The assembly elections in the national capital started on Saturday morning, with the Delhiites all set to vote for their eighth Chief Minister.
Amid the ongoing anti-CAA protests, Jamia violence row and JNU students protest, security has been heightened and about 75,000 personnel of the Delhi Police, paramilitary forces and home guards will be deployed across the national capital when Delhi votes on Saturday to elect a new assembly.
With Parliament located in the heart of New Delhi, elections in the city have always been considered a big deal.
A total of 672 candidates are contesting this election from 70 Assembly constituencies across the capital. They include 593 male and 79 female candidates.
The Election Commission has issued Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC) to 1,47,86,382 voters. The elections will be conducted in 13750 polling stations across the city in one single phase.
The elections will be held on February 8 and the counting will commence on February 11.
A brief look at the 2015 elections
The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) swept the election with a landslide majority. It won a total of 67 seats and the BJP was reduced to only three seats while the Congress drew a blank.
In 2015, the AAP emerged with 54.3 per cent of the vote share. The BJP was second with 32.3 per cent and the Congress trailed with a poor 9.7 per cent.
Previous Chief Ministers of Delhi
The city has seen seven Chief Ministers till now. Chaudhary Brahm Prakash Yadav of the Congress held the post from 1952 to 1955 and was succeeded by Gurmukh Nihal Singh before the post was abolished for 37 years. Madan Lal Khurana of the BJP was elected as the third Chief Minister in 1993 followed by BJP leaders Sahib Singh Verma and Sushma Swaraj who ruled the capital for a short period in 1998.
It was in 1998 that people voted for Congress' Sheila Dikshit, who remained in power for three consecutive terms (15 years) to become the longest-serving CM of the capital.
However, in 2015, her reign was ended by Arvind Kejriwal who stormed to power on the back of an anti-corruption campaign.
Key contenders and constituencies
AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will face off against BJP’s Sunil Kumar Yadav—a youth leader—and Congress’ Romesh Sabharwal.
Sitting MLA and deputy CM Manish Sisodia will once again try his hand from this seat. He will be contesting against BJP’s Ravinder Singh Negi and Congress’ Laxman Rawat.
BJP leader Kapil Mishra will be contesting against sitting MLA and AAP leader Akhilesh Pati Tripathi. Akanksha Ola of the Congress is also in the fray.
From here, AAP leader Atishi is standing against BJP’s Dharamvir Singh and Congress’ Shivani Chopra.
The constituency saw some violent clashes between anti-CAA protesters and the Delhi Police. AAP leader Rajendra Pal Gautam had won this seat in 2015. This year he will fight against LJP’s Sant Lal and Congress’ Veer Singh Dhingan.
The constituency is set for a fight between the AAP's Naveen Choudhary, BJP's Anil Vajpai and Arvinder Lovely of the Congress.
A few other key constituencies to look out for are Chandini Chowk, Malviya Nagar, Okhla, Rajinder Nagar and Hari Nagar.
High voltage rallies
In battleground Delhi, parties were seen going all out to woo voters -- from the AAP's 'Lage Raho Kejriwal' campaign to the BJP's anti-incumbency slogans.
On the last day of the campaign, Home Minister Amit Shah took out three roadshows at Seelampur in northeast Delhi and Hari Nagar and Madipur in west Delhi.
BJP president J P Nadda held a roadshow at Mundka. Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari held roadshows in Ghonda, Timarpur and Rajouri Garden.
On the other hand, the AAP led a 'positive campaign' and asked voters to vote for the work they have done. Roping in poll strategist Prashant Kishor ahead of the elections, the party held massive roadshows, rallies, flash mobs and strong social media campaigns to attract voters.
Congress without Sheila Dikshit
This is the first time the Congress fought without party stalwart Sheila Dikshit. The former CM ruled the capital for three consecutive terms and is still called the 'most loved chief minister' of the city.
Relying on the legacy of the late Sheila Dikshit, the Congress has campaigned on the slogan 'Phir se Congress wali Delhi'.
Sheila Dikshit was defeated by Arvind Kejriwal from her constituency New Delhi in 2015 putting the Congress out of the Delhi race.
The Congress, which ruled the national capital for three consecutive terms from 1998 to 2013, is for the first time contesting the Delhi assembly polls in alliance with another party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
Key issues in the election
While the narrative of the election saw a tilt towards national issues particularly the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR), the main issues in the national capital still remain the demand for full statehood by the AAP, air pollution, electricity, water, illegal colonies, education and health care.
The Jamia and JNU violence also put the Delhi Police, which comes under the Home Ministry, in a bad light raising the issue of security in the city.
None of the parties, except the AAP, have announced their chief ministerial candidate which has worked in favour of Arvind Kejriwal who is seeking a second term. The BJP and Congress, on the other hand, have not declared an official CM face.
CM candidates for Delhi Elections.— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) February 5, 2020
AAP BJP Cong pic.twitter.com/ZYfRkyIvk2
The polling is expected to begin by 8 am on February 8 and end by 5 pm. In a bid to encourage a high voter turnout, the Election Commission took several measures. The Delhi Metro will also ply from 4.00 am for easier accessibility to booths.
The JNU and Jamia violence, Shaheen Bagh protests and 'Goli Maaro' controversy have hogged the headlines in the run-up to the polls. Now, the wait is for February 11 to see who the 'Dilli wale' choose.