Free Press Journal

Assembly polls in Delhi likely to be held by mid-February, BJP & AAP ready


BJP leadsBJP leads

New Delhi: The Assembly elections in Delhi, where the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are raring for another face off, are likely to be held by the middle of February.

Authoritative sources in the Election Commission said the announcement for the one-day poll for the 70-member Assembly may be made this week. The final list of electoral rolls for the National Capital Territory of Delhi will be published tomorrow that will pave the way for holding the polls anytime thereafter. Incidentally, this will be the last election that will be announced by Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath, who will demit office on January 15 on attaining 65 years of age.

The sources said the schedule will be so fine-tuned that the elections are hoped to be completed in the second week of February or at best the third week so that it does not come in the way of annual examinations including those conducted by the CBSE that usually start early March. Since Delhi is the only state going to polls now,  the availability of Central Para-Military Forces (CPMF) will not be a problem, the sources said, adding that about 100 CMPF companies may be enough for free and fair conduct of elections. Delhi also does not have history of violence or booth capturing that may have been witnessed in states in the past.

The elections will be an opportunity for the resurgent BJP,  which has been on a winning streak under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in various Assembly polls since its spectacular success in the Lok Sabha polls last May, to seek a clear verdict unlike the fractured decision of 2013 polls in Delhi. The  BJP, which had then faced the polls under Modi as the chief campaigner for the party, could not get a majority in Delhi unlike the stunning success it had scored in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh which also went to polls then.

The AAP, which made its debut in Delhi in the last polls in 2013, got 28 MLAs. It managed to form a government with the support of Congress (8 MLAs) and JD(U) (one) but Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal resigned in 49 days making it a short-lived government. The AAP has announced candidates for all the 70 seats including that of Kejriwal who will seek reelection from New Delhi.

The party made a disastrous showing in the last year’s Lok Sabha polls except for the four seats it had won in Punjab. The Congress, on the other hand, is still reeling under the shattering blow it had received in the Lok Sabha elections and has not been able to put up any good showing in the Assembly polls in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir that followed. It has already announced candidates for 24 seats, eight of them sitting MLAs and 12 of them who came second in the last elections.

The partial list is in itself is a break with the past when Congress would come out with its candidates list only after the announcement of the election schedule. The Central Election Committee  of the party is slated to meet soon and finalise the rest of the candidates. The second list may be the final list. The BJP is yet to come out with its list.