A smart combination of social benefit schemes and freebies has successfully delivered the bulk of Delhi’s voters to Arvind Kejriwal in the Assembly polls held on Saturday.
According to the IANS-C-Voter Exit Poll released immediately after the polling ended, by specifically focusing on women, backward classes, minorities and people below the poverty line, the Aam Admi Party (AAP) cornered 50.6 per cent of votes polled for the 70-member Delhi Legislative Assembly.
The exit poll findings predicted a comfortable victory for the ruling AAP, which looks set to return to power after its shock win in 2015.
But what is even more interesting is that AAP has scored consistently among 11 major demographics.
As expected, women voters did not let down the AAP, which pampered them with welfare schemes such as free bus rides.
By the end of polling on Saturday, 50.6 per cent of women voted for AAP as compared to 36.2 per cent for its nearest rival BJP. Even among women voters, 51.6 per cent of housewives voted for AAP.
Apart from the freebies, polarisation over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has also apparently helped mobilise Muslim votes in favour of AAP.
As much as 61 per cent of Muslims voted for the ruling party, leaving the traditional choice, the Congress, with just 14.5 per cent — lower than the BJP which managed to attract 18.9 per cent of votes from the minority community.
AAP also scored well with the youth segment of Delhi voters, with 52.2 per cent of voters in the 18-22 age group voting for the party
The results of Delhi Assembly polls will be announced on February 11.
As part of its poll promises, the AAP has offered a number of freebies to the people of Delhi. Schemes like free power, WiFi, free bus rides for women and a host of other initiatives in the health and education sectors have endeared the party led by Arvind Kejriwal to the people of Delhi.
In 2015, the AAP had won 67 seats while the BJP bagged the remaining 3 seats.
The two Assembly seats, among 15, where the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) replaced its sitting MLAs were among the constituencies that recorded the highest and lowest turnouts this time.
While Matia Mahal recorded 68.36 per cent votes, the highest among the 70 constituencies, the turnout was lowest in the Delhi Cantt seat at 39.52 per cent.
In Matia Mahal, the AAP named former Congressman Shoaib Iqbal, a five-time MLA (1993, 1998, 2003, 2008 and 2013) representing different parties. He joined the AAP in January. He had lost the seat to Asim Ahmed Khan (AAP) in 2015.
In the Delhi Cantonment constituency, the AAP replaced Surinder Singh, who had won the seat in 2015 with 51.82 per cent votes, by former Air Force Sergeant and advocate Virender Singh Kadian, who had been with the party since the beginning.
In Timarpur, the turnout was 51.17 per cent. The AAP had replaced Pankaj Pushkar, who won the seat receiving 51.05 per cent votes, by unsuccessful 2019 Lok Sabha candidate Dilip Pandey.
Similarly, in Bawana, the party preferred Jai Bhagwan Upkar, a former BSP councillor who joined the AAP in January, over Ram Chander who had won the seat with 45.39 per cent votes. This time, the seat witnessed 41.95 per cent turnout.
In Mundka, the AAP went with Dharampal Lakra, a former Congress MLA who joined the AAP in 2014. It dropped Sukhbir Dalal, who had won the seat with 57.22 per cent votes. The seat recorded 59.24 per cent turnout, this time.
In Patel Nagar, Dalit activist Raj Kumar Anand, who rejoined the AAP in July 2019 after quitting it during the 2015 Assembly elections, replaced Hazari Lal Chauhan, who won the seat with 59.05 per cent votes. Over 55.84 per cent voters came out to polling booths on Saturday.
In Hari Nagar constituency, Rajkumari Dhillon, a former Congress councillor who joined the AAP in January, was favoured over sitting MLA Jagdeep Singh. The turnout was 57.35 per cent, this time.
The Dwarka Assembly seat witnessed 58.79 per cent turnout, where the AAP decided to go with Vinay Kumar Mishra, a former Congress leader and son of ex-Congress MP Mahabal Mishra, who joined the party in January.
The AAP sitting MLA Adarsh Shastri, grandson of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, shifted to the Congress, which promptly fielded him from the seat won by him with 59.08 per cent votes in 2015.
In Rajinder Nagar, Raghav Chadha replaced Vijender Garg who had won the seat with 54.39 per cent votes. The turnout here was 55.44 per cent this time.
To accommodate unsuccessful 2019 Lok Sabha candidate Atishi, who had been involved with the AAP’s education reforms, the party dropped Avtar Singh who had won the Kalkaji seat with 51.72 per cent votes. The turnout this time was 53.82 per cent.
In the Badarpur seat, Ram Singh Netaji, a two-time Congress MLA from the area, was nominated by the AAP that he joined in January. He replaced sitting AAP legislator N.D. Sharma who had received 59.30 per cent votes in 2015. This time, the turnout was 53.99 per cent.
The Trilokpuri seat reported 55.78 per cent turnout. The AAP favoured Rohit Kumar Mehraulia, ward representative in the municipal commission, over Raju Dhingan who had won the seat with 58.62 per cent votes.
The AAP fielded another MCD winner from Kalyan Puri ward Kuldeep Kumar (Monu) in the Kondli seat by dropping Manoj Kumar who had won the seat with 50.66 per cent votes. The turnout this time was 60.84 per cent.
The turnout was also high at 60.63 per cent in Seelampur, where Abdul Rehman, also an MCD winner from East Delhi, was given the ticket by the AAP replacing Haji Ishraq who had won the seat with 51.26 per cent votes.
In Gokalpur, Surendra Kumar, a former BJP leader who joined the AAP in October 2019, replaced Fateh Singh who had won it with 48.71 per cent votes. The turnout this time was 61.93 per cent.
The voter turnout in the Delhi Assembly seats where the top AAP leaders were contesting saw a turnout surpassing the city’s overall percentage, with New Delhi constituency held by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal being an exception.
While the overall voter turnout was 60.24 per cent, New Delhi seat, where Kejriwal contested, saw only 51.64 per cent turnout.
However, the seats from where other senior Aam Aadmi Party leaders and Kejriwal’s ministers contested saw a turnout of over 60 per cent.
Patparganj Assembly seat, from where Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia contested, saw a turnout of 61.28 per cent, while the Baburpur seat from where Labour and Employment Minister Gopal Rai was in the fray saw a turnout of 65.40 per cent.
Najafgarh, where Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot was contesting, saw a turnout of 64.38 per cent, while the voting percentage in Water and Culture Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam’s constituency Seemapuri was 68.08 per cent.
AAP national spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj was contesting from the Greater Kailash Assembly seat where the turnout was 65.20 per cent.
Counting of votes will be held on February 11. (IANS)