NEW DELHI :
ASSEMBLY elections in Delhi will be held on February 8 in what promises to be a high stake triangular contest with the AAP hoping to retain power on the plank of development and the BJP and the Congress determined to put up a spirited challenge. Announcing the 1-day poll for the 70-member Assembly, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora told a news conference on Monday that counting of votes will be taken up on February 11. The notification for the polls will be issued on January 14 while the last date of withdrawal of candidates will be January 24, Arora said. With the issuance of the notification, the nomination process will commence.
Responding to a question on the law and order situation in the national capital, the Chief Election Commissioner said, “I won’t say we (the Commission) are very sanguine, but we are hopeful that they (police) will be able to control the situation (and make it) conducive for polls.” “And in any case in the polling process, if there is some kind of an extra-ordinary situation, always (there) are provisions for kind of deferring the polls. All these provisions are there. The Constitution empowers ECI to take a call if needed,” he said. Over 1.46 crore voters can exercise their franchise, according to the final electoral roll published on Monday. There are total 1,46,92,136 voters -- 80,55,686 males, 66,35,635 females and 815 belonging to third gender -- in the final voters list.
All voters will be provided QR code-enabled voters slip which will speed up voting through easy identification. This time Delhi will have 13,659 polling stations as compared to 11,763 in 2014, a jump of 16.89 per cent, according to an EC press note. The Commission has decided to extend the facility of postal ballot for “absentee voters”, people with disability and those above 80 years of age in all 70 assembly constituencies.
Shortly after the poll schedule was announced, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to the people of Delhi to “vote for us (AAP) only if you think we have done good work in the last five years”. In the 2015 polls, Kejriwal led the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to an unprecedented victory with his fledgling party bagging 67 seats, leaving just three seats for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Congress drew a blank. Kejriwal said that the AAP would seek votes on the work done by its Government in the last five years. “If I have done work, then vote for me.
If I have not done work, then don’t vote for me,” the AAP chief told reporters. Kejriwal said that the AAP will run a “positive campaign” and not abuse anyone. The AAP is banking on its populist schemes like free power to households for up to 200 units of consumption, free water and free bus ride for women besides its work to boost education and health facilities. The BJP for its part is hopeful that the Modi Government’s decision to confer ownership rights to occupants of unauthorised colonies will help it win over the poor living there, seen as a support base of the AAP. The party says, the decision will benefit up to five million people. The BJP is also expected to make the CAA a poll plank.
Union Minister Prakash Javdekar said that the polls will be fought on the basis of performance, and not “lies and hollow talks”. The Congress said that it is prepared for the polls and will run an “aggressive” campaign. “We are prepared and will run an aggressive campaign, which will compare the works done by Congress Government in the past and the current Government,” said Kirti Azad.