67% voting in Delhi; Narendra Modi may face first electoral defeat as PM
An estimated 67% turnout was recorded on Saturday in the crucial Delhi assembly polls, where Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were locked in a battle royale, outcome of which may have ramifications on the national political landscape.
The assembly election, held for the second time in little over one year, has been largely a direct contest between BJP and a resurgent AAP, which has put up a tough fight under Arvind Kejriwal’s leadership.
All the exit polls have predicted a majority for the AAP, with one of them giving it as high as 53 seats in the 70-member House. The elections are being considered significant, as a victory for BJP will increase its confidence ahead of assembly polls in Bihar later this year and in West Bengal in 2016, while a defeat may bolster the opposition.
The BJP, which is out of power in Delhi for the last 16 years, made a no-holds-barred effort to win the polls. It is being billed by many as a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a description rejected by the BJP.
Kejriwal, who led AAP’s spirited campaign, exuded confidence of getting a clear mandate for his party as he said on Saturday, “truth will triumph” in the polls. “I am confident that AAP will win the elections and form government in Delhi,” he said.
His BJP rival Kiran Bedi rejected the exit poll results carried out by various news channels, even as she spoke of taking “full responsibility” if her party suffers a loss.
Addressing a press conference, a visibly exhausted Bedi also thanked BJP for reposing “faith” in her, wondering what the party “saw in her”.
In 2013, AAP had got 28 seats, having to had to tie up with Congress’ eight to form a short-lived government of 49 days in the 2013 polls. The BJP had then emerged the single largest party with 32 seats.
Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi, Union ministers Harsh Vardhan and Maneka Gandhi, Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, Congress’ Ajay Maken and BJP’s Varun Gandhi were among the early voters.
When asked about the polls, the Congress president said, “Whatever the people want will happen.” The Congress’ face for Delhi polls Ajay Maken said his party will never extend or take support from AAP. “We will never ever give support to AAP again,” he said, adding, “I am hopeful that Congress is going to do exceedingly well and we are going to form government on our own.”