India’s ruling party headed for possible defeat in key state elections

India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is projected to suffer a major defeat in state legislative elections in Delhi.

Early results on Tuesday showed that the anti-establishment Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was on course to winning 57 seats in Delhi State’s 70-seat assembly.

Some of the latest exit projections showed the AAP either winning or on its way to winning 63 seats, while the BJP was projected to win just seven.

The polls showed that Congress, India’s oldest party, once again failed to win a single seat.

Delhi voted on February 8 after an aggressive campaign that pitted the AAP against India’s governing BJP.

AAP, which has governed the capital for the past five years, ran its campaign on an agenda centered on anti-corruption, healthcare, and education, which have hugely improved during its time in power. Much of AAP’s popularity is centered on its leader, Arvind Kejriwal, an anti-corruption activist who has been highly critical of the BJP government during his time as Delhi’s chief minister.

Multiple AAP MPs celebrated the party’s predicted victory.

Senior AAP MP Sanjay Singh thanked Delhi’s voters for the “historic mandate.” And Amanatullah Khan, who was elected MP for Delhi’s Okhla constituency, called the projected win “the victory of work over hatred.”

The ruling BJP had launched an aggressive campaign to win the capital city of 20 million people from the AAP, using the election to rally support for a controversial citizenship law that opponents say is anti-Muslim.

Much of the focus of the BJP Delhi campaign was also on female-led protests in the Muslim-majority Delhi suburb of Shaheen Bagh against Modi’s new citizenship law, the CAA.

In recent months, protests have rocked Delhi and the rest of India in response to CAA, which critics say is prejudicial to Muslims.

The results are a setback for the BJP, which won a landslide in general elections in May last year. Since December 2018, the BJP has lost power in five states, namely Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, and Jharkhand.

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