New Delhi: Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are headed for a spectacular victory in Delhi, forcing the BJP into a distant second place.
“I had no nervous moments, we knew people were with us. I promise to be the janta’s Chief Minister and end corruption and VIP culture,” Mr Kejriwal, 44, told NDTV.
The defeat for the BJP is the first blow for Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he swept to power last year. Mr Modi phoned Mr Kejriwal to congratulate him; they reportedly agreed to meet soon for tea.
Last year, Mr Kejriwal lost by a huge margin to the PM when they contested the Parliamentary seat from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
In recent months, the PM led his party to big results in four state elections; the BJP has formed the government in three of those. In Delhi, the BJP used the PM to campaign extensively, but, in a deviation from recent norm, chose to announce a Chief Ministerial candidate. The party picked former top cop and activist Kiran Bedi to run against Mr Kejriwal.
“I take full responsibility for the results,” said Ms Bedi to reporters this morning. She later complimented Mr Kejriwal on Twitter. “Full marks to Arvind. Congratulations. Now take Delhi to the heights it belongs to. Make it a world class city,” she tweeted.
The gracious admission of defeat comes after a campaign in which Ms Bedi frequently used harsh language to denouce her opponent as “toxic:” and “full of negtivity.” Mr Kejriwal, for his part, maintained in interviews that he thinks of Ms Bedi “a very nice lady.”
Mr Kejriwal focused in his campaign on seeking “forgiveness” for his disastrous decision to quit as Chief Minister last year after just 49 days in office. He promised to combat graft, and pledged cheaper utilities.