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dna exclusive: BJP wins Lodhi Garden vote

Friday, 4 April 2014 - 9:05am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

The BJP has won hands down in a unique voting exercise in Delhi's Lodhi Garden.

Morning walkers at the garden comprise the who's who of the capital — politicians, celebrities, bureaucrats, judges, industrialists — apart from the general public.

Manmohan Kalra, the former owner of Rajdoot, a landmark hotel in South Delhi, placed a couple of ballot boxes and tables in the garden complex on March 16 and 17.

A group of walkers — Congress leaders Anand Sharma and JP Aggarwal, former enforcement director Bhure Lal, industrialist Kamal Aggarwal and several serving and retired high court judges and bureaucrats among others — queued up, all dressed for the occasion, filled the slips, and cast their votes.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley, a regular at the garden, missed the polls as he was busy campaigning.

To get an eclectic mix, the group coaxed visitors, especially youth and working class people like gardeners, drivers, domestic workers and sweepers to caste their vote.

Nearly 20% of the voters were bureaucrats and politicians, 35% industrialists and traders, 20% middle-class visitors, especially youths, and 25% working class people.

The two-day exercise fetched a respectable 484 votes. The BJP emerged a clear winner with 332 votes. Trailing behind was the Aam Aadmi Party with 101 votes. And the Congress, as expected, was not even in the reckoning. It got just 40 votes. Only 10 voters went for the None of the above (Nota) option and one to another party.

Kalra and his friend, former defence bureaucrat Rajesh Hans, among others, say the results will be reflected in the Lok Sabha election, in Delhi at least if not at the national level.

"We did a similar exercise about 18 days before the Delhi assembly elections. Our results were quite close to the actual results," Kalra said.

The experiment in November fetched 319 votes. AAP emerged a clear winner with 185 votes. The BJP came second with 95 votes and the Congress got just 19 votes. Fifteen voters opted for Nota. And the remaining five votes went to other parties and Independents.

"Arvind Kejrival was thrilled to know about the results. I later came to know that AAP celebrated that day because it became almost sure of success," Kalra said.

Morning walkers feel the change in result patterns between the two polls, undertaken within a space of four months, shows the waning popularity of AAP. Many say they voted for AAP in November, but this time chose the BJP.

"AAP lost out because Kejriwal shirked responsibility by resigning. He is being seen as someone who's too ambitious, who doesn't want to go through the grind. AAP loss is certainly BJP's gain as Congress is not even in the reckoning," Rajesh Hans, a retired defence bureaucrat who voted both times, said.

Another serving bureaucrat said: "This result could mean at least five out of seven seats for the BJP if not seven out of seven in Delhi."

But another serving bureaucrat said: "This sample voting has 55% of the elite that may not reflect the opinion correctly. AAP may still perform better."

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