New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was leading from his New Delhi constituency by 9,815 votes at 12.30 pm, according to the Election Commission figures. The constituency carved out of Gole Market and Sarojini Nagar had seen one of the lowest turnouts in Saturday’s polling — 51.64 per cent as opposed to 64.7 per cent in 2015.
Kejriwal had heralded his entry into national capital politics, defeating then chief minister Sheila Dikshit in the 2013 assembly election by 22,000 votes from the constituency. In the 2015 election, he defeated BJP’s Nupur Sharma by over 31,000 votes while the Congress candidate, Kiran Walia, finished third.
The incumbent chief minister’s rivals in this election were lightweights — Sunil Yadav from the BJP and Romesh Sabherwal from the Congress. Yadav had declared during his campaign that he will never contest another election if he loses.
There was drama when Kejriwal had gone to file his nomination papers on 21 January, with 44 people standing in front of him to file their papers. Kejriwal with token number 45 had to wait for over six hours before he could complete the formalities.
Of the other aspiring contenders against Kejriwal, only nine, including these two, were left in the fray as nomination papers of others were rejected on various grounds.
There are a total of 1,44,509 voters in the New Delhi constituency, of whom 79,047 are male and 65,461 female. The constituency has a high number of government employees and traders.
Change before the elections behind win
Kejriwal raised the bar for his adversaries in the Delhi elections this time, from putting forth his party’s report card, slashing electricity bills, providing free bus and metro rides for women, setting up Wi-Fi points and ‘mohalla’ clinics.
But more importantly, the chief minister went on an overdrive to ensure an image makeover — from an anti-corruption activist who preferred ‘anarchism’ even after becoming the chief minister into a leader and an effective administrator.
The AAP chief also resorted to a time-tested political strategy — create a personality cult that would paper over all failures in governance and politics over the past five years.
From video conferences, mobile apps, metro stations, auto stands to hoardings on roads or full-page newspaper advertisements, Kejriwal’s face was present all over Delhi as he highlighted his government’s achievements.
Kejriwal also mended his ties with the media and shied away from mentioning Shaheen Bagh, the epicentre of anti-CAA protests that the BJP had made its central poll plank.
Election strategist Prashant Kishore’s suggestions clearly seem to have gone in his favour.
The town hall meetings, held by Kejriwal at Kishor’s behest, during the election campaign also reiterated the subtle attempt at rebuilding his image as a communicator instead of a leader who speaks only in monologues without listening.
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