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EC sounds poll bugle, battle begins

Making the announcement, the full bench of Election Commission said on Monday that the election process would be completed by February 12. Though the polls are essentially being seen as a contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Congress too would make an attempt to regain the lost turf in the city. The polls come nearly a year after Arvind Kejriwal of the AAP resigned as CM after being in power for  49 days.

Since then the city has been under President’s rule. Kejriwal then took over as chief minister with Congress backing, as BJP which emerged as the largest party but remained short of majority, refused to form the government.

“Polling would be held February 7 and the counting would take place on February 10,” said Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath flanked by Election Commissioners HS Brahma and Nasim Zaidi, during the press conference. The last date for filing nominations will be Jan 21, and they could withdraw from the contest by January 24, he said. Delhi has a 70-member legislature. Sampath said that 1.30 crore voters were eligible to exercise their franchise across 70 constituencies in Delhi.

“The dissolution (of the Delhi Assembly) order of the President will expire by February 15 and in order to restore the mandate of the people as expeditiously as possible, the Commission has decided to go in for elections where the results will be known well before February 15,” he added.

With the declaration of the poll schedule, the EC said the Model Code of Conduct has come into force with immediate effect. Sampath said the notification for the polls will be issued on January 14 while the last date for filing nominations will be January 21. The date of scrutiny of nomination papers would be January 22. Welcoming the announcement of the election dates, the BJP, the AAP and Congress expressed confidence on their prospects.

“The BJP welcomes the commission’s decision, which is a fitting reply to those who were accusing us of delaying the polls in Delhi. We are confident that we will win the assembly elections and provide a strong, stable and efficient government,” said BJP Delhi president Satish Upadhyay. AAP’s Manish Sisodia said, “We are confident we will win. It’s a contest between AAP and the BJP as  Congress is out of the picture.”

However, Sheila Dikshit claimed that Congress was getting a “good response” at public meetings. Congress appointed former Union minister Ajay Maken as head of the campaign committee for the upcoming Delhi assembly polls. Party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “The results will show that the Congress is the only relevant party and the myths are about to be shattered.”

UP canTt elections: BJP suffers poll reverses in PM modi’s constituency

In a jolt for the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh, none of the candidates backed by it won in Cantonment Board polls in Varanasi and Lucknow. The party won only one of eight seats in Agra, with independent candidates bagging the rest. In Lucknow, union home minister Rajnath Singh’s constituency, independents bagged all eight seats.

The BJP had supported candidates in seven seats. Similar was the case in Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where all seven seats were won by independents. This was the first time the BJP supported or fielded candidates in polls to Cantonment Boards. No other political party had backed candidates.
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