BJP candidate and former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir has taken a major lead over his nearest competitor Arvinder Singh Lovely of the Congress. Gambhir was sitting pretty with 98,870 votes at 11.30 am, Lovely had 48,881. The much-discussed Atishi of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is a poor third with 34,435 votes at 11.30 am.
At the fag-end of her campaign, Atishi had held a press conference and accused Gambhir of distributing pamphlets with derogatory language against her. That line of attack against Gambhir is apparently not working.
Delhi East is a BJP stronghold. As long back as in 1967, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh had won the constituency in the first election held to the seat. The total number of voters in the constituency is approximately 16 lakh. In 2014, the BJP's Mahesh Girri won from here with 5,72,202 votes. Interestingly, the most popular leader from the region has been BJP's Lal Bihari Tiwari. Sheila Dikshit lost to him in 1998 and it was only after his death that the Congress made inroads into East Delhi. The BJP waited for AAP to field its candidates and launched Gambhir to counter Atishi. The strategy seems to be working.
Sources within the Congress had earlier told Firstpost that AAP wanted an alliance in Delhi, Punjab and Haryana, but Bhupinder Singh Hooda, veteran Congress leader, was dead against the idea. Had the new party stuck to Delhi and not been in a hurry to expand, it could have avoided the splitting of votes with the Congress " something that has benefited the BJP. AAP declared its last candidate Balbir Singh Jakhar from West Delhi, when the chances of an alliance seemed bleak.
Aside from the West Delhi Seat, AAP was willing to offer Pankaj Gupta's Chandni Chowk seat. AAP candidates are now trailing from all seats. From South Delhi, Raghav Chaddha is coming second to the BJP's Ramesh Bidhuri, with a difference of nearly 50,000 votes between them. In the most hotly-contested seat of North East Delhi, AAP's Dilip Pandey is coming in third with just over 30,000 votes as BJP's Manoj Tiwari has crossed the one-and-a-half lakh mark and Dikshit has a little over 60,000 votes. AAP's ambition of becoming a national party and engaging with other Opposition parties to form an alternative government have been dashed.