After the high-steam civic polls in Mumbai last month, all eyes are now set on the elections to the three municipal corporations in the National Capital, which will be held on 22 April.
While the municipal corporation polls are being seen as a popularity test for the ruling Aam Aadmi Party, they are a prestige issue for the BJP which will be looking to return to power for a third consecutive term. The political exercise will also grab eyeballs due to the political bickering between the Aam Aadmi Party led-Delhi government and the BJP led-Centre and the three civic bodies, both of which have been trading barbs as issues galore.
Important dates, facts and figures
The erstwhile unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi was trifurcated in 2012 — just ahead of the previous election — into North, South and East Municipal Corporation or NDMC, SDMC and EDMC respectively, which the BJP has been ruling since 2007.
Counting for the polls will take place on 25 April while the nomination process will begin from the 27 of this month. 3 April would be the last date for filing nominations and the scrutiny of the nominations filed will take place on 5 April. State Election Commissioner SK Srivastava said that the last date for withdrawal of nomination is 8 April for 272 wards municipal elections.
The much-awaited polls will decide the fate of 272 councillors, with the NDMC and SMDC have 104 seats each, while the EDMC has 64 seats.
The total number of electorate for the civic polls stands at 1,32,10,206, which include 73,15,915 men, 58,93,418 women and 793 voters in the other category, the state election commission said.
With the announcement of the date for MCD polls, the Model Code of Conduct has come into force in the national capital.
Number of seats reserved for woman in North MCD is 42 while in South MCD is 45. East MCD has 27 seats reserved for women. According to the commission, around 17,000 personnel will be deployed for the polls. In North Delhi, 5,170 polling stations will be set up, while in SDMC and EDMC, 5,074 and 2,990 polling stations will be set up respectively.
The State Election Commission said that voters can exercise their franchise after producing photo electoral rolls, electors photo identity cards and photo voter slips. During poll campaigning, loudspeakers will not permitted at night between 10 pm and 6 am.
An election with many firsts
As Delhi prepares to choose its corporators, the elections will mark several firsts. AAP enters the fray for the first time transforming a thus far bipolar election into an intense three-way contest, although it also contested the MCD bypolls in 2016 and surpassed BJP, Congress in performance.
Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan's Swaraj India is another first-time entrant, however, the party's chances remain dim as it is locked in a legal battle with the State Election Commission which has denied to issue a common symbol for its candidates. Swaraj India was floated by Yadav and Bhushan, who were expelled from Aam Aadmi Party after they questioned Arvind Kejriwal's leadership.
This will also be the first time that the voters will be able to exercise the "None of the Above" (NOTA) option.
The State Election Commission has also increased the expenditure limit for a candidate from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 5.75 lakh, at a time when the Congress party is alleging that the BJP has hijacked the thrones of Manipur and Goa using "money power."
Expect high-drama politicking
Even though the electioneering has not started, with BJP yet to announce its candidates, political bickering has started in the high-stake elections.
The upcoming polls are being seen as crucial for the AAP as it has "failed" to perform in Punjab and Goa elections. The BJP, which has been ruling all three MCDs for 10 years, is desperate to regain a third consecutive term. The Congress party on the other hand, sour with the recent defeat in the recent Assembly elections, will put all its might in trying to improve its performance in the civic polls.
Early signs of a high-drama polling exercise are already visible with the BJP dropping all its sitting councillors from the list of candidates, in what it terms a move to "infuse fresh blood" into civic body polls. The AAP on the other hand has expressed reservations about electronic voting machines (EVMs), after Mayawati alleged rigging in UP elections, seeking the use of ballot papers in the civic polls. The poll panel, however, has turned down the request stating that the time is less to entertain such a request. "Voting through EVMs is very safe. And, if the polls are to be held through ballot then some of the rules have to be amended," the poll panel chief has said.
Meanwhile, it is also expected that the recent electoral defeat that the AAP faced in Goa and Punjab may have bearings on its prospects in the civic polls in the national capital. While AAP Delhi convenor Dilip Pandey welcomed the announcement of poll dates and exuded confidence, another party leader requesting anonymity told PTI, "Poor performance in the state is bound to dampen the party workers' spirit. We were expecting that the results in Punjab will give a shot in arm to the organisation in the MCD polls.
The AAP has already released a list of 248 candidates, with the BJP and Congress still choosing to hold their cards close to their chest.
Swaraj India has also put out a list of 109 candidates, which it shortlisted after inviting applications from the masses and subjecting them to the scrutiny of a three-tier selection process.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Mar 15, 2017 20:13:16 IST