Shift in campaigning strategy led to AAP's reversal of fortunes
To maintain a balance between governance and party work, Kejriwal kept away of lashing at BJP.
NEW DELHI: The much-awaited result of the Bawana by-election on Monday ended with a clean sweep for Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Admi Party (AAP).
As the party supporters danced to the tune of 'Panch saal Kejriwal' in front of the Chief Minister's house, Kejriwal called it a win for "honesty and hard work." Senior AAP leaders declared it a victory of "good governeance in Delhi in the last two-and-half years."
The Bharatiya Janata Party, however, said it will analyse the defeat and claimed the result to 'unexpected'.
The Congress, for which the Bawana bypoll was a golden opportunity to enter the Delhi Assembly finished third, as its candidate failed to garner any votes in last 10 to 15 rounds of counting.
AAP candidate Ram Chander won the Bawana bypoll by a huge margin of 24,052 votes, by securing 59,886 votes.
BJP's Ved Prakash, who was the previous MLA last time around, finished second with 35,834 votes.
Congress' Surendra Kumar was placed third with 31,919 votes.
In the early rounds of counting, Kumar had taken an early lead over his rivals. However, Chander surpassed him by the end of the eighth round. The Congress candidate did again take a slight lead after the eleventh round, but Ram Chander soon caught up to him.
After the 20th round of counting, celebrations started at AAP's office and the party decided to shift the gathering to the CM's residence.
Clad in coloured clothes, supporters from various parts of the city reached his residence. As the final result came out, people began dancing to the drumbeat. Party leaders distributed sweets, as Kejriwal came out to meet the supporters.
The Bawana victory comes as a major relief to AAP, after defeats in the Delhi civic polls and Assembly elections in Punjab and Goa.
To maintain a balance between governance and party work, Kejriwal notably adopted the strategy of keeping himself away of lashing the BJP. Campaigning was mostly handled by senior leader and Cabinet minister Gopal Rai, while Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia looked after the government.
Just before the bypoll, Kejriwal took charge of campaigning, along with the SC/ST Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam.
"People of Delhi are with us; this is a victory for honesty," Kejriwal said on Monday. The AAP national convenor said that "our work impressed citizens and this win has been a big booster for the party workers."
Hitting out at the BJP, the Chief Minister said: "The tactics of provoking our leaders failed. Only one person (Ved Prakash) responded to them and people showed them the consequences."
Adding to Kejriwal's statement, Gopal Rai said, "BJP should stay away of spreading rumours and trying to disrupt the governance." Talking about the party's presence in Bawana, he said, "We had become zero there after the civic polls. But continuous efforts of our supporters brought us this victory."
Reacting to the result, the Congress said that its vote share had increased this time, while that of both AAP and BJP took a fall.
Delhi Pradesh Congress spokesperson Sharmishtha Mukherjee asserted: "In the 2015 Assembly elections, the AAP candidate had polled 1,09,259 votes to have a vote share of 57.91 per cent. This time, AAP's candidate could poll only 59,886 votes, as its vote share came down to 45.43 per cent—a 50 per cent dip in the votes."
Meanwhile, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari took the responsibility of the defeat, saying: "We made every possible effort to snatch it, but could not succeed. We will look into the issues and take corrective measures. We should learn from our failures and we will certainly take it as a lesson."