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Kejriwal’s party wins record 67 seats; Modi tastes first poll defeat
New Delhi: In one of the most stunning comebacks in Indian political history, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party on Tuesday scored a landslide victory in Delhi, delivering to the BJP its first defeat since its historic Lok Sabha triumph and reducing the Congress to a virtual nonentity.
Tens of thousands of jubilant AAP activists celebrated across the capital and in many other cities as the 27-month-old party grabbed a sensational 67 of the 70 seats in the Delhi assembly, leaving just three seats to the BJP – the highest ever victory margin for any party in Delhi.
Although Delhi accounts for only 70 of the 4,120 assembly seats in the country, the AAP’s spectacular showing had its predictable fallout, with opposition parties and even BJP ally Shiv Sena taking potshots at Modi.
The win gave the AAP, India’s youngest political outfit, 96 per cent of seats in a legislature – another record – and a new lease of life after it was written off following its earlier turbulent 49-day stint in Delhi and the later humiliating rout in the 2014 Lok Sabha battle.
So stunning and sweeping was Tuesday’s victory in what was supposed to be a tough election with Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself leading the BJP’s charge that many AAP leaders and workers who had slogged for months broke into tears.
Kejriwal had teary eyes as AAP colleagues repeatedly hugged him and lifted him in the air, and congratulatory messages poured in from all over the country thick and fast.
Outside his home, thousands kept chanting the party’s catchy line: Paanch Saal, Kejriwal!
The Congress simply sank, with its chief campaigner Ajay Maken resigning as the party’s general secretary after he finished third in his Sadar Bazar constituency. Most Congress candidates lost by huge margins, one by 95,000 votes.
The BJP suffered far more humiliation, with its chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi, who had been personally picked by Modi, losing to a little known advocate of the AAP.
Two of the three BJP winners scraped through by just 5-6,000 votes in contrast to the giant margins scored by AAP candidates.
With the BJP subdued, Modi, who led an aggressive campaign against Kejriwal and called him a ‘Naxalite’ (Maoist) who should be banished to the forests, congratulated the AAP leader and offered his government’s full cooperation.
The AAP said Kejriwal will take oath as Delhi’s chief minister on Saturday, exactly a year after he resigned.
“This is incredible. We can’t believe it,” AAP leader and former Delhi minister Manish Sisodia said. Senior AAP leader Yogendra Yadav called it a victory of proverbial David over Goliath.
In remarks directed at Modi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had asked people in Delhi to vote for the AAP, said it was a “big defeat for the arrogant and those spreading hate”.
Bedi, whose induction as the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate caused fissures in the party, said: “I have not lost. Let the BJP assess why they lost. I gave my very best.” (IANS)