After a fierce triangular battle in the Delhi municipal polls, the stage is now set for counting of votes today with the verdict likely to have political ramifications beyond the national capital’s borders.
Counting will start at 8 AM and the results are likely to be declared by 11 AM today. The high-stakes civic polls were held on April 23 which saw a voter turnout of 53.58 per cent, a shade higher than in the 2012 elections.
“We are all working as per the schedule. All the EVMs have been deposited with due seal and counting will begin at 8 AM. There are 35 counting centres and we are all geared up,” Delhi State Election Commissioner S K Srivastava said yesterday.
The three main players — the AAP, the BJP and the Congress — had campaigned intensely ahead of the polls and all of them are expecting a favourable mandate, even as an exit poll has predicted a “landslide victory” for the saffron party. The verdict is expected to reshape the political equations in the country’s power capital.
The result will also determine whether the sway of Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP, which had stunned all by bagging 67 seats out of 70 in the 2015 Delhi Assembly polls, still holds and whether the party would be able to put behind its humiliating Rajouri Garden by-polls defeat. Kejriwal’s party had also suffered a defeat in Punjab and a whitewash in Goa Assembly polls.
However, the AAP national convener refused to acknowledge the by-elections verdict as a “trailer of the MCD polls”. He had on Monday warned of launching a “movement” if the MCD exit poll results, which have predicted a BJP sweep, come true.
Polling was held in 270 of the 272 wards of the three municipal corporations. The election to two wards has been postponed due to the death of candidates. The BJP, which is seeking to retain the turf it has held for the last 10 years, has fielded fresh faces in 267 wards. It had expelled its Narela ward candidate from the party for allegedly allowing sacked AAP minister Sandeep Kumar to campaign for her.
The final tally of votes came in just before midnight, as a ward in South Delhi witnessed “extremely brisk voting” late in the evening.
As per the records of the Delhi poll commission, the polling percentage in 2012 was 53.43 per cent, which was the highest in 15 years. The 2012 civic polls were also the first election after the trifurcation of the MCD into the NDMC, the SDMC and the EDMC, the same year.
As many as 71,39,994 votes were polled on April 23. South Delhi polled maximum 26,87,685 votes, followed by North Delhi at 26,80,011. East Delhi polled 17,72,298 votes.