We've taught BJP a lesson, say Krishna Nagar residents
"For us doctor sahib (Harsh Vardhan) is much more than a politician, he is like a family member. But this time, we voted for AAP because the arrogant BJP expected us to choose an outsider," Sumitra Sethi, a 50-year-old homemaker from east Delhi's Krishna Nagar who had been a loyal BJP supporter since 1993, told IANS.
"My family has been voting for BJP since doctor sahib stood for elections for the first time in 1993. We admire the BJP but are not blind followers," she added.
The views expressed by Sethi were common to a majority of residents of the densely populated east Delhi colony which has narrow lanes and tall buildings nestled cheek by jowl.
The BJP's decision to replace Harsh Vardhan -- who won the assembly seat five times since 1993 and was later inducted into Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government -- with Kiran Bedi miffed the voters who made sure that the party was taught a lesson.
Bedi, who was also the party's chief ministerial candidate in Delhi lost by a margin of 2,277 votes while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faced a humiliating defeat as well winning just three of the 70 assembly seats.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) made a stunning comeback winning 67 seats.
"The BJP should realise that they just cannot para-drop candidates anywhere and expect the locals to vote for them. At least that is not going to happen in Krishna Nagar. We were upset with Bedi and we have sent a clear message to the party," Praveen Agarwal, a grocery shop owner near Lala Lajpat Rai Chowk in the colony, home to many middle class families, told IANS.
Forty-year-old Agarwal has been a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in his youth and has therefore always been a loyal BJP supporter. But he too chose AAP this time.
Another local resident, Shyam Bhagnani added: "I had been a part of almost all the roadshows that Bedi took out in the area but I wasn't impressed with either her oratory skills or the fact that she has a knack of giving politically incorrect statements."
A miffed Bhagnani added: "Why did she call herself a doctor when she came here to campaign? For us there is only one doctor (Harsh Vardhan) and no one can replace him."
In fact, many in the neighbourhood were turned off by Bedi's statements before and after the polls.
"I saw her on TV today after she lost and she had the audacity to say that Krishna Nagar was filthy and that she will clean it. What is she trying to imply? Has doctor sahib not worked here? Isn't she indirectly criticizing him (Harsh Vardhan)? asked Surjeet Jolly, 35 a pharmacy owner.
The central leadership of the party had in fact got a whiff of the trouble brewing in the locality with reports that the locals were not warming up to Bedi before the election. Hence, Harsh Vardhan was asked to "put in extra efforts" to ensure that Bedi won by a comfortable margin, party sources said.
However, the stunning results are a proof that Harsh Vardhan failed to influence the peeved voters who had made up their minds to elect the AAP candidate. - IANS