New Delhi, Feb 9 (IANS) The stage is set for counting in the Delhi assembly polls Tuesday with the poll panel having made all necessary arrangements and candidates anxiously awaiting the outcome of the fiercely-contested election that has national ramifications.
The mood is upbeat in Aam Aadmi Party with the exit polls saying that it will win the polls to 70-member assembly. Bharatiya Janata Party workers appeared apprehensive due to exit poll results predicting a defeat but party leaders have expressed confidence about a comfortable victory.
The Congress appears reconciled that it will finish third and party leaders are hoping its tally is not worse than eight it won in the 2013 election.
The Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements for counting across 14 centres in the national capital. Counting will start at 8 a.m. and a picture about the likely winner is expected in the next two hours.
Though it is a working day for residents of the capital, the trends are expected to be closely followed on radio, television and the web.
The result will have wider political ramifications, particularly for the BJP, which is the party in power at the centre and has had a good electoral run since the Lok Sabha election.
Over 10,000 security personnel, including from the paramilitary forces have been gaurding 20,000 electronic voting machines (EVM) which contain the votes cast in Delhi polls Saturday.
With margins expected to be slim on many seats, political parties have asked their candidates to keep a close watch on counting and immediately raise any suspicion.
Volunteers of AAP have been keeping a round-the-clock watch outside some centres where EVMs have been kept. The process of counting will be video graphed.
AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, who spent a relaxed day Sunday and watched a movie with some party leaders, Monday met party workers and volunteers from New Delhi seat which he is contesting. AAP workers have planned massive celebrations ahead for anticipated victory.
Stages have been erected outside the AAP office in East Patel Nagar for the media and volunteers. Four LED television sets have been installed in the open by AAP for workers to see trends and results. Kejriwal is expected to arrive at party headquarters in the afternoon to address people.
In its maiden election December 2013, the AAP stunningly won 28 seats compared to 31 of BJP and formed a government with Congress backing after a hung assembly. The AAP government resigned after 49 days.
AAP leader and former transport minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said the party was sure to get a majority.”We will surprise everyone the way we did in 2013,” he said.
BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi, who addressed BJP workers at Karkardooma in her Krishna Nagar constituency today and expressed gratitude for their support, said the party was expecting a victory.
“Our workers have worked hard and we are confident to win the polls,” she said. Bedi also distributed a pictorial book about her life to the workers, saying it will inspire their children.
Congress, which exit polls have predicted will finish a distant third, is apparently not keeping too much expectations.
P.C. Chacko, who is party incharge of Delhi, said that the party did not believe in exit polls and they were waiting for actual results.
Party leaders said that they were keeping their fingers crossed.Delhi saw a voter turnout of 67.14 percent Saturday and 673 candidates are in the fray.
According to the exit polls, the AAP was likely to get between 31 and a staggering 54 seats while the BJP could bag 17 to 35 seats. The Congress, which ruled Delhi for 15 years till December 2013, would win at most four seats, they said.