BJP’s hopes up, Cong looks at voting trends

The results of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, in which BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) trounced the Congress-backed SAD (Delhi), on Wednesday had a definite effect on Delhi's political parties. Morale in the Opposition BJP seemed buoyed given that they had also won the municipal elections last year, its dismal performance forced the Congress to ponder its calculations before the Assembly elections scheduled for later this year.

After ruling the country's second-most powerful Sikh body since 2002, Paramjit Singh Sarna's SAD (Delhi), which won 27 seats in 2006, slipped to just eight when the counting concluded on Wednesday. The SAD (Badal) walked away with 37 of the 46 constituencies in Delhi, their highest tally ever.

Delhi-BJP president Vijender Gupta, who was visibly elated, called on SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal and asserted that anti-incumbency against the Sheila Dikshit-led Congress government was beginning to show. "Last year, we won the municipal elections and now, with our support, our ally has emerged victorious in the DSGMC elections. We are only gaining momentum and the morale of party workers is at an all-time high," Gupta said.

Leaders from both parties admit that the Sikh community could influence the outcome in at least 25 to 30 Assembly constituencies. "The line is very clear. Sarna means Congress in Delhi and SAD means the BJP and our ally. The results show an overwhelming urge to vote out the Congress in Delhi," Gupta said.

The victory also has senior leaders of SAD in Punjab vying for a larger share of seats for the Delhi Assembly elections. "Today's results changed the equation in favour of the SAD. It is expected that the Badals would ask for more seats from the BJP. Other than the traditional four or five places, which were considered to be Akali strongholds, several other localities in Delhi have emerged as Akali supporters. It makes more sense for the BJP to field SAD candidates there," an Akali leader said.

When asked, Gupta said such decisions would be taken after consulting the BJP leadership.

The Congress sought to downplay the victory and its implications on the Assembly elections. "The BJP and SAD have had a seat sharing agreement since 1993 of 66 seats to 4. However, the SAD has not won a single seat in any of Delhi's Assembly elections," a senior Congress leader said.

He said the party would look into reasons for the defeat and ascertain possible voting trends.

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