The stage is set for voting in the Bawana assembly bypoll tomorrow, with the three main contenders -- the BJP, AAP and the Congress -- hoping for a victory in the election, being seen as the barometer of their political influence.
Nearly three lakh people are eligible to cast votes at 379 polling stations set up across the constituency in north-west Delhi. Results of the bypoll will be announced on August 28.
Though the AAP enjoys an overwhelming majority in the assembly, a victory in the bypoll would be a shot in the arm for the party after successive setbacks in the civic polls, the Rajouri Garden assembly by-election and the assembly elections in Punjab and Goa. It has fielded Ram Chander from the constituency.
The BJP, which has just four members in the 70-member assembly, hopes to maintain its winning streak in the national capital where it is hoping to return to power.
The other major contender is of the Congress, which is trying hard to open its account after being relegated to zero in the 70-member Delhi Legislative Assembly. The Congress has fielded its former three time MLA from Bawana, Surender Kumar.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet colleagues and top AAP leaders campaigned hectically in the constituency.
The BJP has fielded Ved Prakash, who won from Bawana in 2015 Assembly elections as an AAP candidate. He resigned from the MLA post and quit the AAP to join the BJP in March this year.
EVMs equipped with voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) will be used in the bypoll, said a statement from the Chief Electoral Officer, Delhi.
The number of male, female and third gender electors are 1,64,114; 1,30,143; and 25, respectively. The average number of voters per polling station stands at 776.
Out of 379 polling stations in the constituency, 311 have less than 1,000 registered electors, while 68 have more than 1,000 registered electors, it said.
Crucial test for Kejriwal
Other than the need to shrug off the successive defeats in Punjab, Goa polls, Rajouri Garden by-election and the municipal polls, the Bwana bypoll will be crucial for the Chief Miniser. The party and its leader are out on a ‘course correction’.
Kejriwal has let go of his continuous tirades against the Centre and the Prime Minister and is also trying to establish his party’s credentials in Delhi. He has toned down his anti-BJP offensive and is seen less active on Twitter.
The significance Kejriwal himself attaches to the Bawana bypoll can be gauged from the multiple visits he has made to the poll-bound constituency in the last two months or so. In July, social media was abuzz with images and videos of Kejriwal in Bawana that showed Kejriwal admiring local wrestlers in Bawana. Another showed him taking a walk through the water-logged streets to meet residents.
While Kejriwal has made it a point to be measured in his responses, he realizes well that more than the battle for one seat, it is a battle of prestige that he can ill-afford to ignore.