New Delhi | The Assembly election in Delhi, being touted as a direct contest between BJP and AAP, will be held on February 7, the Election Commission announced today. Counting of votes for the election to the 70member Assembly will be held on February 10, ahead of the expiry President’s Rule which was imposed in the capital on February 15, last year. With the declaration of the poll schedule, the Model Code of Conduct will come into force with immediate effect, the EC said.
The notification for the polls will be issued by the Lt Governor on January 14 while the last date for filing nominations is January 21. The date of scrutiny is January 22, while candidates can withdraw from the electoral battle by January 24. Addressing a press conference here, the full Commission comprising Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath and Election Commissioners H S Brahma and Nasim Zaidi, said 1.30 crore voters were eligible to exercise their franchise to elect a new Assembly.
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, Sampath said. The electoral process in Delhi will be completed by February 12. The CEC said that the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi will witness a very heated and hectic political campaign as there are no polls being held anywhere in the country during that period and the focus of all political parties will be here.
He said the EC has put up a mechanism for conduct of a free and fair election and all measures to check the use of money power will be taken. Responding to a volley of questions that the EC was not following the principle of giving a month’s time between announcement of the polls and the date of nomination, Sampath said three weeks is the outer limit but the timeline can be reduced to two weeks or even one week.
Giving more time would have been a ritual than a requirement as people were anticipating polls for a very long time, he said.
Election Commissioner Brahma said the campaign for the election had begun 15 days ago and, therefore, not much time is now required for electioneering. The updated electoral rolls have already been published on January 5 and flaws like duplicate names and images of voters have been rectified to a large extent, the Commission said. A supplementary list of electors would be issued on January 21, the last date of nominations.
The last government in Delhi was headed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) but Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal resigned 49 days after assuming office. AAP, which made its debut in Delhi in the 2013 Assembly polls, had won 28 seats while BJP had bagged 31 seats. AAP had formed the government with the support of Congress (8 MLAs) and JD(U) (one). The state Assembly was dissolved on November 4 last. A total of 11,763 polling stations will be in place for the election with the EC asking the Delhi poll body to try to ensure that the polling booths are on the ground floor for the advantage of the disabled.
VVPAT or Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail, a system that allows voters to get a visual confirmation on a piece of paper of who they voted for, will be used in the New Delhi and Cantonment constituencies. Sampath said as Delhi is a metropolis, the EC will be extra careful on the use of money power in elections and sufficient number of expenditure observers will be deployed.
He said flying squads, static units, video units and officials of state excise and the income tax departments will keep a close vigil to ensure that money power does not disturb the level playing field. To a question on whether election advertisement was allowed on auto rickshaws, he said the matter is pending in court.
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