The BJP is likely to retain the Capital’s three municipal corporations, exit polls predicted after Sunday’s vote that registered a turnout of 53.6% — a notch higher than the city’s 2012 civic elections.
The votes will be counted on April 26, but the outcome is billed to have a wider impact on the city’s politics, rather than merely being restricted to which party captures power at the Civic Centre, the municipal headquarters.
After more than half of the city’s 13.2 million voters cast their vote, pollsters predicted a BJP win and a neck-and-neck fight between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress for the second spot.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s party made all efforts to unseat the BJP, which have been ruling the east, north and south municipal corporations for the past decade.
But the AAP, ruling Delhi after winning 67 of the 70 assembly seats in the 2015 state elections, faced setbacks ahead of the high-stakes municipal polls.
For the Congress — out of power at the Centre, city and its civic agencies — the polls were a platform to restore its political relevance in its former stronghold.
Voting for all but two of the 272 seats were held across the three corporations. Election was cancelled in Maujpur ward in the east and Sarai Pipal Thala in the north because of the death of a candidate in each. Bypolls will be held in May, state election commission officials said.
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.
Exit polls predicted a huge BJP majority.
An exit poll by Aaj Tak and India Today TV called the election for BJP. The India Today exit poll predicted about 80 seats for BJP in North and South corporations and 50 seats in East corporation. AAP is predicted to be far behind in the second place in all three corporations, according to the poll, just ahead of the Congress.
Exit poll by ABP News predicted a huge win for BJP in all the three municipal corporations with AAP a distant second. They give the BJP 88 out of 104 seats in North, 83 out of 104 in South and 47 out of 64 in East. In the overall tally, the ABP News poll gave BJP 218 seats out of 272 seats, AAP 24 and Congress 22.
What the Axis India-Today exit poll predicts
What the ABP News C-Voter exit poll predicts
Even as fewer than expected people came out to exercise their franchise, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who was among one of the early voters, questioned the State Election Commission over its preparedness for the polls.
“Reports from all over Delhi of EVM malfunction, people wid voter slips not allowed to vote. What is SEC doing? (sic)” Kejriwal tweeted.
The poll panel, however, clarified that only three such complaints were received and all faulty EVMs were immediately replaced.
“Each returning officer is given four-five extra EVMs as a precautionary measure. As and when, any error is reported, the EVM is replaced immediately. We had received complaints of malfunctioning from three areas in the morning where EVMs were changed,” said a senior SEC official.
Former Delhi minister and BJP leader Arvind Singh Lovely also could not cast his vote as there were some problems in the EVMs at the polling booth in East Azad Nagar area.
“I reached the polling station at 8 am. However, I could not vote as the EVM was not working and I had to leave due to some urgent work. I will go later to cast my vote,” he said.
By the high standard set by the mercury this season, the city was comparatively cooler at 39.14 degrees Celsius on Sunday. New Delhi has been recording above-40 temperatures this April.
Going by the turnouts in previous civic polls since 1997, Sunday’s turnout was the highest to date. In 2012, the turnout was 53.23%, officials said.
Experts said it was difficult to describe the turnout as high or low.
“Over the past years, all other states have witnessed an increasing trend in voter turnout in every election. In that context, the turnout in the MCD polls could be seen as a dip when compared to the Delhi assembly and general elections,” said Sanjay Kumar of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).
The city recorded 67.14 % polling in the 2015 assembly elections, and 65.09% in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.