Exit polls have predicted that the BJP will retain Delhi’s three municipal corporations, voting for which was held on Sunday. The counting for the 270 wards across the three civic bodies is on April 26 for the election billed by rivals as a referendum on two years of the Arvind Kerjriwal government.
Five things about Delhi’s civic polls that have generated a lot of interest:
BJP sweep predicted
Exit polls have predicted a huge BJP win. An exit poll by India Today gives about 80 seats each to the party in north and south corporations and 50 in the east corporation. The AAP is predicted to be far behind in the second place in all three corporations, marginally ahead of the Congress.
ABP News, too, has forecast a big victory for BJP, with AAP a distant second. It gives the BJP 88 of 104 seats in the north, 83 of 104 in the south and 47 of 64 in the east. In total, the poll gives BJP 218 seats, AAP 24 and Congress 22.
Election was cancelled in Maujpur in the east and Sarai Pipal Thala in the north because of the death of a candidate in each of the two wards. Voting in these two areas would be held in May, state election commission officials have said.
Glass half full?
Almost half of Delhi’s voters stayed away from polling, with the city recording a turnout of 53.6% — a notch higher than the 2012 civic election. After a slow start, voting picked up later in the day, especially in the evening. When the polls closed, more than half of the city’s 13.2 million voters had exercised their franchise.
Going by civic poll turnouts since 1997, Sunday’s was the highest. In 2012, 53.23% of the electorate cast their vote. Of the three corporations, the east recorded the highest turnout of 55%, followed by the north’s 54% and the south’s 50%.
“We were targeting a turnout of 60%. We made all efforts to encourage the voters, but the heat seems to have pulled down the numbers. But even 54% is a good turnout,” state election commissioner SK Srivastava said.
The MCD election goes beyond choosing municipal councillors who will look into Delhi’s civic problems.
The BJP sought votes in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his “vision for Delhi”, an indication of how important the election is for the saffron party.
If results do match exit polls, it will not only give the BJP fresh ammunition to take on archrival AAP but will also help the party put behind the assembly poll humiliation.
For the Congress, which stunned Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab, the election is an opportunity to make a comeback in the city it governed for 15 straight years before being relegated to the margins.
The AAP, which is still to recover from the poll loss in Punjab where it started as the favourite, a drubbing in the civic election half way into its term will be a big blow, a sign of drop in the popularity of the party that came to power with a historic mandate.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal kept up his anti-EVM tirade on the polling day as well, questioning the state election commission over reports of machines malfunctioning in parts of the city.
The poll panel, however, said it received 18 complaints of glitches, which was “normal”, and those were rectified immediately.
Of the 18 complaints, five were received from north Delhi, eight from the south and five from the east, state election commissioner SK Srivastava said.
Kejriwal alleged that people with voter slips were turned away from polling booths. “Reports from all over Delhi of EVM malfunction, people with voter slips not allowed to vote. What is State EC doing?” tweeted Kejriwal.
What people want
Delhi residents’ expectations are not too high. They want the civic bodies to get the basics right. Sanitation is a big concern and garbage collection continues to be a problem. Lack of dustbins, irregular cleaning of roads and dumping of waste are some of the voters’ complaints.
Poor quality of roads is another grouse.
With dengue and chikungunya outbreaks getting more frequent and deadlier, residents blame the civic authorities for failing to check mosquito breeding. Voters are also unanimous in saying that the civic bodies had failed to create adequate parking facilities in the city, which has the highest density of vehicles in the country.