The Aam Aadmi Party won a resounding victory in the Delhi Assembly elections on Tuesday to get a third straight term. The party won 62 seats, just five fewer than in 2015, and saw a marginal decrease in its vote share to 53.57%. The Bharatiya Janata Party, the main challenger, won just eight seats, five better than its performance in 2015. However, the party’s vote share grew from 32% to 38.51%.

The Congress repeated its dismal performance from the 2015 elections, winning no seats at all. Its vote share fell further, sinking below 5%. As many as 63 Congress candidates lost their deposits, PTI reported.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is also the convenor of AAP, thanked the people of Delhi for the massive mandate. Kejriwal said people had voted for the politics of development.

“I love you,” Kejriwal said in a brief address to joyous supporters and party workers in the national Capital, according to PTI. “It is a victory of the people of Delhi who considered me their son...Lord Hanuman has blessed us. May God give us more strength to serve people of Delhi.” Kejriwal ended his speech with “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and “Inquilab Zindabad” slogans.

The Delhi chief minister also won his New Delhi seat by a comfortable margin, defeating BJP’s Sunil Kumar Yadav.

Kejriwal’s deputy and Patparganj candidate, Manish Sisodia, and Kalkaji candidate Atishi won from their constituencies despite trailing earlier in the day. “I am happy to become the MLA from Patparganj Assembly constituency again,” Sisodia told ANI. “BJP tried to do politics of hate but people of Delhi chose a government that works for the people.”

Sisodia added that the people of Delhi had explained the true meaning of nationalism, PTI reported. He faced a tough fight and was trailing behind BJP’s Ravinder Singh Negi in the early rounds. Atishi and the saffron party’s Dharambir Singh were also involved in a neck-and-neck contest.

The Election Commission declared AAP leader Raghav Chadha the winner from Rajinder Nagar by a margin of 20,058 votes. Meanwhile, AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan defeated his rival BJP candidate Braham Singh by more than 72,000 votes from Okhla. Shaheen Bagh, the epicentre of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests, falls in the Okhla constituency. The BJP had unleashed a vitriolic campaign against the protestors.

Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal dissolved the sixth Legislative Assembly on Tuesday. “A new order will be issued for the formation of the Seventh Legislative Assembly after the final results come,” an unidentified official told PTI.

A map of how Delhi voted in the 2015 and 2020 Assembly elections.
(Figures as of 8.30 pm)

How parties reacted

BJP National President Jagat Prakash Nadda conceded the election late in the afternoon. “We respect the mandate given by the people of Delhi,” Nadda tweeted in Hindi. He said the party will play the role of a responsible Opposition in the national Capital.

Delhi BJP President Manoj Tiwari too conceded defeat. “Thank you to all the voters of Delhi. Thank you to all the party workers for their hard work,” he tweeted in Hindi. “We respect the mandate of the people.” Tiwari had claimed in the morning that the BJP would win 55 seats.

In the evening, Tiwari told media persons that the BJP would evaluate its performance, ANI reported. He said the one positive for the saffron party was that its vote share had increased from 32% in 2015 to more than 38%. Tiwari congratulated Kejriwal, and said he hoped the chief minister would perform according to the expectations of the people.

BJP leader Tajinder Bagga, who contested from Hari Nagar, had accepted defeat earlier in the day and said the party respects the mandate. He congratulated the AAP, and thanked his constituency saying he will always stand for their rights.

“The two crore families of Delhi have now said that their son Arvind Kejriwal is not a terrorist but a staunch nationalist,” tweeted AAP leader Sanjay Singh. “I salute the people of Delhi for giving AAP such a massive mandate.” He was referring to BJP MP Parvesh Varma’s comment during the campaigns. Earlier in the day, Singh had said the party will register a massive victory in the Assembly polls.

The party’s MP from East Delhi Gautam Gambhir said the BJP accepted the results and congratulated Kejriwal. “We tried our best but, probably, we could not convince the people of the state,” he said. “I hope Delhi develops under the chief ministership of Arvind Kejriwal.”

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said everyone knew that Aam Aadmi Party would return to power for the third time. “Congress’s defeat will not send a good message,” he told ANI. “The victory of AAP against the Bharatiya Janata Party and its communal agenda is significant.”

Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar said the BJP tried to “polarise votes” but failed, PTI reported.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray called the results a victory of “Jan ki Baat” (people’s voice) over “Man Ki Baat” (a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monthly radio programme), PTI reported. “There is a [BJP-led central] government in Delhi with so called nationalistic views, which used the entire machinery and force in the Delhi Assembly polls but failed before the broom,” he said.

He added that the BJP called Kejriwal a terrorist and tried to bring in “international issues” instead of focusing on local problems.

Congratulations pour in for AAP

AAP workers in the city of Amritsar in Punjab started celebrating the poll results once it became apparent that the BJP had been swept away. The party’s Delhi headquarters was also decorated with balloons. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee congratulated Kejriwal even before the Election Commission officially declared victories.

“Congratulations Arvind Kejriwal as Delhi results show Aam Aadmi Party all set to win Delhi Election 2020 with a thumping majority yet again,” she tweeted. “Leaders playing on faith through hate speech and divisive politics should take a cue, as only those who deliver on their promises are rewarded.”

Banerjee mocked the BJP, saying it had been given a “befitting reply”. “The BJP tortured students and women in Delhi,” she alleged. “The party got a befitting reply in Delhi Assembly polls. It will face similar results in 2021 Assembly polls in Bengal. Only development initiatives will click.”

Political strategist Prashant Kishor tweeted: “Thank you Delhi for standing up to protect the soul of India!”

The contest

The elections were contested by 672 candidates – 593 men and 79 women.

The incumbent AAP faced the BJP as its main contender as the Congress remained a minor player. The ruling party relied on Kejriwal as its primary campaigner while Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah led the BJP’s campaign. The Congress did not seem to put up a strong fight during campaigns with its former President Rahul Gandhi and General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi addressing only a handful of rallies. Neither the BJP nor the Congress projected a chief ministerial face.

Sisodia and BJP leader Vijay Goel were separately seen offering prayers ahead of the results.

More than 1.47 crore people were eligible to vote in the Assembly elections. This included 2.33 lakh voters in 18-19 age group. On Saturday, 62.59% of the electorate turned up to cast their votes. However, the final voter turnout became a point of contention raised by the ruling AAP as the Election Commission released the official figure over 24 hours after voting ended on Saturday. The highest voter turnout of 71.6% was recorded in Ballimaran constituency, and the lowest was in the Delhi cantonment area, where it was 45.4%. The poll body said the turnout was two percentage points higher than in the Lok Sabha elections.

Exit polls

Most exit polls had predicted that the Aam Aadmi Party would comfortably sweep the elections to retain power. Both the BJP and the Congress said the exit polls were not exact, and preferred to wait and watch.

The Times Now-IPSOS survey predicted 44 seats for the AAP, and an improved performance from the BJP. The ABP News-C Voter said the ruling party in Delhi might win 49 to 63 seats while the saffron party might get between five to 19 seats.

The Republic TV- Jan Ki Baat survey gave the ruling party 48 to 61 seats, and the BJP between nine and 21 constituencies. The TV9 Bharatvarsh-Cicero poll’s forecast saw 54 seats for Kejriwal’s party, and 15 for the BJP. The India Today-Axis exit poll, which was the most accurate of the polls, said the AAP would win between 59 and 68 seats, while the BJP would secure two to 11 constituencies.