Delhi: A test for the AAP-Congress alliance

The AAP has been sweeping Assembly elections in the national capital territory since 2015. Will June 4 mark a difference?

Published : Jun 03, 2024 12:10 IST - 3 MINS READ

A shop keeper displaying pictures of Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal in New Delhi on March 18, 2019.

A shop keeper displaying pictures of Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal in New Delhi on March 18, 2019. | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

When the votes are counted for Lok Sabha election in Delhi on Tuesday, the outcome will also decide the efficacy of the alliance between two rival parties: the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress.

Delhi witnessed a voter turnout of over 58 per cent on May 25. In 2019, the capital had seen a 60.52 per cent turnout. The AAP had come to power in Delhi after defeating the Congress, riding on the wave of the ‘India Against Corruption’ movement led by Anna Hazare. The AAP has been sweeping Assembly elections in the national capital territory since 2015. In 2022, the AAP won the Municipal Corporation of Delhi election, ending BJP’s 15-year hold on the civic body.

The AAP and the Congress contested the election on a 3-4 seat-sharing arrangement and the alliance has expressed confidence on the basis of their combined share of votes.

Also Read | Delhi battleground: How AAP-Congress alliance takes on BJP amid Kejriwal’s arrest saga

Though the BJP had won all the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi in 2014 and 2019 general elections, it had its last Chief Minister in Delhi over 25 years ago. After Sahib Singh Verma, BJP experimented with Sushma Swaraj, Harsh Vardhan, Kiran Bedi and Manoj Tiwari, but failed to make the desired impact.

In this general election, the BJP had to replace six of its incumbent MPs, including Ramesh Bidhuri (South Delhi), Meenakshi Lekhi (New Delhi), Parvesh Sahib Singh (West Delhi) and Harsh Vardhan (Chandni Chowk) possibly due to their disconnect with the voters and an undercurrent of anti-incumbency.

BJP looks for a credible candidate

The BJP has been vying to win the Delhi Assembly election scheduled for February 2025. But after Sahib Singh Verma, who served as Delhi Chief Minister from 1996 to 1998, it is yet to find a credible candidate for the post. Therefore, the stakes are high for the two-time Lok Sabha MP from North-East Delhi, Manoj Tiwari, the Bhojpuri actor and singer-turned-politician and Delhi BJP chief.

One of the most keenly watched constituencies in the national capital territory is North-East Delhi. The seat has seen a fierce contest between Tiwari and Kanhaiya Kumar, the Congress candidate and former JNU student union president, who contested the 2019 Lok Sabha election as a Communist Party of India candidate for the first time but lost to BJP leader Giriraj Singh in Bihar’s Begusarai constituency.

While North-East Delhi saw the highest turnout at 58.30 per cent, the lowest turnout was 51.54 per cent in New Delhi.

New Delhi is another key constituency that has become a focal point. In this seat, BJP’s Bansuri Swaraj (former External Affairs Minister and late BJP leader Sushma Swaraj’s daughter) contested against AAP’s Somnath Bharti. Bansuri Swaraj had replaced Lekhi, Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture.

In the Chandni Chowk seat, Congress candidate J.P. Aggarwal is giving a tough fight to BJP’s Praveen Khandelwal. The seat was represented by former Congress leader and Union Minister Kapil Sibal, who won it in the 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha elections before losing it to BJP leader Harsh Vardhan in 2014. The former Union Minister and sitting BJP MP, Vardhan quit politics after the BJP denied him the ticket in this election.

Also Read | Alliance of convenience: AAP, Cong seal deal for Delhi, to go solo in Punjab

After voting ended in Delhi on May 25, the AAP rubbished the predictions of exit polls, asserting that the INDIA bloc would win all seven seats, despite allegations of interference by the BJP. The AAP declared, “The recent arrest of the incumbent Chief Minister was the final straw... This arrest has incensed the people of Delhi.” On Sunday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal surrendered at the Tihar jail after 21 days of interim bail granted to him by the Supreme Court to campaign for Lok Sabha election.

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