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Can AAP break BJP’s 15-year streak? Here’s all you need to know about MCD elections

By Kumar Kunal, Ashish Kumar :

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been ruling in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) for the last 15 years. In the last MCD election in 2017, the BJP won a massive two-thirds of the total number of wards, and with it, the saffron party not only completed the hattrick but also increased its seat tally from 138 in 2012 to 181 in 2017.

In 2017, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) entered the MCD elections for the first time and managed to win in 49 wards. And while it did not win the elections, the AAP managed to replace the Congress party, which won only 31 wards, as the main opposition.

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For the AAP and the BJP, the stakes are therefore high in the upcoming MCD elections. Will the AAP be able to woo Delhi’s voters, or is the party’s dominance limited only to assembly elections?


In 2017, on the one hand, both the AAP and the BJP gained 49 and 43 wards respectively, while Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party, and others lost 46, 12 and 34 wards respectively. Congress lost 60 per cent of its wards.

What is significant here, though, is that while the BJP gained massively in terms of wards, the party’s vote share remained stagnant at 36 per cent. The gain for the BJP was due to the changing nature of competition. The MCD used to be a bipolar contest between the BJP and Congress. But after the entry of the AAP, this became a triangular struggle.

The AAP replaced Congress both in terms of seat and vote share. The BSP, which used to be the third party in Delhi with a significant vote share, has almost become absent since.

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If we look at the zone-wise performance of parties in the 2017 MCD elections, it was in the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (64 wards) where the BJP’s vote share was highest at 39 per cent. Meanwhile, in the North Delhi Municipal Corporation and the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (both have 104 wards), the BJP polled equally with 36 per cent of the votes.

The AAP, meanwhile, gained their minimum (24 per cent) in the EDMC and maximum (28 per cent) in the NDMC. In the former, the AAP and Congress’s contest was close with just a one per cent difference in the tally. In the latter, however, the vote share difference between the AAP and Congress was six per cent in favour of the AAP.


Barring the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the AAP has been consistently in the top two positions in terms of vote share and seat share. The electoral contest in Delhi has become increasingly binary between the AAP and the BJP in the last few years.

While the AAP has swept the assembly elections, the BJP has managed to dominate the Lok Sabha elections in Delhi. The support base for both parties in the assembly and the Lok Sabha crossed the 50 per cent mark and swung to each other in different elections. To dethrone the BJP from the MCD, either the AAP or Congress would have to eat at least 10 per cent of votes from each other.

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The data is very clear in the sense that the AAP was the only new major party if we compare the 2017 elections with 2012. Despite being the new entrant, it got more than 26 per cent of the vote share and made the contest triangular.

The BSP was a strong player in the MCD elections in 2007 and 2012. The party received more than ten per cent of the votes in Delhi. But the entry of the AAP sent the BSP to the margins as a major Dalit vote share sided with the new party. The AAP not only gained at the cost of the BSP but also ate almost 10 per cent of Congress and five per cent of the independent vote shares respectively.

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Independents play a major role in local body elections because they are fought on local issues and individual candidates have a good chance of getting a handsome amount of the vote share. Despite this, the BJP retained its vote bank in 2017 as compared to 2012. Because there was a fight for numbers two and three between the AAP and Congress, divided opposition votes proved advantageous for the BJP.

Who will have the edge this time?

Keeping the vote shares in mind for the last few MCD elections, it is obvious that the BJP has edged down the opponents through sheer consistency. It has a dedicated vote bank by virtue of being a cadre-based party and a support base from the Sangh-supported organisations. The AAP swept two assembly elections in 2015 and 2020 under the leadership of Arvind Kejriwal. But whenever it came to other elections like Lok Sabha and municipal elections, it faltered.

During the parliamentary elections of 2014 and 2019, the party failed to win a single seat. The results were similar in the 2017 MCD elections as well. Right now, because Kejriwal and the party is very occupied with the Gujarat assembly elections, the AAP won’t be able to devote much time to local body polls in Delhi.

But this time, the AAP will try to gain an upper hand against the BJP by making misgovernance an issue. The BJP is facing major anti-incumbency and is hence planning not to repeat 75 per cent of its sitting councillors.

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The AAP will try to make sanitation a big issue. That’s why Kejriwal started his MCD poll campaign by visiting the Ghazipur landfill site. Similarly, Congress is also planning to remind the voters about corruption and other related issues that will target both the AAP and the BJP.

The AAP is trying to win Delhi and is promising a “double-engine sarkar” for Delhi but all will majorly depend on the candidate selection made by all the parties. In a small area like a ward, the local good candidate could be the clincher in a closely contested election.

But there are clear challenges before AAP, too, keeping its votebank intact. Interestingly, the MCD polls is coinciding with the Gujarat Assembly elections this time. With AAP playing its Hindutva card in Gujarat, it might impact its vote dynamics in the national capital. AAP garnered Muslim and Dalit votes in the last two Delhi Assembly elections, which helped the party clinch a sweeping majority both times.

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But this time, Kejriwal’s Hindutva card in Gujarat may cost the party in Delhi as a major section of Muslim voters in the national capital seems unhappy with the design of AAP politics. Similarly, almost a month ago, AAP got rid of its Dalit face and minister, Rajendra Pal Gautam, to keep Kejriwal away from any religious controversy as it could have a negative impact over Gujarat. But this move seems to have miffed a section of Dalit voters, especially Ambedkarites. Whether this will result in vote loss for AAP in the MCD elections is something to watch out for.

(Ashish Kumar is a political analyst and co-founder of

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