MCD elections: Exit polls predict BJP landslide, rout for AAP

The Asian Age.

Metros, Delhi

Congress too faces debacle but Ajay Maken puts up a brave front.

Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia with his wife before casting vote in East Delhi on Sunday. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The race for the three municipal bodies in the national capital turned interesting with exit polls predicting a clean sweep for the Bharatiya Janata Party and the rout for the Aam Aadmi Party, barely two years after the party registered a rise to power in Delhi. The exit polls predicted a jump in the vote share of the Congress but a steep decline in vote percentage polled by the AAP, which had won 67 of the 70 Assembly seats in 2015. Braving intense heat, over 54 per cent voters exercised their franchise on Sunday to pick councillors for the three municipal bodies, in a high-pitched contest between the three main contenders — the BJP, Congress and the AAP on 270 wards in the national capital.

The exit polls have predicted that the BJP could be headed for a landslide victory with over 200 of the 270 wards where polling was held. Going by the projected figures, the AAP could well be staring at a rout on its home turf, while the Congress’ attempt to regain ground may come a cropper.

According to the India Today-Axis exit poll, the BJP may bag anything between 202 and 220 seats, while the AAP and the Congress will score something around 23-35 and 19-31 respectively. The CVoter-ABP exit poll claimed the BJP was likely to sweep Delhi with 218 seats, limiting the AAP and the Congress to 24 and 22 seats respectively. Meanwhile, the State Election Commission has issued notices to the two private news channels who aired the exit polls.

The battle saw heavyweights from the parties campaigning for their respective parties for the civic polls. Both Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and state Congress head Ajay Maken adopted a cautious approach on the exit polls saying that the real picture will emerge on the counting day on April 26. Ecstatic over the party’s electrifying performance, the state unit of the BJP turned into a celebratory mode after the polls. The party workers went around distributing sweets to each other. The civic elections are also crucial as both the Congress and the AAP have been aggressively campaigning in the Muslim dominated pockets as the community had voted en-mass for AAP in the Assembly Elections. The elections were crucial as geographical boundaries of a majority of the wards has been reworked after the delimitation process.

Around 54 per cent turnout was recorded till late evening, with East Delhi leading the tally with over 55 per cent turnout. The voter turnout in north and south were over 54 per cent and 50 per cent respectively. The total voter turnout in 2012 municipal elections was 53.23 per cent. “Lado Sarai in south recorded the least turnout of 39.14 per cent, while the maximum turnout was recorded in Bakhtawarpur in north,” State Election Commissioner S.K. Srivastava, responding to the faulty EVMs, said that out of 13,000 machines, 18 were changed. “The EVMs have functioned properly, establishing that they are robust and unbreakable,” he said adding that the faulty machines accounted only for 1.4 per cent of the total.

The balloting was peaceful but both voters and political parties reported numerous cases of malfunctioning EVMs. Even as the polling was on, Delhi CM said reports of EVM malfunctioning came from all over the city. He also tweeted that many people with voter slips were not allowed to vote.

DPCC president Ajay Maken, with his daughter, arrives to cast his vote at Rajouri Garden. (Photo: Asian Age)

BJP leader Arvinder Singh Lovely, who recently quit the Congress, could not vote because the EVM in his polling station in East Azad Nagar area broke down.

 “I reached the polling station at 8 am. However, I could not vote, as the EVM was not working so I had to leave due to some urgent work. I will go later and cast my vote,” Mr Lovely said. There were complaints about faulty EVMs in North Delhi Burari area and South West Delhi’s Kapashera due to which voting had to be stopped for a few minutes.

The AAP, which rules Delhi, and the Congress want to end the ten-year reign of the BJP in the civic body, citing poor upkeep of the city’s cleanliness.

The BJP used Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to reclaim the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (104 seats), South Delhi Municipal Corporation (104 seats) and East Delhi Municipal Corporation (64 seats).

By 3 pm, the AAP’s “War Room” reported 250 calls from voters complaining about non-functional EVMs. The complaints came from several areas including Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia’s constituency Patparganj.

A Maharashtra Congress leader, Shehzad Poonawala, tweeted about the EVMs in Delhi: “Better we call them (E)extremely (V)vulnerable (M)machines.” A total of 2,537 candidates were in the fray.

Lieutenant governor Anil Baijal, Mr Kejriwal, Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken and Delhi BJP leaders were among the early voters. “I urge the people of Delhi to vote for a filth-free Delhi, a dengue- and chikungunya-free Delhi,” Mr Kejriwal said after voting along with his family.

Mr Maken rooted for his party. “The BJP has done enough damage for 10 years. The only thing it has done is engage in verbal duels with the AAP. People want sensible governance. Going by Congress’ track record, they will vote for us,” he said.

BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi blamed the Kejriwal government for the capital mess and said she was confident her party would again control the civic body.

Among others who contested the civic polls this year include the Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal-United and Swaraj India of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan who were earlier Mr Kejriwal’s colleagues in the AAP.

The three civic bodies cover 68 of the 70 assembly constituencies in Delhi. The two smaller civic bodies are the Delhi Cantonment Board as well as the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC).