With MCD polls win, AAP's excuses of being hamstrung will lose sting

Niraj Sharma
05 Dec 2022
With MCD polls win, AAP's excuses of being hamstrung will lose sting

Arvind Kejriwal's roadshow for MCD polls

New Delhi: All exit polls are unanimous and on expected lines as far as the fate of the Municipal Council of Delhi (MCD) is concerned and if exit polls turn out to be true it seems the people of Delhi have decided to put more responsibility on the shoulders of Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

With local bodies and city government under the AAP control, the expectations too are going to skyrocket from the Kejriwal-led outfit in the national capital but here is the catch - if these expectations are not fulfilled, AAP may have to face consequences in 2025 assembly elections in Delhi.

Most of the exit polls have given AAP around 150 seats in a house with a total strength of 250.

That AAP was the top contender to capture the civic centre was being discussed in the national capital for a very long because of the anti-incumbency of 15 years for which BJP ruled the local bodies here.

BJP won the civic elections in 2007, 2012 and 2017. In between the MCD was trifurcated in 2012 and merged again this year with a reduced number of wards in the newly created unified body. AAP wasn't in existence in 2012 and in 2017, it didn't do well by getting only 48 seats out of a total of 272 with around 26 per cent vote share.

Delhi has been a bit divided when it comes to deciding who to vote for in local bodies, assembly and Lok Sabha elections. AAP emerged as the single largest party in the 2013 assembly elections but could not manage to get a single Lok Sabha seat out of the seven in the national capital. But its fortunes changed when it got 67 out of 70 assembly seats in the 2015 elections but performed again poorly in the 2017 local bodies elections and two years later in the 2019 general elections where it again drew a blank. But the party was back to its best in the 2020 assembly elections and almost repeated the 2015 performance.

AAP was expected to perform better in the MCD elections which were originally planned in March and the tenure of the earlier house ended in May but the centre moved to unify the three local bodies into one again which led to the delay.

The wards were restructured too and all this resulted in the political fight between the BJP and AAP. AAP accused the BJP, which rules at the centre, of deliberately delaying the elections as it was expected to perform badly. But then suddenly the election date was announced which coincided with the second phase of polling in Gujarat where AAP was putting up a spirited fight against the BJP which is ruling there for the last 27 years.

Political observers pointed out that it wasn't a mere coincidence that MCD polling happened on the same day when Gujarat went for the second phase of voting. They asked whether it was done to divide the attention of AAP leadership which was campaigning almost non-stop in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They also asked whether the BJP has sacrificed the MCD for the bigger prize - returning to power again in Gujarat. Well, the jury is still out in this regard.

AAP is going claim victory if it manages to open an account in Gujarat with a respectable vote share and captures the MCD.

But if AAP doesn't perform up to the huge expectations of the people of Delhi in the MCD, then the 2025 assembly election will turn tight for it. So far, the AAP government here has repeatedly claimed that it was hamstrung due to the civic bodies and the centre being under the BJP. But now if the civic centre falls in its lap, the claim of being hamstrung will somewhat lose its sting. Therefore it would have to perform or risk perishing in 2025. And the 2024 general elections will give us a broad hint in this regard. But as of now, if AAP wins the MCD polls it can be safely assumed that Delhi still remains beholden to the Kejriwal phenomenon.

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