Voting began on Sunday morning for the bypolls to five municipal wards in Delhi, results of which are likely to have an impact on the 2022 civic elections. Polling began at 7:30am amid tight security arrangements.
The main contenders are the ruling Aam Aadmi Party, the BJP and the Congress. All of them have expressed confidence that they will emerge victorious in the bypolls, which are being held amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the State Election Commission of Delhi, around 2.42 lakh people are eligible to cast their votes in two wards under the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and three wards under the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC).
These municipal wards are Rohini-C, Shalimar Bagh (North), Trilokpuri, Kalyanpuri and Chauan Banger. While Shalimar Bagh (North) is reserved for women, Trilokpuri and Kalyanpuri are reserved for the SC category, according to the poll body.
The bypolls are being seen as the semifinal before the elections to all 272 MCD wards in early 2022. The results for the bypolls will be announced on March 3, officials said, adding that there are 327 polling stations and 26 candidates in the fray.
Officials said COVID-19 patients can vote during the last hour of polling as per government guidelines. Of Delhi's 272 wards, North Delhi Municipal Corporation and South Delhi Municipal Corporation have 104 each and East Delhi Municipal Corporation has 64.
The BJP has been controlling all three corporations since 2012, when the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi was trifurcated into North, South and East corporations. The main candidates in the Kalyanpuri ward bye-elections are Dhirendra from the AAP, Siyaram Kanojia from the BJP and Dharampal Maurya from the Congress.
Vijay Kumar from the AAP, Om Prakash Gugarwal from the BJP and Bal Kishan from the Congress are contesting from Trilokpuri ward. In Chauhan Banger, former AAP MLA Haji Ishraq Khan is pitted against Congress' Chaudhary Zubair Ahmad and BJP's Nazir Ansari.
These three wards are under the East Delhi Municipal Corporation. The AAP held these wards. The bypolls were necessitated after sitting councillors contested the assembly polls last year and became MLAs. In Shalimar Bagh North ward, which fell vacant after the death of the BJP councillor, the contest is between the saffron party's Surbhi Jaju, AAP's Sunita Mishra and Congress' Mamta.
The BJP had retained all three corporations in the 2017 civic polls with the AAP finishing a distant second.