The AAP swept the local municipal bypolls in Delhi, winning four of five seats. While it retained Trilokpuri, Kalyanpuri, Rohini, and wrested Shalimar Bagh from the BJP, it lost Chauhan Banger, where it has a sitting MLA, to the Congress by a huge margin. Rupashree Nanda catches up with AAP MLA Atishi who has been closely involved in the AAP’s campaign. Edited Excerpts:
You have campaigned hard for the MCD bypolls. Were these results on expected lines?
AAP has won four out of five seats with a heavy margin and with a very clear difference. The people of Delhi have given an indication that they want BJP out of MCD and they want the Arvind Kejriwal model of development to be brought in the MCD as well.
Is losing Chauhan Banger not a shock, especially when you consider that the sitting MLA also belongs to AAP? What are the factors that led to the heavy defeat there?
The candidate who was contesting from Chauhan Banger from Congress is the son of Chaudhury Mateen, three-time MLA and a strong local leader. Sometimes, a strong candidate can have an impact on local elections. But the message from these elections is very clear. Four out of five seats, heavy margins, BJP having been thrown out even of the one seat they had… I think the people of Delhi have given a very clear message.
Do you think losing Chauhan Banger has something to do with the manner in which the AAP and Delhi CM handled the Delhi riots and the Tabhligi Jamaat issue?
As I said, Choudhury Mateen’s son and a strong candidate can have an impact on a local election. But the message from the people of Delhi is one-sided. Not one out of those four seats was won on a close margin. Right from the first round of voting, the AAP was leading on all these four seats.
In Shalimar Bagh you won by a close margin, a little over 2,000 votes.
AAP was leading on that seat from the first round. A seat that has been traditionally the BJP’s, a seat where there was a sitting BJP councillor. The fact that the people of Shalimar Bagh have voted BJP out of power indicates that BJP is on its way out from the MCD.
Looking ahead, how do you think this will play out in the MCD elections next year?
AAP is going to win in all the three seats. We have seen Arvind Kejriwal’s model of development in the Delhi government and we are going to see it in the MCD as well.
About the Chauhan Banger loss, do you think that this indicates the AAP’s relationship with the Muslims?
I think it is an indicator of the fact that the candidate was strong, it was a localised election. So it had an impact on that. Otherwise, the people of Delhi have given a clear indication.