The much-awaited assembly elections in Delhi would be held Feb 7 and the results announced three days later, the Election Commission announced Monday as main players BJP, AAP and Congress expressed confidence of winning.
The polls were announced almost an year after Arvind Kejriwal, of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), resigned as chief minister leading to President’s rule in the national capital.
"Polling would be held Feb 7 and the counting would take place Feb 10," Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath told the media here.
The last date for filing nomination of candidates will be Jan 21 and they could withdraw from the contest by Jan 24, he said. Delhi has a 70-member legislature.
Welcoming the announcement of the election dates, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the AAP and Congress expressed confidence over the performance.
"The BJP welcomes the commission’s decision and this development is a tight slap on the faces of those who were accusing us of delaying the polls in Delhi. We are confident that we will win the assembly elections and provide a strong, stable and efficient government to the people of Delhi," BJP Delhi unit media convenor Praveen Shankar Kapoor told IANS.
Senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia told IANS: "We are confident that we will win. It’s a contest between AAP and the BJP as the Congress is out of picture."
However, former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit claimed Congress was getting a "good response" in public meetings.
Party spokesperson Sanjay Jha told IANS: "Congress will go to the Delhi election with full confidence. The party expects do well this time round."
"It was the anti-UPA sentiment because of which we could not do well in the last Delhi assembly elections but this time round we will certainly do well," he said.
More than 1.3 crore people will be eligible to vote across 11,763 polling centres in the Delhi assembly elections.
Sampath said the Model Code of Conduct would come into effect immediately, barring the government from taking major policy decisions that could influence the electorate.
He said that the time given for campaigning was less as it was a single state election. "Also, in Delhi’s case, there was enough anticipation for the election, so more time is not needed," Sampath said.
Delhi elected a hung assembly in December 2013 after which the AAP formed a minority government headed by Kejriwal with Congress backing. Kejriwal resigned Feb 14, 2014.
President’s rule was imposed in the city Feb 17 last year.
Sampath said the poll panel had got complaints regarding fake or bogus voters from political parties, adding the issue had been addressed before the publication of electoral rolls Jan 5.
Monday’s announcement comes amid hectic election campaigning in the city, particularly by the BJP and the AAP.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a major election rally. The AAP has been holding small and big meetings every day. Both the parties are also locked in publicity war.
The 2013 election ended 15 years of rule by the Congress, whose seats in the 70-member house plunged from 43 in 2008 to just eight. Its vote share also fell from 40 to 25 percent.
The BJP emerged as the single largest party with 31 seats followed by the AAP, which stunned everyone by bagging 28 seats in its debutant electoral battle.
With no single party in a position to form a government, the AAP took power with the outside legislative backing of the Congress. Kejriwal resigned after 49 days in power.
In the May 2014 Lok Sabha election, the BJP won all seven seats in the capital. The AAP took the second spot everywhere while the Congress came third in six constituencies and fourth in the seventh.