Over 1.10 lakh people are eligible to exercise their franchise for the first time in the upcoming high-stakes municipal polls in Delhi. Elections to the three BJP-led corporations will be held on April 23 and the youth population is considered a crucial segment of the voters in the national capital. “We are preparing for the polls as per the schedule. This would be the first civic poll after the latest delimitation which has redrawn the civic wards. “For this election, there are 1,10,639 people who would be voting for the first time, out of which 24,825 are those who have recently turned 18. The rest are aged 19 or above,” Delhi State Election Commissioner S K Srivastava told PTI.
As per the new delimitation exercise, based on 2011 Census, each ward now has an average of 60,000 people with an estimated 40,000 voters. The State Election Commission is running awareness campaigns, in print, and on radio and television to encourage people to exercise their franchise in this election for the 272 ward councillors.
Delhi has 70 Assembly seats and before the delimitation, every constituency had four wards, but, now it ranges from 3- 7. The erstwhile unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was trifurcated in 2012 into North, South and East Municipal Corporations. While NDMC and SDMC have 104 wards each, EDMC has 64.
“For the first time in MCD elections, None Of The Above (NOTA) option will be available. Also, the number of candidates in the wards range from a minimum of three to 21- 23, in some of them. Most of them have around 15 candidates. One EVM can accommodate 16 candidates, for more than that, a second unit is attached,” he said.
The BJP, which has been ruling the MCD for the last 10 years, has decided to field none of its 153 sitting councillors and contest the polls with only fresh faces. While the BJP, fresh from its win in the Rajouri Garden bypoll, is seeking to retain its turf, the Congress, which finished second, is hoping for a resurgence.
The AAP is aiming to replicate its 2015 Delhi Assembly performance but its humiliating defeat in the bye-election may have hit the morale of the party led by Arvind Kejriwal, who has said, the results should not be seen as a “trailer of the MCD polls”. The Generation-1 electronic voting machines (EVMs) are to be used for the MCD elections, which the Commission has described as “foolproof”.
The total number of electorate for the civic polls stands at 1,32,10,206 which include 73,15,915 men, 58,93,418 women and 793 voters in the other category.