NEW DELHI: Followers of an upstart Indian political party danced in the streets on Tuesday as the count from a key election in the capital showed they were inflicting a crushing defeat on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supporters cavorted to Bhangra music and set off fireworks in expectation they would get a landslide victory in the New Delhi regional assembly.
Modi, whose party swept to power in national elections last year, congratulated AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, the incumbent Delhi chief minister. “Wishing them the very best in fulfilling the aspirations of the people of Delhi,” Modi tweeted.
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had launched an aggressive campaign to win the city of 20 million people from the AAP, using the election to rally support for a controversial nationality law.
But the AAP, which swept to power in 2015 after being launched three years earlier by former tax officer Arvind Kejriwal, was poised to retain control.
With a third of votes counted, the AAP — or common man party — was on course for at least 62 of the 70 seats on offer.
The BJP was a distant second, ahead or winning merely eight constituencies, while the Indian National Congress led by Sonia Gandhi, failed to open its account. The results were a near repeat of the 2015 election, when the AAP won 67 seats and BJP netted three.
Kejriwal fought the election on local issues such as subsidised water and electricity, as well as the safety of women.
“This win has given birth to a new type of politics — the politics of work,” he told cheering supporters at party headquarters.
“This is the type of politics that will take the country forward in the 21st century.”
Yogendra Yadav, an academic who was a member of the AAP executive until 2015 and now has his own party, said the result was a clear rejection of Modi and his party’s angry campaign.
“The BJP indulged in one of the most vitriolic, communal hate-mongering campaigns as a desperate electoral gamble,” he said.
“If this succeeded, it would have become a template for everyone else to follow.” — AFP/dpa