AGENCIES, New Delhi: Most of Delhi remained indoors on polling day with the voting figures touching an abysmally low of just over 45 per cent. The figure in the 2015 Assembly polls was 51 per cent. This is despite the fact that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is up against the BJP, has time and again appealed to voters to turn up in large numbers at polling booths.
The low turnout culminates a bitter campaign in which poll rhetoric touched a new low. Tight security arrangements has been in place across the national capital, its emphasis on sensitive areas like south-east Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, where a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has been going on for nearly two months.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP went into the election with the tough task of matching its 2015 tally, when it won 67 of 70 seats in an unprecedented sweep. Kejriwal ran the AAP campaign with his work on fixing the city’s hospitals and schools and promising a host of new welfare measures. After voting on Saturday morning, the Delhi CM made a special appeal to women to come out in large numbers and vote.
The BJP is hoping to build on its spectacular performance in the 2019 parliamentary polls when it won all the seven Lok Sabha seats from Delhi. The party, which has not yet named a contender for the chief minister’s post, has called Kejriwal a “terrorist” who makes false promises and sides with “anti-national” elements. Just after casting his vote, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said his “sixth sense” told him his party would come to power in the capital.
The Congress, which ruled Delhi for 15 years before being decimated by the AAP, has led a relatively lacklustre campaign. The party’s top leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have barely campaigned for its candidates.
The high octane campaign, involving nearly 700 candidates, ended at 6 pm on Thursday. The poll will be the BJP’s first electoral test since huge protests erupted nearly two months ago over the controversial CAA, which its critics say, violates India’s secular constitution and discriminating against Muslims.