Campaigning ends for Feb 8 Delhi polls

Campaigning ends for Feb 8 Delhi polls

Agency News

New Delhi, Feb 6 : Shrill and highvoltage campaign for the February 8 assembly polls in the national capital drew to a close on Thursday evening, settling the dust on a campaign that turned volatile and divisive at times and brought in focus issues like Shaheen Bagh's anti-CAA protest, violence in universities and freebies being promised to the people by all major political parties.

The campaign witnessed ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) riding on its strong vote bank and promise of continuing the freebies in water and power supply, Congress vowing to bring back Sheila Dixit's era of infrastructure development and BJP branding nationalism and strong Centre-State relations. Barring a few stray incidents, the electioneering which took off around Republic Day last month remained by and large peaceful, yet the incidents of shooting in Shaheen Bagh and outside Jamia Milia Islamia university in South-East were strongly criticised by the people of Delhi.

The storm of allegations, slogans, accusations and vigour which ruled the speeches of almost all major political leaders for the past three weeks came to an end this evening, with parties leaving no stone unturned to woo the electorate on the last day of campaigning. The campaign which initially began on key issues of development and education, later shifted to Shaheen Bagh anti-CAA protests with the BJP cornering the Congress and the AAP for supporting the agitation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the star campaigner of the BJP as he addressed two well-attended rallies in the city in a bid to boost his party's electoral chances.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah batted on the frontfoot for the BJP as he undertook door-todoor campaigning in several parts of the Capital as well as visited at least three dozen assembly segments. In the last assembly elections in Delhi in 2015, the BJP could win just three out of 70 seats and the Congress drew a blank. On the last day of campaigning, senior AAP, BJP and Congress leaders held roadshows across the city that included Mr Shah who was at Dilshad Garden, BJP president J P Nadda, Congress leader Deepender Hooda and others. Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia was also seen doing door to door campaign.

For the AAP, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal held a number of roadshows as well as addressed election meetings, focussing on his government's track record in education and health sectors. The Election Commission cracked whip on Union Minister Anurag Thakur, West Delhi BJP MP Parvesh Verma and BJP leader Kapil Mishra for violating the Model Code of Conduct. The poll body also warned Mr Kejriwal for promising Mohalla clinic in a Court complex. AAP is contesting all 70 Assembly constituencies, while the Congress has fielded candidates on 66 seats and the BJP on 67 seats this time giving three seats to its alliance partners like Janata Dal (United) and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). In alliance with the Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is contesting for the Delhi Assembly polls on four seats. BJP's ally in Punjab -- Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) though not contesting the elections, has declared its support to the saffron party.

Keeping in view the ensuing polls, the security arrangements have been beefed up across the city to thwart any untoward incident. Central Armed Police Forces have also been deployed. Senior police officials from various units have been drafted for the special poll duties. There are 13,750 polling booths, besides one auxiliary booth, situated at 2,689 locations across Delhi. All the poll centres will be heavily guarded and secured by the additional police force. Around 1.47 crore people are likely to exercise their franchise across the national capital to elect their representatives on Saturday. Voters in various categories include 81,05,236 men, 66,80,277 women.

There are service voters (11,608), third gender voters (869), and senior citizens, aged 80 and above, (2,04,830). The polling will take place on February 8 in a single phase covering all the seats. The voting will begin at 8 a.m. and will continue till 6 p.m. The counting of votes will be taken up on February 11. Out of total 672 candidates, 210 are from national parties, who are trying their electoral fortunes in the 70 Assembly seats. (UNI)