Even though it is municipal elections in Delhi, all eyes are focused on the performance of Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). After its poor performance in Goa and Punjab assembly elections, a further defeat in the civic elections would hit the morale of the party’s rank and file and may also write off its chance to become a political force of any significance.
To be held on April 23, 2017, municipal elections for 272 ward councillors are equally important for the Congress and the BJP. In fact, the Congress has made the election a fight for prestige. It has decided to land the party’s who’s who including vice president Rahul Gandhi, newly-elected Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, former cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu and others for campaigning.
A glance at its draft roadmap for the city shows that the party would not like to cede any ground to its rivals in the forthcoming municipal polls. The party has declared rebate on property tax and incentives for domestic and commercial establishments. And then in its bid to win over a sizeable section of the middle class voters, the grand-old party has promised to make Delhi the cleanest and the most beautiful city of the world.
These declarations have been made to tear asunder the AAP’s claims of abolishing housing tax, waving of pending dues and making Delhi a modern city, if the party wins the municipal polls.
Decline in AAP’s Credibility
The AAP has failed to fulfil promises made during the February 2015 assembly polls of Delhi. Whether it were regularisation of unauthorised colonies, providing quality civic amenities, round the clock free Wi-Fi service, last-mile connectivity, providing women’s safety on buses by deploying marshals, or opening of schools—all promises have failed to be implemented even after more than two years. And it is what gives the BJP sufficient ammunitions to target the AAP.
Challenges Before the BJP
The saffron party has been ruling all three municipal corporations of Delhi: North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) for ten years. To beat anti-incumbency factor, the BJP which denied tickets to all of its councillors, has launched big campaigns across the city. But the saffron party knows that people of the national capital have not forgotten the mess that prevailed on the city roads and corners.
Delhiites, bearing the brunt of war of ego between the AAP-led administration and the BJP-controlled municipal corporations, often found the roads of their city littered with garbage. Several people succumbed to dengue, while the number of patients afflicted with this viral disease touched an all-time high. Over 12,000 people were reported to suffer from the deadly viral disease in 2015—beating the 1996 record when 10,252 cases of dengue were reported.
The year 2016 did not also prove good for Delhiites. Till October 1, 2016, as many as 5,293 new cases of chikungunya were reported. Therefore, it is a cause for concern for the BJP. In this background, the BJP has changed the entire list of councillors and has now decided to field new candidates in their places, yet it appears to be shaky on the ground.
So that it doesn’t lose elections and face embarrassment, it is fighting the MCD polls like state assembly or parliamentary elections. The saffron party is going to rope in services of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for campaigning for the polls. It should be noted that people from Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Jaunpur, Balia and Maharajganj (all parts of Purvanchal) form significant percentage of voters in Delhi.
The saffron party believes that the UP Chief Minister who wields sizeable influence on people belonging to Purvanchal, would be equally effective in leveraging the same on Delhi voters from these areas.
Facts About Municipal Polls
There are as many as 272 wards which will go to polls and for this, the last date for filing nominations is April 3. Scrutiny of nomination would take place on April 5 and the last date for withdrawal of nominations is April 8.
Voting will be held on April 22 and the counting will take place on April 25. Delhi Municipal Corporations are divided into three zones: North Delhi Municipal Corporation, South Delhi Municipal Corporation and East Delhi Municipal Corporation. While NDMC and SDMC have 104 seats each, EDMC has 64 seats.
Number of seats reserved for women in NDMC is 42, while in SDMC 45 and EDMC 27. As per the Delhi Election Commission, for the first time there will be a ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) option in the polls.
The total number of voters are: 1,32,10,206, and of them, 73,15,915 are men and 58,93,418 women and 719 others.
The forthcoming municipal elections are going to witness multi-cornered contests, yet the fight is only between the BJP, the AAP and the Congress.