New Delhi: The BJP is likely to repeat its 2014 success in Delhi in the keenly contested and much-discussed battle for its seven seats, with the News18 IPSOS exit poll predicting a sweep for the BJP. The survey predicted 6-7 seats for the BJP, with the Congress possibly winning one and AAP drawing a blank.
On the other hand, ABP Nielsen, while still predicting a win for the BJP with five seats, predicted a single seat each for the Congress and the AAP.
India Today Axis predicted 6-7 seats for the BJP, Congress with 0-1 and none for AAP. Times Now CNX predicted six seats for the BJP and one for the Congress, while Chanakya News24 predicted a clean sweep for the BJP with 7 seats.
The electoral results of the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi will have widespread implications not just for the capital, but also the fate of the Congress and the Aam Admi Party (AAP), which uprooted the grand old party in 2013.
Although the BJP won all seven seats in the city in the 2014 elections, completely bulldozing the challenge put up by the Congress and AAP, it was decimated by the latter in the 2015 assembly polls. The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP won an unprecedented 67 out of 70 seats in the House that election.
Despite their bitter past, the AAP this time was keen to forge an alliance with the Congress. The logic: that the combined support of the Dalit and Muslim voters in Delhi, spread across four of the seven seats, would ensure a certain BJP loss. But talks didn’t pan out and a section of Congress leaders admitted that this would not aid them in the long term.
The lead up to the polls had not been without drama, with allegations and counter-allegations flying, and it had all the trappings of a soap opera that could give the daily shows a run for their money.
From Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal being slapped to AAP's East Delhi candidate Atishi breaking down at a press conference over "derogatory pamphlets" to BJP's Udit Raj leaving the party and joining the Congress after being denied a ticket from North West Delhi, the two months preceding the elections kept everyone on their toes.
The seven seats had 164 candidates battling it out, of which 18 are women. BJP's incumbent MP Manoj Tiwari was up against former CM and Congress leader Sheila Dikshit for the North East Delhi seat. Other prominent candidates in the race included AAP’s Atishi, Olympian boxer Vijender Singh, who made his electoral debut from South Delhi, Union minister Harsh Vardhan from Chandni Chowk, and cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir.
While the BJP's campaign revolved around the party's high-pitched nationalism narrative and the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress kept him in the cross hairs and sought to hard sell its minimum income guarantee scheme, Nyay. The AAP, on the other hand, focussed on the demand for full statehood for Delhi.
Candidates also tried to out-maneuver each other before the poll body. AAP candidates Atishi and Raghav Chadha sought rejection of nomination papers of their BJP rivals Gautam Gambhir and Ramesh Bidhuri, respectively. In a security breach, Kejriwal was slapped by a man during a road show in Moti Nagar and allegations of horse trading flew thick and fast as two AAP MLAs, Anil Bajpai and Devinder Sehrawat, crossed over to the BJP.
The campaigning also saw South Delhi BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri allegedly using a Hindi slur against Kejriwal. On the penultimate day, the AAP and the BJP sparred over a derogatory pamphlet that targeted Atishi. The AAP alleged her rival Gautam Gambhir was behind it, a charge vehemently denied by him.