Delhi votes in a crucial election

The Feb 11 outcome may push or reset the CAA-NRC agenda which dominated campaign

GN Bureau | February 8, 2020


#CAA   #Congress   #BJP   #Amit Shah   #Narendra Modi   #AAP   #Aam Aadmi Pary   #Arvind Kejriwal   #election   #Delhi   #NRC   #assembly  
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted this photo of his family after casting their vote. (Photo courtesy @AamAadmiParty)
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted this photo of his family after casting their vote. (Photo courtesy @AamAadmiParty)

Delhi is voting today in a high-stakes assembly elections that have virtually been projected as a referendum on the CAA-NRC debate, which from the BJP dominated the high-decibel campaign. The ruling AAP, which created history of sorts in 2015 by winning 67 of the 70 seats, has been apparently neutral on the burning issue and is asking people to vote on the basis of its performance, especially in the key areas of education, health, water and electricity.

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The BJP, led by prime minister Narendra Modi who addressed two rallies and home minister Amit Shah who addressed several, has singularly focused on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), apart from other “nationalist” issues like the abrogation of Section 370 relating to Jammu and Kashmir.

The vitriolic campaign saw repeated references to Shaheen Bagh, a locality in south Delhi, where anti-CAA-NRC protests led by Muslim women and supported by sections of civil society have been going on since mid-December. For the BJP, it has been a battle for prestige as inspite of the nationwide popularity of the prime minister, the party has not been able to win in the capital during his term -- indeed, the party is out of power here since 1998.

A disheartened Congress is the third major contender, but its top leadership, as in 2015, largely remained absent from campaigning. At state level, it has been led by Subhash Chopra, who was named president after the demise of Sheila Dikshit – a three-term chief minister whom the party remembered in its election publicity, seeking votes in her name.

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal cast his vote in the morning. For the BJP, the state leadership includes party unit president Manoj Tiwari, though it has refrained from naming any chief ministerial candidate, solely banking on the perceived popularity of the prime minister himself.

The national capital territory of Delhi (NCTD) is going to assembly elections on February 8, and the results will be out on February 11. Now that the candidates have filed their nominations, here is an overview of electors and contenders.

The AAP is the only party to have fielded candidates in each of the 70 constituencies. According to the Election Commission, a total of 1,47,86,382 (Males: 81,05,236, females: 66,80,277, others: 869), electors are eligible to vote. Votes will be counted on February 11. The assembly’s term expires on February 22.

In 2015, Kejriwal’s AAP had bucked the trend, and defeated a BJP led by Narendra Modi within months of the historic 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The AAP sweep created a record of sorts, winning 67 of the 70 seats. In the previous year’s elections, it had won only 28 seats against the BJP’s 31, and had come to power with the help of the Congress (8). The party did not fare well outside the state, when it sought to contest elections in Haryana. Its performance in 2019 Lok Sabha elections was poor, coming third after the Congress.

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