Delhi civic polls to witness keen contest after hectic campaigning
New Delhi, April 21 - Residents of Delhi will vote on Sunday in municipal polls that are being seen as a test of popularity of the AAP government, BJP's ability to score a hat-trick in the local body and Congress's efforts to revive itself in the metropolis.
Polls for 272 seats spread across three municipal corporations have seen hectic campaigning with national and local leaders of various parties holding rallies in different parts of the city.
The campaign also saw parties make extensive use of battery-operated rickshaws. The rickshaws, decked with flags and posters of parties as also independent candidates, have been making rounds of residential colonies and bazaars with attached loudspeakers blaring out the electoral message.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress are major players, Swaraj India, a party floated by former AAP leaders, has also made sustained efforts to get its message across in its debut election. Other parties in the fray include Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Janata Dal-United, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Shiv Sena.
An electorate of over 1.32 crore will choose from 2,537 candidates in the fray for North Delhi Municipal Corporation and South Delhi Municipal Corporation (104 seats each) and East Delhi Municipal Congress (64 seats). The results will be declared on April 26.
AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has led the party's effort to gain control of the municipal corporations from BJP, which has ruled the civic body for the last 10 years. Kejriwal has held rallies, interacted with the media and sent video and audio messages to the voters.
AAP is contesting MCD polls for the first time as it was formed after the last Delhi municipal elections in 2012. It had scored a stunning victory in the 2015 Delhi assembly polls by winning 67 of 70 seats.
BJP's poll effort saw rallies by party chief Amit Shah as also several union ministers including Rajnath Singh, M. Venkaiah Naidu, Smriti Irani and Uma Bharti.
The party had wrested Rajouri Garden assembly seat from AAP earlier this month.
BJP candidates have used pictures of both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah in their posters.
Congress, which finished second in the Rajouri Garden bypoll, fielded some of its senior leaders in the campaign including Jairam Ramesh, Salman Khurshid and Shashi Tharoor. However, its poll effort, led by state unit Chief Ajay Maken, suffered jolts as some prominent leaders left the party during the campaign to join the BJP.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also addressed two rallies in support of his JD-U's candidates.
Among the promises the parties made in their manifestos, the AAP has promised to end house tax, the BJP insurance cover of Rs 10 lakh for students studying in MCD schools and Congress stating that it will shut landfill sites in the city.
Swaraj India focused on the issues of pollution and cleanliness in Delhi.
The run-up to elections saw Kejriwal raising questions on the authenticity of electronic voting machines in the wake of some media reports and demanding that polls should be held through the ballot paper. The Congress also made similar demand.
The state election commission, however, rejected the demand, terming the EVMs completely safe.