Delhi records 26.3 per cent voter turnout till 1 pm

New Delhi: Delhi is voting on Saturday for its 70-member assembly as over 1.47 crore voters face the choice of re-electing the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government or replacing it with the BJP or the Congress. The Delhi election marks the end of a bitter face-off that saw exceptionally coarse language and communally-charged attacks.
Tight security arrangements are in place across the national capital with extra vigil in south-east Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, where a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) is going on for nearly two months, and other sensitive areas. As of 1 pm, the voter turnout was recorded at 26.3 per cent. Votes will be counted on Tuesday.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP went into the election with the tough task of matching its 2015 tally, when it won 67 of 70 seats in an unprecedented sweep. Kejriwal fronted his campaign with his work on fixing the city’s hospitals and schools and promising a host of new welfare measures. After voting in the morning, Kejriwal made a special appeal to women to come out in large numbers and vote.
Determined to unseat Kejriwal is the BJP, which hopes to build on its performance in the 2019 parliamentary polls when it won all seven Lok Sabha seats. The party, which has not yet named a contender for the Chief Minister’s job, has called Kejriwal a “terrorist” who makes false promises and sides with “anti-national” elements. Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said “vibrations” and “sixth sense” told him his party would come to power in the capital.
The Congress, which ruled Delhi for 15 years before being decimated by the AAP, has led a relatively lacklustre campaign. The party’s top leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have barely campaigned for its candidates.
The bitterly-fought high-octane campaign, involving nearly 700 candidates, ended at 6 pm on Thursday. The poll will be the BJP’s first electoral test since deadly protests erupted nearly two months ago over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which is accused of violating India’s secular constitution and discriminating against Muslims.
Tight security arrangements have been made across the national capital with the police and paramilitary personnel covering the election. Nearly 2,700 polling stations with over 13,000 voting booths have been set up.
In the 2015 assembly polls, the AAP had won 54.3 per cent of the vote, while the BJP got 32 per cent and the Congress managed just 9.6 per cent. While the AAP won 67 seats in 2015, since then the party has conceded one seat to the BJP in a bypoll and six of its lawmakers have been disqualified over joining other parties.