 won by AAP (Graphic: Ahmed Raza Khan/Mint)
In 2015, AAP won 53 seats with a margin of more than 15%. In 2020, this number is down to 29, with 28 won by AAP (Graphic: Ahmed Raza Khan/Mint)

One such close contest was in Patparganj, where deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia scraped a narrow victory after trailing for much of the day.

Atishi, too, survived a scare in Kalkaji. She had lost her Lok Sabha campaign to former cricketer Gautam Gambhir, but managed to pull through and, in the end, won comfortably with a victory margin greater than 10%.

In Okhla, home to the Shaheen Bagh protest and a focal point of these elections, AAP’s Amanatullah Khan registered the second-highest vote share of 72.49%. In the seats that AAP did lose, it secured, on average, 4% fewer votes than in 2015. In two seats it secured significantly fewer votes—Karawal Nagar (19%) and Ghonda (9%).

(Graphic: Ahmed Raza Khan/Mint)
(Graphic: Ahmed Raza Khan/Mint)

The BJP might be tempted to dismiss the election results as unimportant, given Delhi’s size and its overwhelming success in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections (in which it swept all seven seats). However, its current streak of losing state elections should have its leadership concerned.

Its national tally of MLAs has shrunk by 27 since May 2019, and it has lost power in Maharashtra and Jharkhand. In all these elections, the BJP has campaigned heavily on nationalism. But in these states, and now in Delhi, local issues seem to have trumped national issues for voters.

With the coming state elections in Bihar and West Bengal (in 2021), the BJP may need to change its strategy. is a database and search engine for public data.

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