The Delhi assembly elections will be held on February 8 and the results will be announced February 11, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said Monday.
The announcement of the poll schedule comes at a time when the Capital has been witnessing protests, some of them violent, against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
Asked about the law and order situation in the Capital, against the backdrop of the poll announcement, Arora said the Election Commission held interactions “at all levels”, including the Delhi Police, Delhi Chief Secretary and the Union Home Ministry, and was “quite hopeful” that the government machinery would “control the situation” and ensure conducive conditions for elections.
“In any case, if there is an extraordinary situation during the poll process, then there are provisions to defer polls,” he said.
“Last time, the announcement was made on January 12, and the polls were notified on January 14. There was some criticism that candidates and parties didn’t have enough time for preparation, hence the announcement today. There is a week’s gap between announcement and notification this time,” Arora said.
The notification for the polls will be issued on January 14 while the last date for withdrawal of candidature will be January 24.
Asked about the Union Budget, that will be announced while the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is in force in Delhi, Arora said the EC’s decision of 2017 is clear, and the state and union government cannot make any announcement that is state-specific. He refused to comment on the criticism of the EC’s role in enforcing the model code. However, Arora cited the example of the EC barring a chief minister (Yogi Adityanath) from campaigning during the Lok Sabha polls, to make the point that the poll panel could take tough steps during the Delhi polls too.
In the 2015 Delhi Assembly elections, the AAP won 67 of the 70 seats. The BJP got the remaining three seats, while the Congress drew a blank. While the AAP secured 54.3% of the votes, BJP got 32%.
Soon after the poll schedule was announced on Monday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the AAP would seek votes on the work done by its government in the last five years, and added that his party would run a “positive” campaign.
BJP president Amit Shah accused the AAP government of “misleading” the people of Delhi. “I am confident that through this festival of democracy, the government led by a party which misled people for five years and made hollow promises will be defeated, and a government will be formed under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that can fulfil the people’s aspirations,” he tweeted.
Kirti Azad, campaign committee chairman of the Congress’s Delhi unit, said: “We are prepared and will run an aggressive campaign, which will compare the work done by the Congress under (former chief minister) Sheila Dikshit and the current (Arvind) Kejriwal government in Delhi”.
There are a total of 1.46 crore registered voters in Delhi — 80,55,686 men, 66,35,635 women and 815 belonging to the third gender.