New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party retained the city’s Bawana Assembly constituency today with a comfortable majority, leaping way ahead of the Congress and the BJP, as it staged a remarkable comeback from back-to-back electoral defeats in the recent past.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led party’s candidate Ram Chander garnered 59,886 votes in the bypoll, salvaging some pride the AAP had lost in the civic polls and the Punjab and Goa elections before that.
The BJP, which had fielded AAP turncoat Ved Parkash as its candidate, finished a distant second with 35,834 votes, while the Congress’s Surender Kumar, a three-time former MLA from Bawana, trailed closely behind with 31,919 votes.
Eight candidates, including three Independents, were in the fray for the high-stakes bypoll which was held on August 23. The bypoll was necessitated after Ved Parkash resigned from the Assembly and the AAP, to join the BJP.
The turnout was a meagre 45 per cent.
In the final tally, NOTA was after the three main contenders, with 1,413 people opting for the ‘none of the above’ category.
Bawana is one of the largest constituencies of Delhi with over 2.94 lakh electorates.
Situated on the northern periphery of the city, it is a mix of slum clusters, villages and has a huge Poorvanchali (migrants from eastern Uttar Pradsh and Bihar) voter base, factors that may have proved favourable for the AAP.
Of the total 1,31,950 votes polled, the AAP cornered 45.4 per cent, BJP 27.2 and Congress 24.2 per cent.
The result has come as a morale booster for the AAP, which with this victory, broke a chain of defeats it had suffered in the last few months.
In the civic polls held in Delhi in April, the AAP was steamrolled by the BJP, days after it had received a drubbing in the Rajouri Garden Assembly bypoll. And, before that it was handed defeat in Punjanb and Goa state elections.
For the BJP, the loss comes barely four months into its total domination in the municipal polls and a sweep of the Rajouri Garden bypoll.
The Congress’s hopes to regain some lost ground in its erstwhile turf were dashed as it was reduced to the third spot, despite leading in the initial phases of counting.
The party’s candidate was leading the tally till the initial few rounds before the AAP overtook both it and the BJP after the eighth round of counting.
However, the Congress continued to retain the second spot thereafter, behind the AAP for a long time, before the BJP edged past it after the eighteenth round. But, from the 18th round, the AAP’s candidate just surged ahead, finishing at the top of the tally, with a margin of 24,052 votes against the BJP rival.
The counting, which was held at a college in Alipur in north-west Delhi, began at 8 am. A total of 28 rounds were held for the exercise carried out by the office of the Delhi Chief Electoral Officer.
Electronic voting machines equipped with VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) were used in all polling stations for the first time in this constituency.