Has Delhi forgiven Arvind Kejriwal?

Exit polls predict that AAP will form a government in the capital with the BJP coming second and the  Congress a distant third. Kiran Bedi rejects polls’ results, while Kejriwal tweets thanks to voters

New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is likely to form a government in Delhi, half-a-dozen exit polls said yesterday after the assembly elections, giving the BJP the second spot. The Congress is expected to be wiped out.'

Arvind Kejriwal
Arvind Kejriwal tweeted his thanks to voters as exit polls predicted his win. File pic

AAP is expected to win between 31 and a whopping 53 seats in the 70-member assembly, the surveys said. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could bag 17-35 seats.

The Congress, which had ruled Delhi for 15 years until December 2013, could face a rout, either winning no seat or at best four seats.

What the polls say
Today’s Chanakya, a political research organisation, gave 48 seats to the AAP, which ruled Delhi for 49 days after stunningly winning 28 seats in its maiden election 14 months ago, and 22 to the BJP. The Congress, it said, would be crushed in the AAP-BJP battle. Any party will need at least 36 seats to form the government in Delhi. Other surveys such as the ABP-Nielsen survey gave the AAP 39 and the BJP 28 seats.

Kiran Bedi
Kiran Bedi

The AAP and the BJP were widely seen as the principal contenders for power in Delhi. Today’s Chanakya also said that all social classes in the capital — Dalits, Muslims, Brahmins, OBCs, Banias and Punjabis — had voted more for the AAP. The percentage of Muslims voting for the AAP was as high as 71 per cent.

Kiran Bedi accuses Kejriwal of bribing voters Vice President Hamid Ansari, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, party Vice President Rahul Gandhi, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi, Union Ministers Harsh Vardhan and Maneka Gandhi, Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, Congress’ Ajay Maken and BJP’s Varun Gandhi were among the early voters.

President Pranab Mukherjee inspected the model polling booth at the Rajendra Prasad Sarvodaya Vidyalaya in President’s Estate set up for the elections. Mukherjee, who had taken a conscious decision not to vote after becoming the head of state, was impressed by the facilities, said sources close to him When asked about the polls, Congress President Sonia Gandhi said, “Whatever the people want will happen.” Congress’ face for Delhi polls Ajay Maken said his party will never extend or take support from AAP if such a situation arises. “We will never ever give support to AAP again,” he said, adding, “I am very hopeful that Congress is going to do exceedingly well and we are going to form government on our own.”

Bedi, India’s first woman police officer who was picked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lead the BJP’s charge in Delhi, disputed the exit poll findings, saying her party would win. “We do not agree with the exit polls. We are confident the BJP will win in Delhi,” she said.

Bedi also alleged that the AAP was trying to woo voters by offering bribes. Kejriwal denied the allegations and termed it a rumour. Bedi showed some visuals to reporters, and claimed that AAP was offering bribes to voters to exercise their franchise in its favour. “Shameless incident recorded by media channels where men, women, young girls narrated how their vote was being bought by an unethical party,” she also tweeted.

Senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia said his party was always confident of winning in Delhi. He insisted that the projection of Bedi as the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate had backfired.

Meanwhile, Kejriwal thanked the people of the city for voting for his party in large numbers on Saturday. “My gratitude 2 Delhiites for their support,” he tweeted. “(You are) so amazing. (You) rejected politics of caste and religion. Hope final results (are) as per exit polls.” He also congratulated all “selfless volunteers of the AAP who worked round the clock for their country. AAP is bcoz of u.”

Record voters’ turnout this year; PM Modi meets party leaders
The fiercely fought Delhi assembly elections saw a record voter turnout of 67.08 percent. “We are happy to announce this election has been unprecedented in terms of voter turnout. The poll percentage has crossed 67.08 per cent,” Chief Electoral Officer Chandra Bhushan Kumar said.

Delhi’s north-east district witnessed the highest turnout of voters at 69.89 per cent in the assembly polls while the New Delhi district registered the lowest at 64.01 pe rcent, the Election Commission said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday met BJP leaders to review the Delhi assembly polls. BJP sources said those who attended the meeting included party president Amit Shah, union ministers Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari and party general secretary (organisation) Ram Lal.

Senior citizens make their vote count
Determined to make their vote count, the elderly came out in large numbers to vote in the Delhi assembly elections — many with walking aids or leaning for support on others in vignettes that are a ringing endorsement of India’s democracy. Ninety-three-year old Shankuntala Devi, a resident of BK Dutt Colony, said, “Delhi needs a stable government that could last full five years under a strong leadership.”

Delhi groom votes before wedding
Wedding and voting, both happened to be on Saturday, but groom Akshay decided to be a good citizen first and went with his ‘band, baaja and baaraat’ to the poll booth first. Attired in his wedding finery of gold embroidered sherwani and with matching colourful headgear, Akshay first went to cast his vote at a polling booth in Chattarpur before heading for his wedding ceremony.
The groom took along his family to the polling booth for casting his ballot in the Delhi assembly election.

Police worried about AAP’s coming?
Delhi Police constables and officials were seen asking journalists about  AAP’s chances of winning the Delhi elections — probably in the backdrop of past face-offs with the short-lived AAP government last year. “Do you really think AAP will win? What do your sources say?” were curious questions posed by constables.

55,000 cops for polls
A total of 55,000 policemen, along with paramilitary forces, were deployed in the capital city to maintain law and order and ensure peaceful voting, police said. The policemen along with additional troops from paramilitary forces, including Border Security Force and Central Reserve Police Force, were deployed at every sensitive place and at 11,763 booths in 70 constituencies of the capital.

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