What Delhi’s Local Polls Tell Us About India’s Upcoming Elections

A record turnout in the capital indicates that Indians are anxious for change

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Voters queue inside a polling station to cast their votes during the state assembly election in New Delhi on Dec. 4, 2013

Adnan Abidi / Reuters

Record numbers of New Delhi voters took part in state assembly elections on Dec. 4, challenging the Indian capital’s reputation for political apathy and fueling intrigue over the fate of the major parties in national polls next spring. Delhi-ites crowded well-guarded polling stations from Wednesday morning until late last night, when long lines of voters took advantage of extended polling hours to get their fingers inked.

The record turnout of over 66% comes after a tumultuous year in the nation’s capital, kicked off by mass protests over the death of the young woman who was gang-raped last December. The ensuing uproar over women’s safety, ongoing allegations of corruption in the highest levels of government and the struggling national economy have all set the stage for this week’s test fight between the ruling Congress Party, which has been in power in New Delhi for the last 15 years, and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

While final results are not yet in, an exit poll by C fore, a marketing research group, indicated the incumbent Congress Party would take some 30% of the capital’s vote, the BJP 32%, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) 25%, and other parties 13%. This was also the first election in which Indian voters could express their dissatisfaction with all the candidates on offer by choosing “none of the above” on voting machines.

Exit polls have been wrong before, but this appears to be a powerful debut for the AAP, a party that entered the political scene last year as an offshoot of a long-running anti-corruption movement in the country. It is also a strong showing for the BJP, which may have outperformed Congress in three other recent local assembly polls — in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. If the BJP does as well as polls indicate, it will give a further boost to the national prospects of Narendra Modi, the BJP’s controversial prime ministerial candidate, who led the campaign ahead of the state polls.

Of course, the Delhi vote cannot presage what will happen in national elections. But it can’t be ignored, either. The AAP was founded on the principle of fighting high-level corruption that has allegedly dogged the administration of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while Modi has spent much of his time at the podium attacking the ruling party for squandering India’s resources and potential since coming to power in 2004.

If Delhi’s voters do not re-elect the Congress Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, party leaders will have to start thinking hard about how to play the remaining five to six months on the national stage. This week’s record voter participation, says Jagdeep Chhokar, a founder of the Association for Democratic Reforms, is in effect a referendum on the country’s political system. “If [political parties] were doing a better job, people wouldn’t go and vote,” Chhokar says. “There would be no reason to go and change things.”

25 comments
Suraj Ji
Suraj Ji

mere pujniya sant asaramji bapu nirdosh hain! unke khilaf sharmnak media trial band karo ! bina sabut wale samachar band karo ! मेरे प्रातः स्मरणीय परम पुज्य सद गुरु देव ब्रह्म ज्ञानी संत श्री आसाराम बापू जी की सदा ही जय ! जय हो मेरे गुरु देव साईं आसाराम बापू जी । जय हो नारायण साईं जी | . . . #isupportasarambapu

ChintanJhunjhunwala
ChintanJhunjhunwala

we will bring down poverty,we will bring down corruption,we will bring down inflation,we work for secularism....people are tired of hearing the same rhetoric every election time and want a change ...they want to give a chance to someone who they feel can bring around that change...and right now that man seems to be namo.

vaishnavjagdip
vaishnavjagdip

People of India are tired of  increasing crime rate, corruption, scams, & inflation.

Govt is utterly failed to control such anti social,/national activities.


Govt  even do not listen to genuine public representations, UPA govt 's image is tarnished because of arrogance, deficit governance


Even after next general election,  no political party is likely to get absolute majority, & coalition govt do not allow reforms, take harsh but correct steps which are in the public interest,however People of India have started raising their voice against govt actions which are against public interest



sridhar.sid
sridhar.sid

What Indians will also tell you Krista is that a change of party in power does not solve the problem, merely changes the problem! Indians operate despite the Government and not because of the Government. Even the AAP is filthy and they will stoop to the same levels, despite the tamasha with their brooms. Change in India happens in rural India, where people need urgent change and do not wait for the Government to deliver

Carol Groff Lucey
Carol Groff Lucey

It's TIME to tell the American people the truth, not just ASIA & Europe!! TIME is lamestream media!! You see what happened to CNN & MSNBC, did you not??? Their ratings are plummeting as will your SALES!! We The People will not support any news media outlet that doesn't tell the TRUTH!! This is an OBAMANATION and DISGUSTING!! TIME stop being "politically correct"!! It is in the best interest of every American to Impeach OBAMA and take the trash out!! Does TIME think that the USA is better to be a SOCIALIST COUNTRY??!! SOCIALIST HEALTHCARE, SOCIALIST EDUCATION ( COMMON CORE). WHY IS TIME HELPING TO RUIN OUR GREAT REPUBLIC??!!! TELL US WHAT YOU TELL ASIA & EUROPE. REAL JOURNALISM IS THE "CHANGE" WE WANT!! IMPEACH OBAMA!!

Joe Kilinski
Joe Kilinski

Do an article on obama election fraud and I may be interested in buying a subscription!

Nipun Garg
Nipun Garg

Actually, even with "None of the Above", the Election Commission of India has stated that re-elections will not be conducted even if majority of candidates are voted "None of the Above."

Alok Jha
Alok Jha

the point is if majority dislikes the candidates..... reelections will be held with new and better personality....... what makes politicians conscious abt what they do during the five year period

Vijay Banga
Vijay Banga

No one is ignoring but remain Ignorant of tomorrow as all analysis have gone wrong

rohitdundee
rohitdundee

So far young people were cynical of politics!! With the coming of AAP they are participating in poiltics!! We can't always blame the BJPCong politicians we have to take the Jhaadu and clean it ourselves!!

Keith A. West
Keith A. West

if you did "none of the above" whats the point in voting?

Mohamed Emad
Mohamed Emad

Congratulations to the Lion of Egypt Abdel Fattah al-Sisi We love you Sisi

Hala Al-Hofi
Hala Al-Hofi

Congratulations to the Lion of Egypt Abdel Fattah al-Sisi We love you Sisi

Mohamed Elshamhout
Mohamed Elshamhout

Congratulations to the Lion of Egypt Abdel Fattah al-Sisi We love you Sisi

vatsalchirimar
vatsalchirimar

Though there was heavy campaigning from the side of the AAP, many believe that they will not be able to win very many seats. There is a lot of artificial (media-created) hype about the AAP, which will not necessarily get it votes.

Robert David
Robert David

"This was also the first election in which Indian voters could express their dissatisfaction with all the candidates on offer by choosing “none of the above” on voting machines." wish we could do that here!

Smonkey5
Smonkey5

Now this new party going to create problems for Sri Lanka?

Ali Mahmoud
Ali Mahmoud

Abd elfattah elsisi winner woooooooooooooow i love you sisi yessssssssss

anupamtiwari99
anupamtiwari99

@sridhar.sid matlab ki kisi aur ko chance na de aur ek hi party se thukte rahe,,,,,bhai 60 saal ho gaye(waiting for the govt. to deliver but each time it delivers a papu as a succesor or caretaker to the throne)....60  saal

KarthikGomadam
KarthikGomadam

@Carol Groff Lucey You republican trolls have finally found internet and are now leaving your undigested droppings all over it! What has this article to do with Obama? Oops I forgot, you must be one of those Americans who lacks basic reading skills to understand what stuff is about!