New Delhi: The Election Commission will announce the poll schedule for Delhi at 3.30pm on Monday. The term of the 70-member Delhi Assembly is ending on February 22 and a new House has to be constituted before that.
The polls are expected to be held in a single phase with the contentious National Register of Citizens (NRC), Citizenship Amendment Act, air pollution, women’s safety, and statehood demand for Delhi likely to dominate the election narrative.
The battle for the Capital is a prestige war for Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is seeking re-election after a thumping victory in 2015 when the party won 67 of 70 seats in the Assembly.
Kejriwal, who has sought to keep the focus of the electoral battle on his government’s development works such as the Mohalla clinics and model schools, had earlier said his party was eyeing all 70 seats. Taking a cue from Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal, Kejriwal also roped in election strategist Prashant Kishor’s political consultancy firm I-PAC in his quest to return as Delhi chief minister for the second consecutive term next year, though the firm has had too short a period to deliver.
The AAP launched its campaign last month with the slogan ‘Ache beete 5 saal, lage raho Kejriwal’ (Past 5 years have been good, keep going with Kejriwal). Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia too has said he was confident of his party’s success.
Soon after the announcement of the dates, AAP’s Raghav Chadha said his party was geared up for the polls which would be fought on local issues.
So far as the BJP is concerned, the party also launched its campaign last month with star campaigner Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading a rally at the Ramlila Maidan. Modi used the occasion to target opposition parties over the nationwide protests against the citizenship law.
Keeping the option open for projecting a CM face against Kejriwal in Delhi, BJP President and Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said the saffron party has emerged as an alternative in the national capital given people’s growing disenchantment with the Aam Aadmi Party government.
The dismal performance of BJP in the last assembly elections in Delhi has not deterred Shah from pursuing his ambitions for the national capital. Confident of winning in the 2020 Delhi state elections, Shah had also hinted that the party would think about a CM face.
The Congress, which was involved in a long deliberation with the AAP for an alliance to take on the BJP in Delhi ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election but to no avail, too is sure of emerging victorious. Congress's Delhi unit chief Subhash Chopra claimed the Congress will win a "clear majority" in the election to the 70 assembly seats.
The Delhi Congress has set up an election "war room" at the party office on DDU Marg. The war room, comprising 14 workstations manned by 30 volunteers, will provide logistic support to party candidates in the election. Each volunteer will handle five constituencies and establish contact with party workers and leaders in those areas.
AICC incharge of Delhi Congress PC Chacko asserted his party is "fully prepared" for the elections. "We are very hopeful and confident that our graph is going up and we are sure Congress will come back to power single handedly," Chacko said.