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The Financial Express

Delhi polls: Kejriwal’s AAP surges ahead of Modi’s BJP

Published: February 11, 2020 11:53:37 | Updated: February 12, 2020 11:33:53


Arvind Kejriwal, chief of Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party (AAP), addresses his supporters after taking the oath as the new chief minister of Delhi during a swearing-in ceremony at Ramlila ground in New Delhi February 14, 2015. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee/Files Arvind Kejriwal, chief of Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party (AAP), addresses his supporters after taking the oath as the new chief minister of Delhi during a swearing-in ceremony at Ramlila ground in New Delhi February 14, 2015. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee/Files

Early trends show Delhi's governing Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) heading for a big win in the Indian capital.

The party is leading in more than two-thirds of the state's 70 seats.

Delhi voted on 8 February after an aggressive campaign that saw BJP heavyweights such as Home Minister Amit Shah take to the streets to woo voters.

But exit polls predicted a big win for AAP, led by charismatic politician Arvind Kejriwal, who has campaigned on education and healthcare.

The latest trends showed AAP leading in 53 seats, with India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead in 17.

But the BJP has refused to be ruled out just yet, reports the BBC.

"It's still early trends," BJP spokesperson Pratyush Kanth said, adding that his party still expected to win more than 30 seats when the final results were in.

Celebrations have begun outside the AAP office where party workers told BBC Hindi that it was a vindication of the fact that they chose to campaign hard on "governance and development", and refrain from "divisive politics".

Two-term chief minister Mr Kejriwal has been credited with turning around Delhi's government-run schools, establishing affordable neighbourhood clinics, and providing cheap water and electricity.

He has also consistently campaigned for greater autonomy for the state as control of its police force and land still rest with the federal government.

The BJP, on the other hand, centred its campaign on a peaceful protest in Shaheen Bagh - a largely Muslim neighbourhood - against India's controversial new citizenship law, known as the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The BJP painted the protesters - largely comprising thousands of Muslim women - as dangerous traitors, who wanted nothing less than the fragmentation of the country. And they alleged that AAP was supporting them.

Two MPs campaigning for BJP were removed from a list of "star campaigners" for their comments, which included telling supporters to "shoot the traitors".

"Polarisation is a tried and tested method that has won the BJP elections in the past. But the million dollar question is, will it also work in Delhi?" political commentator Neerja Chowdhury earlier told the BBC.

Despite the fact that AAP looks almost certain to retain power however, the BJP has made considerable gains since 2015, when AAP swept to victory with 67 seats. The BJP won the remaining three.

The Congress party, which won no seats in 2015, appears to have drawn a blank this time too.

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