New Delhi: Even after more than doubling its seat tally to seven, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faced a crushing defeat in the Delhi Assembly elections. Soon after the writing on the wall became evident on Tuesday, several BJP leaders said it was the Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) promises of freebies, and not governance policies, that attracted voters.
BJP’s Shakur Basti candidate SC Vats said, “Providing air conditioners, laptops and printers to Resident Welfare Association (RWAs) and a large amount of freebies to people by AAP a few months before the elections to attract voters was the major factor that adversely affected the vote share.”
Vats, pitted against AAP’s Satyendra Jain, lost by a margin of around 8,000 votes.
“I didn't see Satyendra Jain as a strong competitor. However, AAP’s schemes of providing freebies a few months before the elections changed the whole scenario,” he said.
The AAP-led Delhi government provided free electricity up to 200 units, 20,000 litres of free water, and free bus rides to women.
After results of the elections started showing an insurmountable lead for the AAP, Haryana Cabinet Minister Anil Vij made a similar statement on Twitter, saying, “Dilli ke chunav me mudde harr gaye, muftkhori jeet gayi (In Delhi Assembly elections, issues lost, freebies won).”
दिल्ली के चुनाव में मुद्दे हार गए, मुफ्तखोरी जीत गई । — ANIL VIJ MINISTER HARYANA (@anilvijminister) February 11, 2020
BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya in Indore also claimed that the "freebies" led to the AAP's massive victory.
"The issue was about freebies. Kejriwal will say from where the issue of development came into the elections? Freebies announced, especially during the last six months, in Delhi have had an impact on these elections," he said.
Questioned on if the BJP's defeat also stemmed from the party not projecting a chief ministerial candidate, Vijayvargiya said it was a matter of discussion, adding, "We have formed governments even in the states where we had not declared a CM face during the poll campaign. We have formed governments in Haryana and Tripura."
Vijayvargiya said the BJP would brainstorm on the poll defeat in the national capital though he claimed the party's performance this time was "very good" when compared to 2015. The BJP had bagged three Assembly seats five years ago.
The AAP is most likely to win 62 seats according to trends late on Tuesday night. But the ruling party saw a slight dip in its vote share, from 53.57% of the votes counted till 10pm. In the last Assembly elections, it had bagged 54.5% of the votes.
The elections marked the continuing decline of the Congress in Delhi where it was in power from 1998 to 2013. The party had won 4.26% of the votes till 10pm, down from the paltry 9% it secured in 2015.
(With inputs from PTI)