Newcomer Aam Admi Party, born out of Anna Hazare's anti-corruption agitation, today created history by winning 28 seats in the 70-member Delhi Assembly election which saw BJP emerging as the single largest party and Congress suffering a rout with three-time Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit even losing her own seat.
It is a hung House with BJP winning 32 seats, falling short of the majority mark of 36 despite its ally Shiromani Akali Dal getting one seat. Reduced to number three position, Congress bagged a paltry eight seats as many senior ministers and heavyweights failed to retain their constituencies in the election that saw massive anti-incumbency wave.
One seat each was secured by Janata Dal (U) and Independent.
A visibly shaken Dikshit, who ruled Delhi for 15 years, sent her resignation to Lt Governor Najeeb Jung around noon as trends indicated a debacle from Congress in the hustings.
"We accept our defeat and we will analyse what went wrong. We respect what the people of Delhi have decided and thank them for supporting us for last 15 years," Dikshit told reporters at her residence during a brief appearance and even snapped when asked if her party failed to read the mood of the city.
"Bewakoof hain na (we are idiots, right?)", retorted Dikshit.
The three-time Chief Minister herself lost to Arvind Kejriwal by a huge margin of 25,864 votes in the New Delhi constituency in a shocking defeat.
A number of Congress heavy-weights including cabinet ministers lost in the election as AAP, born following the civil society movement for Lokpal Bill led by Anna Hazare, made a strong dent into Congress' support base.
BJP's chief ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan thanked people of Delhi for giving the party the maximum number of seats.
"I am confident that we will be able to serve the people of Delhi," he said, declining to take questions about the formation of next government.
Vardhan extended his wishes to Arvind Kejriwal of AAP and the outgoing Chief Minister.
"I will congratulate Kejriwal on the good show of his party against expectations. I will also offer my thanks to Dikshit for serving Delhi for 15 years," he said.
Vardhan won from the Krishna Nagar constituency with a whopping margin of over 43,150 votes.
In New Delhi constituency, Kejriwal pulled off a major upset against Dikshit, defeating her with a thumping margin of over 25,864 votes.
Making a brief appearance before party volunteers at his Hanuman Road office for the first time after the result was declared, he attributed his victory to the people of New Delhi Constituency.
"This is not my victory, it is a victory of people of New Delhi constituency and victory of democracy," he said, after defeating Dikshit.
Asked whether he will seek support of Congress to form government, Kejriwal said, "We will play the role of a constructive opposition and will not seek support from any party to form the government."
Kejriwal said he had no personal enmity with the Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit (in this election).
"Our fight was based on issues and principles," he said.
Kejriwal said that these results were historic in many ways as till now politics in the country was dominated by Congress BJP and few other parties.
"Religion, caste, corruption, crime, money and muscle power were the driving factor of these parties. Ever increasing corruption and inflation had made life hard," he said.
"Since they had no options left, so they decided to contest elections themselves. For the first time, this election was contested on the basis of truth and honesty," the activist turned politician said, adding it was a fight between politics of truth and honesty and the politics of corruption.
He said that people were fed up with the "corrupt politics" of BJP, Congress, and others.
"Many political stalwarts have been defeated by none other than the common people," he said, adding when the common man awakes then even the strongest candidates are dethroned.
Kejriwal, who was flanked by AAP leaders Manish Sisodia, Kumar Vishwas, Yogendra Yadav and Pankaj Gupta, said that this election saw many firsts, like a party putting up all details of its funds on the website.
"A party estimated that they need only Rs 20 crore for the elections and when we acheived the targeted amount we stopped accepting donations. No political party in the world, let alone India, there is no precedence that they have stopped accepting donations much before the elections were concluded but AAP has done it," he said.
"We had cancelled the ticket of one of our candidates four days before the polls after we received information about a criminal case against him," Kejriwal said.
The AAP National Convener congratulated BJP's Chief Ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan and the party for winning most number of seats.
While thanking his volunteers and their family members for supporting the party, he said "I would congratulate the people of Delhi for initiating clean and honest politics, which won't remain confined to Delhi but spread across the country."
In the last assembly polls, Congress had 43 seats, BJP 23 seats and BSP had two seats. The Lok Jana Shakti Party and Independent had one each.
During the campaigning, Vardhan had promised to cut power tariff by 30 per cent and slash vegetable prices within 30 days of coming to power.
The BJP has also promised to give 12 subsidised LPG cylinders in a year to each household instead of current nine, besides ensuring full statehood. It has also promised to set up a dedicated Women Security Force to ensure safety of women.
An RSS member since his youth days, 59-year-old Vardhan, a practicing ENT surgeon, had successfully connected with the voters while leading a high-voltage campaign from the front despite undercurrents of friction in the Delhi party unit.
He was announced Chief Ministerial candidate of BJP less then a month before the polls.
People close to him said Vardhan's easy-going attitude and disarming smile were his greatest assets because of which the party drew support from various quarters, some of them unexpected.
In its manifesto, Congress has promised to set up a Single Command System to address the problems of multiplicity of authorities and a common economic zone for the entire National Capital Region to minimise load on Delhi's infrastructure. It has also promised to construct double- decker flyovers to ease traffic congestion.
The AAP said it will pass the Jan Lokpal Bill within 15 days of coming to power, besides promising to cut power tariff by 50 per cent. It said 700 litres of water per day will be given free to each household.
A number of issues including price rise, corruption, unemployment, traffic congestion, water scarcity, high water and power tariff were raised by the Opposition against the Congress government.
Uncontrollable inflation, which left vegetables out of common man's reach just two months ahead of polls, also seemed to have sealed Congress' fate in its traditional bastions.
Hung assembly raises questions
The hung verdict in Delhi Assembly polls has raised intriguing questions about government formation in the national capital.
The options for BJP are to either stake claim to form the government or wait for Lt Governor Najeeb Jung to invite its leader Harsh Vardhan to do so as leader of the single largest party.
However, the catch is that the Lt Governor is likely to ask a BJP government, so invited, to prove its majority in the house within a specified time. Given the composition of the House, it is unlikely that BJP would be able to prove its majority unless there are defections from the Congress or AAP which may not happen.
Delhi BJP President Vijay Goel said the party will not resort to any unfair means to reach the magic figure of 36 and prefer to sit in the Opposition.
"We will not resort to any unfair means to get support of the required number of MLAs. The people of Delhi have given the verdict and we respect it. We will prefer to sit in opposition rather than forming a government through horse trading," Goel told PTI.
Former BJP President and incharge of Delhi Nitin Gadkari said, "We will form government if we get support in natural process. Otherwise we would like to sit in Opposition."
If there is no way out of the impasse, there may be a spell of the Lt Governor's rule for a maximum of six months in one go which could be extended up to one year.
Talking about various options, a Constitutional expert said a lot would depend upon the discretion of Lt Governor and whom he invites to form the government.
Another expert, S K Sharma, former Director of Lok Sabha Secretariat, said in most likelihood the Lt Governor will invite the single largest party to form the government and give it a chance to prove majority on the floor of the House.
"The Supreme Court in the S R Bommai case had ruled that the House is the appropriate forum for proving the strength of any ruling party," Sharma said.
With AAP making it clear that it will play the role of a constructive opposition, roping in support from them may be difficult for BJP.
Sources in BJP said the Independent candidate from Mundka constituency Rambir Shokeen has indicated that he will extend support to BJP which will take its tally to 33.
One expert said a minority government may also function if AAP and Congress do not want to topple it.
The BJP may even try to get support of some Congress MLAs as getting three of Congress' nine MLAs will not invite provisions of anti-defection law.
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