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Atul Mathur, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, December 03, 2013
Around 12 million people of Delhi will vote on Wednesday in a three-way tug of war, with political greenhorn Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) taking on Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the assembly elections. While the Congress is looking to extend its winning streak with chief minister Sheila Dikshit eyeing a fourth consecutive term, the BJP is keen on ending its 15-year power drought in the national capital.

It is, however, Arvind Kejriwal’s debuting AAP that seems to have stirred the pot. It is expected to dent the vote bank of its political rivals who are veterans in the field.

More than 11.9 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise and select from among 810 candidates in the fray for the 70-member assembly. The BJP has fielded candidates in 66 seats, the Congress and AAP in all 70 constituencies.

While several opinion polls have given the BJP an edge, Dikshit said she was confident of a win.

“We are going into the polls with confidence. I am sure the people of Delhi will vote for a stable government, which only the Congress can provide.” The CM also doesn’t think the AAP — predicted to win 5-20 seats — can put up a tough fight in the assembly polls.

Delhi, it’s time to rise and shine at polling booths

“We are contesting against our traditional opponents, which is BJP,” she said.

The AAP's extensive and focussed grassroots campaign has helped the party to make its presence felt and turn it into a real triangular contest.

With both Dikshit and Kejriwal having filed their nomination from New Delhi, the stage is set for a riveting contest in the prestigious constituency. The BJP has put up its former Delhi unit chief Vijender Gupta for the seat.

Full Coverage: My India My Vote

The polls in Delhi are keenly watched as it is the centre of the country's political power and has, many times in the past, served as a pointer to the Lok Sabha polls.

The BJP has thrown in all its might behind the polls. The party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi held five rallies in the metropolis. According to BJP activists, 230 public meetings were held by its leaders in the past 10 days.

With the assembly polls to be followed by the Lok Sabha elections about six months later and a few of its senior leaders apparently interested in contesting from Delhi in the general elections, the BJP has tried not to leave anything to chance.

A victory in Delhi is crucial for the Congress to balance against its probable loss to the BJP in some other states which have gone to the polls in this round of assembly elections. With a number of surveys having predicted BJP victories in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and a tight race in Chhattisgarh, the Congress is pinning a lot of hopes on winning Delhi.

Read More: floating votes to play major role in outcome, say experts

The elections are crucial for the AAP for its ambitions to expand its base to other parts of the country. A good showing in Delhi will enhance its electoral appeal, while a poor showing could dampen the spirits of its growing rank of supporters, particularly the young, the working class and sections of the middle class.

The Delhi vote concludes the state polls this year. The counting of the ballots cast in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh will take place December 8. The vote count in Mizoram is on December 9.

Read More: Four states have clocked record turnouts, it’s Delhi’s turn to walk the talk

(With IANS inputs)

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