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Monday, December 09, 2013

Delhi: Congress out, BJP in as AAP makes dream debut

New Delhi, Dec 8 -- The Congress Sunday was headed for a humiliating defeat in Delhi, with the BJP emerging as the single largest party. But it was debutant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that put up a spectacular show in the battle for the 70-member assembly that presides over the fortunes of the capital.

As it became clear that the Congress has been relegated to the third position, it was the fight for the numero uno position between the BJP and AAP. At one time, it looked as though AAP would emerge as the single largest party before the BJP nosed ahead. 
The most stunning defeat was of Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit who was trounced by 25,000 votes by AAP founder Arvind Kejriwal from the New Delhi constituency. 
Conceding defeat, Dikshit submitted her resignation to Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung, who dissolved the legislative assembly and forwarded her resignation to President Pranab Mukherjee.
"I would like to thank everyone for their support. We will analyse what went wrong later," a sombre-looking Dikshit told reporters outside her house while declining to take questions. 
She also acknowledged that her party had failed to gauge the popularity of the AAP, saying the party had behaved "foolishly" in misjudging them. 
A shaken Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and party general secretary Rahul also expressed shock at the results.
"In Delhi, a great deal of work was done (by the government). But the results tell us something else. We will introspect and take steps to rectify it," Sonia Gandhi said.
Kejriwal, who had claimed that he would defeat the three-time chief minister, got 44,269 votes, while Dikshit received 18,405 votes. BJP’s Vijendra Gupta stood at third position with 17,952 votes.
Result trends at 5 p.m., showed BJP was leading in 33 constituencies, the AAP was ahead in 27 seats and the Congress in 8. 
In fact, three cabinet ministers are trailing while four have won.
It was however the phenomenal success of AAP, which came into existence as a political party only last year, that surprised both the ruling Congress and the BJP. 
After his victory, Kejriwal said : “This isn't my victory. It's a victory of people of New Delhi constituency and victory of democracy." He was addressing hundreds of his supporters who were waving the “broom” - the election symbol of the party - at the party’s Hanuman Road headquarter in Connaught Place. 
The BJP admitted Sunday that the AAP's stunning performance in Delhi elections was "surprising" but maintained that it would form a government.
"We always thought of AAP as competition and we were expecting it to get double digit seats, but this is surprising," BJP state president Vijay Goel told the media.
"We have done all the hard work in Delhi (as an opposition) in the last 15 years but now AAP is reaping the benefits," he added.
The Congress, which has governed Delhi since 1998 with Dikshit at its helm, was stunned. Some supporters, who were still hopeful despite trends showing a Congress drubbing held prayers at Dikshit's residence for a miracle. Some even brought sweets in the morning, but were shooed away.
Congress leader Rajiv Shukla said: "AAP cut on our votes and caused damage. A lot of votes have gone to AAP, that is why we are losing in Delhi."
However, he quickly added: "These results have no bearing on the Lok Sabha elections."
Party sources and election officials said that Congress candidates were headed for defeat even in known party strongholds.
While there was an atmosphere of gloom at Dikshit's 3, Moti Lal Nehru residence, it was time for celebrations at BJP chief ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan's residence.
Supporters burst firecrackers and distributed sweets outside Vardhan's Krishna Nagar residence in east Delhi. 
The activists of AAP, a product of the anti-corruption campaign of Anna Hazare, also celebrated noisily outside many counting centres and its party office in Connaught Place.
The party activists, very visible in their white side caps, waved flags, raised slogans across the national capital celebrating the unexpected success.
Many of them waved spiky brooms in the air to express their joy and happiness. 
Anna Hazare, once a mentor of Kejriwal who fell out with him over the latter's political ambitions, also praised Kejriwal.
"Defeating Sheila Dikshit is not an easy thing. People gave their mandate," he said.
"I believe that Arvind Kejriwal will do good work in the opposition and will provide right direction to the government," he told reporters from Ralegan Siddhi, his home town in Maharashtra.

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