Polling time for Delhi civic polls ends
The BJP has been in charge of the MCD for a decade now, and is eyeing a third consecutive term. In photo: Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his family cast their votes. Photograph: (ANI)
Polling for the keenly-watched Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) began across 272 wards of the three civic bodies at 8 am today.
Around 54 per cent voting was recorded in the Municipal polls, according to State Election Commissioner SK Srivastava.
The BJP -- which has dominated the MCD for a decade and is eyeing a third consecutive term -- the ruling Aam Aadmi Party, and the Congress had roped in top leaders for wooing voters.
The civic polls are crucial for the AAP, which lost a recent by-election in the national capital to the BJP and fared poorly in the Punjab and Goa assembly elections.
Kejriwal's former party colleague Yogendra Yadav, who now leads the Swaraj India, wrote an open letter to the chief minister and challenged him to win at least 50 per cent seats in the civic polls or step down. Swaraj India is making its debut in the MCD elections along with the Janata Dal (United).
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia and Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal were among the first to cast their votes.
Kejriwal appealed the people to come out in large numbers and vote for a "Dengue and Chikungunya free" Delhi.
Manish Sisodia appealed to the people to come and vote for his party and "help the national capital fight corruption".
Despite losing prominent leaders like Arvinder Singh Lovely and Barkha Shukla Singh to the BJP, the Congress is upbeat about winning the polls. The party said on Sunday that "misrule" of the BJP and the breach of promises by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal are factors which will lead to its success.
"We are expecting very good results. People are fed up with the BJP rule, where it has miserably failed. So, the BJP is not in the favourable list as far as people are concerned. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is almost written off by the people because after the Rajouri Garden elections, it is evident that people have rejected the party. The breach of promises by Kejriwal and misrule of the BJP are before the people of Delhi. People will also remember the good old days when the Congress had provided very good administration in the corporation. So, we are fairly hopeful that we will get a good response from the people of Delhi," Congress leader PC Chacko told ANI.
The None Of The Above (NOTA) option was available to voters for the first time.
The elections will be held after the latest delimitation exercise that has restructured the civic wards.
The Delhi Election Commission has set up over 13,000 polling booths, out of which over 3,000 have been identified as sensitive while around 1,500 as hypersensitive.
Nearly 57, 000 police personnel have been deployed to ensure free and fair polls in the national capital.
The Delhi Government has ordered a dry day to avoid any untoward incidents during elections. No alcohol will be sold in restaurants, bars, and stores, to be observed in the national capital on Saturday until 5:30 pm Sunday night.
Counting will take place on April 26.
(WION with inputs from agencies)