The BJP handed a humiliating defeat to the Kejriwal-led party, which finished a distant third and even lost its deposit.
Ten days before the municipal polls, the Aam Aadmi Party on Thursday suffered a body blow as it lost the RajouriGarden assembly seat to the Bharatiya Janata Party, forfeited its deposit, and finished third behind the Congress which showed signs of clawing back in its erstwhile turf.
The timing and scale of the defeat could not have been worse for the Arvind Kejriwal-led party which is still reeling from its dismal performance in Punjab and Goa assembly polls.
The Shiromani Akali Dal’s Manjinder Singh Sirsa, who contested the polls on a BJP ticket, bagged 40,602 votes, over 50 per cent of the total vote count, in what turned out to be a two-cornered fight with the Congress’ Meenakshi Chandela finishing second with 25,950 votes.
The AAP’s fresh face Harjeet Singh not only finished a distant third with just 10,243 votes but also lost his security deposit as he received less than one-sixth of the total votes polled in the west Delhi constituency dominated by Punjabi and Sikh voters.
The victory came as a boost for the BJP which is hoping to retain power in the three municipal corporations staving off anti-incumbency after having controlled the entities over the last one decade.
The result also indicated a shift in the city’s political dynamics which had witnessed a radical churn in 2015 when the AAP had romped home with a staggering 67 seats in the 70-member Delhi assembly, decimating the Congress and the BJP.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia attributed the defeat to the anger of people over its sitting legislator Jarnail Singh quitting the seat to contest the Punjab polls, which necessitated the by-election.
“There was anger among people after Jarnail went to Punjab. We tried convincing them, but with the results we are realising that people were not convinced and remained upset,” he said, adding that the verdict won’t have any impact on the April 23 Municipal Corporation of Delhi polls.
The Delhi BJP was quick to demand Kejriwal’s resignation on “moral grounds” and said this was the “beginning of the end” of the AAP in the national capital.
Addressing a press conference, BJP MP Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma said, “After humiliating defeat in the bypoll, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal should give his resignation on moral ground as his party has completely been rejected by people in this election.”
In terms of vote share, the Congress staged a turnaround of sorts by getting around 33 per cent of the total votes cast, in a jump of over 21 per cent over the 2015 assembly polls.
“INC workers have done well to jump from 12 per cent to 38 per cent in just 2 years! AAP loses deposit. Keep the spirit alive -- we’ll be the dark horse in MCD!” Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken tweeted before the final tally was out. The final figures were slightly different.
For the AAP, the slide in vote share has been steep, from 47 per cent in 2015 to 13 per cent in the current one. The BJP’s share has increased from 38 per cent in 2015 to 52 per cent in 2017.
With the victory, the BJP’s tally in the assembly will become four. The Congress does not have any presence in the House.
Around 47 per cent of the over 1.6 lakh electors of the west Delhi seat had cast their vote on April 9.
In Madhya Pradesh, BJP retained the Bandhavgarh assembly seat after defeating rival Congress by margin of over 25,000 votes while it was a close fight between Congress and BJP in Ater seat.
BJP nominee Shivnarayan Singh defeated Congress’ candidate Savitri Singh from the seat in Umaria district by 25,476 votes, an election official said.
The bypoll was necessitated as BJP MLA Gyan Singh got elected to the Lok Sabha in November last year from Shahdol in a bye election.
In Himachal Pradesh, BJP candidate Dr Anil Dhiman won the Bhoranj (Scheduled Caste) assembly seat in Himachal Pradesh by 8,290 votes.
The BJP candidate defeated his nearest Congress rival, Promila Devi by 8,290 votes.
Dhiman polled 24,453 votes against 16,144 votes polled by Devi while Pawan Chandel, a BJP rebel who contested as an Independent, polled 4,630 votes.
The seat fell vacant following the death of BJP stalwart and former minister Ishwar Dass Dhiman, who won the seat six times in a row since 1990 and now his son Dr Anil Dhiman has retained the seat.
With this, the strength of the BJP has increased to 28 in the 68-member House.
The showing was good for the party in Assam also where its candidate Ranoj Pegu won the Dhemaji Assembly by-election defeating his nearest Congress rival Babul Sonowal by 9,285 votes.
While the BJP candidate polled 75,217 votes, his Congress rival garnered 65,932 votes, the election office here said.
The bypoll was necessitated following the election of BJP MLA Pradan Baruah as MP from Lakhimpur Lok Sabha seat.
The BJP had won 60 of 126 assembly seats and formed the government in partnership with its pre-poll alliance partners last year.
The ruling Congress retained its hold over Karnataka, winning Nanjangud and Gundlupet assembly seats.
Congress’ Kalale N Keshavamurthy defeated his nearest rival V Srinivas Prasad (BJP) by over 21,000 votes in Nanjangud.
In Gundlupet, Geetha Mahadevaprasad (Congress) trounced BJP’s C S Niranjan Kumar by over 10,000 votes, an election official said.
Both the seats were held by the Congress.
With the assembly polls slated to be held in about a year, the Congress and the BJP had played for heavy stakes in the by-polls.
The by-elections were necessitated in Gundulpet following the death of Cooperation Minister Mahadevaprasad and in Nanjangud, it was caused by the resignation of Srinivas Prasad as Congress MLA after he was dropped from the ministry.
Srinivas Prasad had switched over to BJP, while Keshavamurthy had contested the 2013 assembly polls on a Janata Dal-Secular ticket.
In Rajasthan, BJP candidate Shobha Rani was leading by 22,602 votes after ten rounds of counting in the Dholpur assembly bypoll.