An estimated 1.48 crore people of Delhi will be eligible to exercise their franchise when they elect a new 70-member assembly for the city-state tomorrow at the end of a high-octane and sharply-polarised campaign over protests against amended citizenship law (CAA).
In their final push as the curtains came down electioneering yesterday evening, the three key parties in the battle—ruling Aam Aadmi Party and its principal challengers Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress made last- ditch efforts to slug it out over issues ranging from CAA and livelihood issues, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
In the previous assembly poll in 2015, AAP had made a clean sweep winning 67 of the 70 assembly seats in Delhi leaving just three for BJP. Congress drew a blank.
During the entire campaign, the three parties had deployed their top leaders for the Delhi assembly poll whose results are important more for their prestige than political heft. Voters of Delhi elect just seven lawmakers to the Lok Sabha and so do not have much of a role to decide which party will rule India.
The BJP began the campaign with a focus on the development work done by the Modi government for the national capital but later changed course and made Shaheen Bagh, the epicentre of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest near Jamia Millia University in Muslim-majority Okhla assembly constituency in southeast Delhi, its main poll plank.
The 24-hour sit-in protest lasting for more than a month led by a group of women and their children in the biting cold of Delhi has become the face of countrywide protests against CAA. The BJP has been branding all opposition to the CAA as being against national interest per se.
Modi addressed two rallies while Amit Shah addressed many more and undertook door-to-door campaign. BJP President J P Nadda and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath were also in full throttle over the Shaheen Bagh protest.
The campaign plunged to a new low in bitterness when federal minister Anurag Thakur had, at a rally, egged the crowd to say 'shoot the traitors', and the party's West Delhi lawmaker Parvesh Verma made a controversial statement on Shaheen Bagh protesters.
Both Thakur and Verma were banned by the Election Commission from campaigning for 72 and 96 hours respectively and ordered by the poll body to be dropped from the party's star campaigner's list. On Wednesday, Verma was barred from campaigning for a second time, our correspondent also reports.
While the BJP focused on high-pitched campaign stoking nationalistic and Hindutva sentiments, AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, a former revenue service officer who quit government job to join politics six years ago, sought to woo voters projecting his government’s achievements in like providing cheap water and power and setting up neighbourhood health centres and improving school education.
The Congress' look failed to match the vigour of its opponents in the campaign and former prime minister Manmohan Singh. Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra addressed just a few public meetings.
The BJP won all seven Lok Sabha seats in the national capital in the 2019 national elections with its overall vote share at an overwhelming 57%. The AAP finished third in terms of vote share. The BJP also controls all the three municipal corporations to which polls were held in 2017.