The bypolls to five wards in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi have resulted in a wipeout for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) winning four and the Congress one.
The AAP has won from Kalyan Puri and Trilok Puri in the East Delhi Municipal Corporation and Rohini-C and Shalimar Bagh in the North Delhi Municipal Corporation.
The Congress has won from Chauhan Bangar in the East Delhi Municipal Corporation.
The bypolls were necessitated due to the death of BJP councillor from Shalimar Bagh and the resignation of AAP councillors in the remaining four wards.
There are three key aspects to the election results.
1. AAP's Dominance
AAP's influence doesn't seem to have reduced much since its victory in the 2020 Assembly Polls, in which it won 62 seats out of 70.
In fact, it can be pleased with its victory in Rohini-C, which falls under the Assembly constituency of Senior BJP leader Vijender Gupta – one of the few BJP candidates to win in the 2020 polls.
The AAP also notched up a healthy vote share of 46 percent in the five seats combined.
The result is significant because till now the AAP has been an underperformer in civic elections in Delhi. It faced a big defeat in the 2017 MCD polls, despite having a brute majority in the Assembly.
The bypoll results bode well for the party in the run-up to the MCD elections due in 2022.
It appears that the AAP's effort to project itself as the default party of local governance in Delhi is bearing fruit.
However, there was one major warning sign for the party – the result in Chauhan Bangar.
2. Muslims Send a Message in Chauhan Bangar
The Congress has won a massive victory in Chauhan Bangar ward, with over 70 percent of the votes and the AAP getting just about 20 percent.
Chauhan Bangar is a Muslim majority ward in northeast Delhi that witnessed communal violence in February 2020.
The result reflects AAP's falling popularity among Muslims, who had overwhelmingly voted for the party in the 2020 Assembly polls.
It appears that many Muslims in northeast Delhi feel that the AAP didn’t do enough to stop the violence and that its performance on relief and rehabilitation of those affected by the violence has been far from satisfactory.
In particular, this is a verdict against AAP MLA Abdul Rehman from Seelampur, who was the councillor from Chauhan Bangar.
While the Congress would justifiably be happy with the win in Chauhan Bangar, it has fallen below 15 percent votes in the other wards.
3. BJP's Defeat
The results would come as a big blow to the BJP. The defeats are only one aspect –what should really worry the party is that its vote share was just about 27 percent, which is lower than the 32-35 percent vote share the party has maintained in Delhi even at its worst moments.
It seems that many Delhi voters who vote enthusiastically for the BJP at the national level are more than willing to back the AAP at the local and state levels. This used to happen even when Sheila Dikshit was the chief minister and for Arvind Kejriwal in 2015 and 2020.
However, this has gone a step further with the floating BJP voters now being open to vote for the AAP even when Kejriwal is not on the ticket.
With the BJP facing a three-term anti-incumbency in the MCD, the AAP should fancy its chances of grabbing control of the three corporations in Delhi.