An upbeat national Capital would go to polls for its seven parliamentary constituencies on Thursday. Over 1.2 crore voters will exercise their franchise to elect their representatives for the 16th Lok Sabha. The election is very significant as it would be a test of BJP’s claim of “Modi wave” in Delhi and the possibility of Congress’ resurrection after its drubbing in recent Assembly polls. But more importantly, it will be a litmus test for the Aam Aadmi Party, which according to the opinion polls, is losing ground to the BJP after it failed to deliver its poll promises in its 49-day rule in Delhi.
Polling will be held at 11,763 booths out of which 327 have been declared critical and 90 hyper-critical. Voting will start at 7 am and will continue till 6 pm. It is for the first time that Delhi is witnessing a three-way contest for Lok Sabha polls. Although Delhi has only seven Lok Sabha seats, election results carry significance due to its political symbolism. A total of 150 candidates, including 58 Independents, are in the poll fray. For the AAP, the election assumes greater importance as it will assess whether the party has been able to retain the support of people. Kejriwal has been facing severe criticism for quitting the Government after 49 days, and both the Congress and the BJP had mounted a shrill attack on Kejriwal accusing him of running away from responsibilities.
The Congress, which won all seven seats in the 2009, is pulling out all stops to regain voters’ trust after its debacle in the Assembly elections, while the BJP is hopeful of major gains at the cost of the AAP and the Congress. Led by its prime ministerial candidate and star campaigner Narendra Modi, the BJP has taken on the Congress over the issues of corruption, good governance, dwindling economy, terrorism and women’s safety. The top hierarchy of the BJP, including Modi, LK Advani, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, carried out whirlwind campaign in the Capital in support of its candidates. “Your vote for our seven candidates in Delhi is a vote for me. Vote for them and help me build a strong and prosperous India,” Modi appealed to the people.
The Congress’ campaign, on the other hand, remained confined to its president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who held one rally each in the city for their candidates. The BJP is banking on division of Muslim and Jat and dalit votes in Chandni Chowk, South Delhi, North East and North-West Delhi.
In the prestigious Chandni Chowk constituency, Union Minister Kapil Sibal is facing a tough fight from BJP’s Harsh Vardhan and journalist-turn-politician Ashutosh of the AAP. In East Delhi, incumbent MP Sandeep Dikshit is pitted against BJP’s Maheish Girri and AAP’s Rajmohan Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. A tough triangular contest is in the offing in the high-profile New Delhi constituency where Congress general secretary Ajay Maken is facing two first-time contenders in BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi and Ashish Khaitan of the AAP.
An interesting battle is on the cards among BJP’s Udit Raj, AAP’s Rakhi Birla and Congress’ Krishna Tirath in North West Delhi. Dalits which constitue over 20 per cent votes may hold sway in the seat. In South Delhi, BJP candidate Ramesh Bidhuri is taking on AAP’s Devinder Sehrawat and Congress’ Ramesh Kumar. The BJP has fielded Bhojpuri singer Manoj Tiwari in Poorvanchali dominated North East Delhi against AAP’s Anand Kumar and Congress’ JP Agarwal.
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