Voting for the Assembly byelections to Delhi’s Rajinder Nagar constituency began on Thursday morning. The battle is seen as a two-way contest between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) The bypolls to the constituency was necessitated after MLA Raghav Chadha was elected as Rajya Sabha MP. The seat, which used to a BJP stronghold once, has been won by AAP candidates since 2015. Polling, which began at 7 am, will continue till 6 pm. The counting of votes will take place on June 26.
The BJP has pitted former councilor Rajesh Bhatia against senior AAP leader Durgesh Pathak for the seat. Both parties have fielded heavyweights, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and BJP Union Minister Smriti Irani, for campaigning in the days leading to the bypolls. Water scarcity and the government’s liquor policy were two key issues put forth by the BJP during campaigning. On the other hand, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal reached out to the electorate to vote for the “future of their children and development of the region.” “People are voting in the bypoll to Rajinder Nagar in Delhi and Punjab’s Sangrur seats today. I appeal to the people of both the areas to vote for the future of their children and for development of the region,” he tweeted in Hindi.
Winning the constituency will not upset the numbers much for the ruling AAP as it has 62 seats in the 70-member Assembly, while the BJP has eight. However, BJP will try to reclaim its stronghold. Prior to 2015, BJP had won three out of four assembly elections from the seat since 1998.
While addressing the arrangements made for the bypolls for the constituency, Delhi Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Ranbir Singh told news agency PTI, “Mock polls were held at all polling stations, and voting has begun under tight security arrangements for the Rajinder Nagar bypoll. Actor Sonam Kapoor has released a video message to appeal to voters to exercise their franchise.”