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Polling begins in Delhi


November 29, 2008 09:34 IST

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Polling for the assembly elections began on Saturday morning in New Delhi [Images], where The Congress is engaged in a keen electoral battle with the Bharatiya Janata Party to record a historic third consecutive term in power.

Elections are being held in 69 out of the 70 Assembly constituencies while polling for the remaining one will be held on December 13. The polling for the Rajendra Nagar seat was rescheduled after BJP candidate Puran Chand Yogi allegedly committed suicide in the midst of campaigning.

The voting began at 8 am at 10,993 polling stations spread across the capital amid tight security. Over 52,000 police personnel have been deployed, an official at the Delhi Electoral Office said.

A total of 1,05,82,369 voters, including 46.98 lakh women, will exercise their franchise in Delhi. There are 863 candidates.

The stakes in this elections are high for Sheila Dikshit, chief minister for the past ten years, who faces voters on the development agenda while the BJP, led by its chief ministerial candidate V K Malhotra, is hoping to cash in on anti-incumbency and BSP's 'spoiler effect' on the Congress.

Besides Dikshit and Malhotra, the other candidates whose fate will be decided in today's election are ministers A K Walia, Arvinder Singh Lovely, Yoganand Shastri and Raj Kumar Chouhan, Delhi BJP chief Harsh Vardhan and Leader of the Opposition Jagdish Mukhi, among others.

All eyes are on Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party, which is contesting all the seats, as the party had improved its tally from two to 17 in last year's municipal elections.

Though the Congress has not declared its chief ministerial candidate, the party has given clear indication that if voted to power, Dikshit will have a 'third innings'.

While Congress harped on development it brought to the city, BJP picked holes in the ruling party's claims asking voters to give 'some rest' to the grand old party while raising the pitch on terrorism.

BJP's new development mascot Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi [Images] did a whirlwind tour of the city, addressing about ten election meetings and raising Congress' alleged failure in tackling terrorism and price rise, besides questioning the rationale for going for killer projects like the Bus Rapid Transit Corridor.

The Congress tried to counter the BJP offensive with Rahul Gandhi [Images], who made his debut in the Delhi election campaigning, claiming that the saffron party was raising the bogey of terrorism as it has 'no dreams to offer' on development.

On the other hand, BSP focused its campaign on winning minorities and Dalits in the national capital besides assuring upper caste voters that it was not against them by offering quota for poor among them.

Charges were also traded on a number of local issues like regularisation of unauthorised colonies, sealing and demolitions, BRT corridor, demand for statehood for Delhi and privatisation of power distribution.

Besides these, the encounter at Jamia Nagar in south Delhi, in which two suspected Indian Mujahideen [Images] terrorists were killed, gave Congress' four-month-old ally Samajwadi Party an opportunity to virtually paint the ruling party in an anti-minority light.




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