Litmus test for Sheila Dikshit as Delhi goes to poll on Wednesday

In what is likely to be a litmus test for incumbent Congress government led by Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit, nearly 1.12 crore voters in Delhi will cast their votes at 11,992 polling booths on December 4 to elect a new government.

By Ritesh K Srivastava | Updated: Dec 03, 2013, 12:07 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh k Srivastava

New Delhi: In what is likely to be a litmus test for incumbent Congress government led by Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit, nearly 1.12 crore voters in Delhi will cast their votes at 11,992 polling booths on December 4 to elect a new government.

Of nearly 1.12 core voters, there are over 4.05 lakh first-time voters in Delhi. Delhi’s voters will be provided the ‘None of the Above’ option in EVMs when the city goes to polls on Wednesday.

Whether the voters in Delhi will repose their faith in the Congress government or reject it, whether Avind Kejriwal`s newly-floated Aam Admi Party will make a dent in the poll prospects of the two main contenders BJP and Congress or whether city state will see a hung assembly - will be known in just a week when the results of electoral exercise will be declared on December 8.

Seen as a run up to the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, the outcome of assembly elections held in five states will surely impact the General Elections next year.

The 2008 elections had recorded 58.6% voting turnout in Delhi.

Few women & Muslim candidates

According to an analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms, there are only 69 women among the 796 candidates fielded by the major parties including the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

This is a dismal 9 percent, much lower than the 33 percent reservation sought by the pending bill that proposes that seats be reserved for women in state assemblies and Parliament.

Among the major political parties, the Congress and the AAP have fielded six candidates each while five women are contesting on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tickets.

In the 70-member Delhi Assembly, there are presently only three women representatives – CM Sheila Dikshit, Kiran Walia and Barkha Singh.

The Delhi assembly elections will see a slight increase in the participation of Muslim candidates from various political parties compared to the 2008 polls.

The BSP has fielded the highest number of Muslim candidates along with Samajwadi Party,

Of the 810 candidates fielded for the 70 seats, a total number of 108 Muslims have been fielded - comprising 13 percent. In 2008, 92 Muslim candidates were fielded of the total 875 fighting the polls.
Hectic campaigning

The campaigning for Delhi assembly polls, which ended on Monday saw major parties fielding top leaders like Sonia Gandhi, L K Advani, Narendra Modi, Mayawat and Nitish Kumar who addressed a series of rallies.

Nascent Aam Admi Party confined its electioneering mainly to door-to-door campaigning and is seen as potentially a major force with opinion polls project significant support base for it.

BJP`s high-voltage campaign was led by party veteran L K Advani and its Prime Ministerial candidate Modi who targeted

Sheila Dikshit dispensation on various issues while appealing to people to use the opportunity to vote out the "corrupt" Congress government which has been in ower for 15 years.

Both Congress and BJP, main contenders for power, have dismissed AAP as a serious contender though pre-poll surveys project considerable support for the party.

While Congress harped on development it brought to the city, BJP accused it of pilling up miseries on the common man while promising to bring down the power tariff by 30 per cent besides setting up a commission to examine how food prices can be slashed.

Modi did a whirlwind tour in the city addressing a number of election meetings during which he attacked the Congress government for its "failure" in tackling major issues facing the city. A total of 810 candidates are in the fray for the 70-member Assembly.
Focus on booth management

With the campaigning for the Delhi Assembly polls ending yesterday all parties have chalked a hectic schedule to ensure a high voter turnout in their favour.

The three main contenders - the Congress, BJP and the AAP - have planned to personally reach out to the voters and trained their workers for the purpose.

The main opposition BJP has formed 30-member team per booth. A total of 280 ‘karyakarta sammelans’ were held wherein the cadres were trained to ensure they know how the electronic voting machines operate.

Senior BJP leaders kept a tab on workers via teleconferencing, wherein they called workers randomly to check their location and on-going work.

With no previous experience in booth management, it is a now or never opportunity for AAP, be it carrying out indoor meetings, ensuring voters are informed or the last-minute, last-mile connectivity of booth management.

The incumbent Congress is relying more on tried and tested traditional methods. It has meticulously planned booth management, right up to assigning workers to wake up its agents at a specific time on the voting day.

Even when most workers are poll veterans, special training has been given to the agents and their responsibilities have been clearly defined, sources said.

With Agency inputs