NEW DELHI: It was the most anxious night for the candidates and senior leaders as the counting for one of the most keenly fought electoral battles in recent times begins on Tuesday. Though the counting will be over in five hours, its results may have wider political significance across the country.
The Election Commission has made adequate security arrangements at the counting centres to ensure a hassle-free vote counting. “Counting of votes will start at 8 am and all the results should be out by 1 pm,” an Election Commission official said. The battle to win control over the city saw a resurgent Aam Aadmi Party giving a tough fight to the BJP.
Though exit polls have given the AAP a decisive edge over the BJP with one of them giving it as high as 53 seats in the 70-member House, the saffron leaders exuded confidence of wresting power in Delhi after a gap of 16 years. The party said it would get 34-38 seats. Senior party leaders held a series of meetings on the outcome of the results and even their strategy for media as their army of spokespersons were ready to appear in TV news debates. Moreover, many senior BJP leaders would not be in Delhi as they would attend the wedding ceremony of party president Amit Shah’s son in Ahmedabad on Tuesday evening.
The AAP too had made elaborate arrangements at the party office with giant screens. A minor controversy erupted as a Facebook page - CM’s Office - with the AAP’s official logo appeared even before the results had been declared. A record 67.14 per cent turnout was recorded in the polls on Saturday in which a total of 673 candidates sought mandate. Polling had taken place at 12,177 polling stations, of which 714 have been identified “critical”. Of these, 191 are “highly critical”.
The BJP, which is out of power in Delhi for the last 16 years, made a gamble by bringing in former Team Anna member Kiran Bedi into the party and made her its Chief Ministerial candidate which is said to have triggered discontent among the party leaders, irrespective of rank and file. The BJP strategy has been countered by the Kejriwal-led AAP, which put up a spirited campaign in a bid to stop the Modi juggernaut that has been on a roll ever since the Lok Sabha electoral victory in May last year.
The Congress, which had ruled Delhi for 15 years till 2013, has been projected to get at most five seats.