Voting began this morning for the Delhi municipal polls to 272 wards in which the ruling BJP is locked in a triangular battle with the Congress and the AAP. More than 1.3 crore people are eligible to vote in the civic elections, spread over 13,000 polling stations across the national capital. Both the BJP and the Congress have exuded confidence about winning the electoral battle while the AAP is seeking to replicate its 2015 Assembly elections performance, despite suffering a debacle in the Rajouri Garden bypoll.
Polling began at 8 am amid tight security arrangements across the city.
Out of the 13,022 polling stations, the police have declared 3,284 as sensitive and 1,464 as hyper-sensitive.
Over 1.1 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise for the first time. Also, for the first time in MCD elections, None Of The Above (NOTA) option has been made available.
There are a total of 1,32,10,206 voters entitled to exercise their franchise in electing councillors for the wards falling under the three corporations – NDMC (104), SDMC (104) and EDMC (64).
Voting will be held till 5 pm. Counting of votes will be held on April 26.
The Delhi State Election Commission has deployed ample staff to man its polling stations, some of which fall in outer Delhi areas.
The wards going to polls include Narela, Okhla, Rajouri Garden, Ballimaran, Nawada, Vikas Nagar, Matiala, Munirka, Bhati, Tehkhand, Khichripur, Jhilmil, Wazirpur, Burari, Tilak Nagar, Kasturba Nagar and Andrews Ganj.
The verdict of the poll will have political ramifications beyond the capital’s borders and reshape the political equations here.
The BJP is seeking to retain the turf which it has held for the last 10 years and fielded all fresh faces from 267 wards. The party has projected for itself a tally of over 200 out of the 272 seats.
The AAP and the Congress too have claimed that they will cross the 200-mark.
The AAP has fielded candidates on all 272 wards while the Congress has 271 candidates in the fray.
Incidentally, in May last year, bypolls to 13 wards were held, in which the AAP had finished on top with five seats, followed by the Congress with 4, BJP at 3. One seat had gone to an independent candidate.
The AAP which had bagged 67 out of 70 seats in 2015 Delhi polls suffered a humiliating defeat in the recent Rajouri Garden bypoll.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, however, has refused to acknowledge the result as a “trailer for MCD polls”.
His party has been highlighting “corruption” in the BJP-led civic bodies, an issue it seeks to leverage in this contest.
The erstwhile unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was trifurcated in 2012 into North, South and East Municipal Corporations.
There are 1,004 candidates vying in the NDMC area, 985 in SDMC and 548 in EDMC.
The BSP and the JD(U) have fielded 211 and 95 candidates respectively while the SP has entered the fray with 28.
The Generation-1 electronic voting machines (EVMs) are being used for the polls, which the Commission has described as “foolproof”.
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.