New Delhi: The polling for the 70-member Delhi Assembly got underway this morning, an election that saw the ruling AAP, opposition BJP and the Congress engaged in a bitterly fought high-octane campaign.
Over 1.47 crore people are eligible to exercise their franchise in the polls that will decide the fate of 672 candidates. The polling began at 8 am and will end at 6 pm, an official said.
Security forces kept a tight watch across the 70 constituencies, with police and paramilitary personnel keeping an “extra vigil” in sensitive areas like Shaheen Bagh, Jamia Nagar and Seelampuri. There are over 81 lakh male voters, 66.80 lakh female voters, and 869 third-gender voters, Delhi Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Ranbir Singh has said.
Around 2.33 lakh voters are in the age group of 18-19, 2.04 lakh voters are senior citizens aged 80, while there are 11,608 service voters, according to officials.Prominent candidates in the fray include Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia, Atishi and Raghav Chadha of the AAP; four former mayors — Azad Singh, Yogender Chandolia, Ravinder Gupta and Khushi Ram — of the BJP; and Shivani Chopra, daughter of Delhi Congress president Subhash Chopra.
“Please go to cast vote. A special appeal to all the women – As your shoulder the responsibility at home, likewise, the responsibility of the country and Delhi is on your shoulders,” Kejirwal tweeted. “All of you women do cast your vote and take along men with you. Do discuss with men about voting for whom will be right,” the Chief Minister added.
BJP president J P Nadda also appealed to all the voters to vote in large numbers. “Each vote of you is important for the unity and integrity of the country and holistic development of Delhi. Your vote only will be script the golden future of Delhi. ‘Pehle Matdan, Phir Jalpan’. Jai Hind,” Nadda tweeted.
There are 13,750 polling booths, besides one auxiliary booth, located at 2,689 locations across Delhi. “As far as critical polling stations are concerned, there are 516 locations and 3,704 booths in that category,” Singh said.
Besides police security, polling stations falling in the “critical category” have got paramilitary cover. Activities at such stations are being monitored through webcasting, officials said.
All five polling stations in Shaheen Bagh, the epicentre of massive protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, are under critical category. Counting of votes will take place on Tuesday.
The Aam Aadmi Party is hoping to repeat its stellar performance of the last Assembly polls when it won 67 of the 70 seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which bagged all the seven seats in Delhi in the 2019 Lok Sabha poll, is aiming to dislodge the AAP, while the Congress is seeking to better its performance than last time when it drew a blank in the Assembly polls. The AAP had got 54.3 per cent votes in the 2015 polls, while the BJP secured 32 per cent and the Congress bagged just 9.6 per cent.