NEW DELHI: A further decline in the prospects of Congress in Delhi, though not unexpected, seems to be powering AAP ‘s success, as has been predicted by various exit polls. Most polls forecast zero seats for Congress though one has given it four, with a vote share of 8.8%.
In 2019, Congress had a vote share of 9.8%. Psephologists don’t seem to believe that the party can match even that figure this time round. Unlike BJP, which mounted an aggressive campaign, the grand old party was largely missing in action. AAP claimed that a major chunk of late voting had gone in its favor even though BJP maintained that the reality was quite the opposite.
Congress ’loss is being seen as AAP’s gain, as any vote-split would have helped BJP make deeper inroads.
Sources said among a few constituencies where Congress ran a strong campaign were Kasturba Nagar, Gandhi Nagar, Seelampur, Mustafabad, Badli, Sultanpur Majra, Chandni Chowk, Hari Nagar, Dwarka, Kalkaji, Sangam Vihar and Kondli. However, with party bigwigs conspicuous by their absence for most of the campaigning, it was left for the candidates to fend for themselves. To their credit, many of them conducted door-to-door meetings and made extensive use of social media, besides holding small public meetings on their own, the sources added.
But for most parts, the campaign failed to generate a lot of excitement. While BJP and AAP ran high-octane campaigns, Congress adopted a laid-back approach, with not many senior party functionaries hitting the ground in support of its candidates. In the last week of electioneering, several star campaigners, including Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and ex-PM Manomohan Singh and chief ministers of Chhattisgarh and Punjab CM, did address public meetings, but it all appeared to be too little too too late.
“Congress doesn’t appear to be very strong this time. When it was in office in Delhi, the party carried out a lot of development work, ”said Hiten Sharma, a voter at Chanakyapuri. The party, too, chose to harp back on its past record, often invoking the tenure of three-time CM, the late Sheila Dikshit.
While some candidates blamed the delay in distribution of tickets for the lackadaisical approach, others claimed that there was a lack of coordination from the central office. A candidate, requesting anonymity, said that the party had failed to back the contestants on the ground. While the more resourceful candidates could still power their campaigns, the newcomers fought lone battles.
In contrast, sources in AAP said, the party had managed to project itself as an alternative to people who previously voted for Congress. “A large chunk of Congress voters shifted to AAP across various assembly segments. It will significantly increase our vote share and lead to the party breaking its own record of 823, ”claimed an AAP functionary. In 2019, AAP had won 70 of the 90 assembly seats.
Even though Congress failed to match the electioneering blitzkrieg of AAP and BJP, the chief of the party’s Delhi unit, Subhash Chopra, claimed they would surprise everyone with their performance when the results finally came out.
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