With battle lines drawn, the stage is now set for high-octane Delhi municipal polls tomorrow, the verdict of which will have political ramifications beyond the capital’s borders.
The campaigning involving the three main players — the AAP, the BJP and the Congress — was intense, marked by rancour, and the verdict will reshape the political equations in the country’s power capital.
It will determine whether the sway of Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP – which had stunned all by bagging 67 seats out of 70 in the 2015 assembly polls – still holds and if the Rajouri Garden defeat was due to hostile constituency dynamics.
The BJP, which is seeking to retain the turf it has held for the last 10 years, has fielded all fresh faces in the contest — 267 wards. It had expelled it’s Narela ward candidate from the party for allegedly allowing sacked AAP minster Sandeep Kumar to campaign for her.
The Congress, which finished second in the Rajouri Garden bypoll, is hoping for a resurgence and banked on its big guns during campaigns to shore up its fortune, despite unabated infighting. It has fielded 271 candidates.
The AAP, which suffered a humiliating defeat in the recent bypolls and still smarting under its poor performance in Punjab and Goa polls, has refused to acknowledge the results as a “trailer of MCD polls”.
While the BJP’s move to field new candidates was seen as a strategy to counter anti-incumbency, the party claims it was to “give opportunity to the next generation”.
The BJP is betting big on the contest. Addressing booth-level workers during campaigning, party chief Amit Shah had said a favourable verdict in the MCD polls could be a stepping stone to victory in the next Assembly elections in the city.
The erstwhile unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was trifurcated in 2012 into North, South and East Municipal Corporations. While NDMC and SDMC have 104 wards each, EDMC has 64.
There are 1,004 candidates vying in the NDMC area, 985 in SDMC’s and 548 in EDMC’s.
The BSP and the JD(U) have fielded 211 and 95 candidates while the SP has entered the fray with 28.
The SP today said it has 30 candidates altogether but two of them have died.
Yogendra Yadav-led Swaraj India is also in the fray.
The run-up to the polls have also been dominated by allegations of tampered EVMs, made by Kejriwal, a charge rejected by the Election Commission.
The Generation-1 electronic voting machines (EVMs) are to be used for the MCD elections, which the Commission has described as “foolproof”.
The State Election Commission is gearing up to carry out the electoral exercise that will be spread over 13,000 booths spanning 272 wards.
Over 1.3 crore people are eligible to vote in the polls and of them more than 1.1 lakh are first-time voters.
Out of the 13,022 polling stations, police authorities have declared 3,284 as sensitive and 1,464 as hypersensitive.
For the first time in MCD elections, None Of The Above (NOTA) option will be available.
The total number of electorate for the civic polls stands at 1,32,10,206 which include 73,15,915 men, 58,93,418 women and 793 voters in the other category.
This would be the first civic poll after the latest delimitation which has redrawn the civic wards.
As per the new delimitation exercise, based on the 2011 Census, each ward now has an average of 60,000 people with an estimated 40,000 voters.
Delhi has 70 Assembly seats and before the delimitation, every constituency had four wards, but, now it ranges from 3- 7.