Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: A record 66 percent Delhiites voted on Wednesday in the fiercely fought Assembly polls, considered the litmus test for Congress ahead of the next year`s Lok Sabha elections, as arch rival BJP and debutant Aam Aadmi Party made it a tight triangular contest.
The high-pitched battle that saw BJP aggressively campaigning to stop Congress from getting a fourth consecutive term and greenhorn AAP, trying to corner both traditional political parties on corruption issue..
While Congress was seeking another term under Sheila Dikshit, BJP and AAP were led by their chief ministerial candidates Harsh Vardhan and bureaucrat-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal respectively for the 70-member Assembly.
Over 66 percent of the Delhi`s 11.9 million electors, including many VIPs, cast ballot till 6 p.m. to elect a new 70-member house from amongst 810 candidates. Polling was way up from 57.58 percent in 2008.
The entry of Arvind Kejriwal`s AAP, seen by many as a spoiler in the decades old direct battle of ballot between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), added to enthusiasm among voters.
The prestigious New Delhi constituency, where Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit of the Congress and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal are battling it out, polling was 75 percent - up from 66 percent in 2008.
Nearly 70,000 people were standing in queue around 6 PM, he said.
Today`s turnout was a record in all elections in Delhi including assembly and Lok Sabha polls in last two decades. In 2008 Assembly polls, the overall voting percentage was 57.58 while in 2003, it was 53.42 percent.
Vice President Hamid Ansari, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Dikshit, Kejriwal and Vardhan were among the early voters.
Three-time Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit banked on development done by her government. "I am hopeful that people will vote for development and the work done by us in the last 15 years," she said.
The poll was a direct fight between the Congress and the BJP, said Dikshit. Rahul Gandhi supported her: "Sheila Dikshit has done a lot of good work for Delhi, so she will do well."
BJP`s chief ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan claimed his party was ahead of both the Congress and AAP.
"BJP is far ahead of the Congress and the AAP. It is the Congress and the AAP who are contesting for the second position. Nobody can make a dent in our vote bank," Harsh Vardhan told reporters after casting his vote in the Krishna Nagar constituency.
Kejriwal, who has promised to end corruption and slash electricity and water tariffs, too sounded confident.
"People are ready, they have made up their mind to remove the corrupt. I am very confident of the results. It will not be my victory but that of the people," he said.
Elaborate security arrangements were made in the capital with deployment of 32,801 personnel of Delhi Police and 10,700 central paramilitary force personnel.
While BJP has fielded candidates in 66 constituencies Congress and AAP are contesting from all 70 seats.
BSP, which was the third largest party in last Assembly election, has fielded candidates in 69 seats, NCP in nine and Samajwadi Party in 27 seats. A total of 224 Independents are also in the fray.
Many pre-poll surveys have predicted a hung Assembly for Delhi.
With agencies inputs