NEW DELHI: By polls are not always seen as trend indicators but when political parties pull out all the plugs for the one elections in a heated political environment then these often assume an extraordinary dimension. The Bawana by poll in Delhi was just one instance, where the contest became a political battle between BJP, Congress and the rather beleaguered Aam Aadmi Party to prove its hold on the national capital.

AAP won, leaving its closest rival BJP 24,000 votes behind. This is a sizeable defeat in an Assembly election. The Congress finished third. Although at a time before, and in the intitial stages of counting, both the Congress and BJP felt that they had left their common rival far behind.

Three reasons make Bawana important:

  • The combined might of the BJP and Congress have not managed to extinguish the AAP fire in Delhi’s belly. In that a constituency that was traditionally the BJP’s and the Congress and had embraced AAP in the last elections, decided to remain with the Aam Aadmi Party. And was not mesmerised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, or the full throated Congress campaign and decided to remain with the party that the media had joined the two larger parties in declaring “dead’. Or at least wounded.

  • The Congress has still not been accepted by Delhi as a contender. It was placed third, with the BJP remaining a distant second. Clearly the mood in Delhi is still anti-Congress with party president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi not being able to revive the party in the national capital. This is a trend that is visible in all states with the Congress moving from defeat to defeat.This despite the fact that if fielded a candidate who had won this constituency from 1998 till 2013 and then lost the seat to the BJP, and after that to the AAP. And this time again to the AAP.

  • The BJP, is not the first choice of Delhi voters yet. This despite the longstanding attack by it on the AAP government in Delhi, and the effort to block many of its pro-people schemes through legal and bureaucratic loopholes. The effort to convince the voters against AAP and more specifically Chief Minister Arvind Kejhriwal----whose campaign was unusually low key in these elections, but clearly paid off----has not worked, and Delhi voters still see the comman man’s party as an assert. This will make the BJP task difficult with the bypoll victory coming as a boost for the AAP camp. More so as the party focused entirely on PM Modi and Modi and not the local candidate, a defector from AAP.

This was important for AAP per se as after coming into power in 2015 the party has gone through a series of setbacks. It lost the Rajouri garden by poll, the MCD elections, the Punjab polls and by all accounts is reconsidering an earlier decision to contest the Gujarat elections. Also the bypoll was held because AAP Ved Prakash had quit the seat to join the BJP instead. Clearly defections do not win votes, and the people went with AAP instead.