Voting is underway for the bypoll in Delhi’s Rajinder Nagar seat to elect a new MLA. The bypoll is largely being seen as a battle between the Aam Aadmi Party and BJP for the crucial assembly constituency.
Congress has fielded a former councillor, Premlata, but the party has not been able to win this seat in the last eight years.
The seat fell vacant after Aam Aadmi Party MLA Raghav Chadha resigned and got elected to the Rajya Sabha from Punjab after his party bagged a big win in the state.
Shortly before the polling began, actor Sonam Kapoor, in a video message, urged the voters to come out and vote. She was chosen as the “icon” for the New Delhi District by poll authorities and her pictures were used on posters and social media to reach out to the voters in the area.
“I appeal to all the voters in Rajinder Nagar assembly constituency to come out with their family members and friends and vote in the June 23 bypoll,” she said in her message.
A total of 1,64,698 electors are eligible to cast vote in this constituency
The voting began at 7 am and will end at 6 pm.The main battle is between AAP’s Durgesh Pathak and BJP’s Rajesh Bhatia.
When NDTV reached a polling station in the area today, there were long queues of voters, most of which were senior citizens. 83-year-old Devki Nandan Kapoor said, “It is our duty towards the nation to come and vote. I would appeal to all young voters to also step out of their homes and cast their vote.”
Another 83-year-old Sudesh Iqbal who was assisted with a wheelchair by the polling booth staff said, “I face difficulty in walking but I am glad they have helped me. The process was very efficient and it took me barely a few minutes to cast my vote and come out.”
Another resident, 40-year-old Geeta Sharma said, “The main issue here is of roads. They are in a very bad condition and there are pits all around. Water supply is also not regular. Another menace is of street dogs.”
Delhi’s Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh who came to inspect the polling booth told NDTV, “The process has been going on smoothly so far and all arrangements are in place We have also set up a few pink booths where the entire process is being managed by female staff. We are happy to see that voters are turning out and a lot of senior citizens and people with disabilities have been provided with wheelchairs. Special arrangements have been made for people who are Covid positive or are in quarantine. They can come and vote between 5 to 6 pm and healthcare workers in PPEs will assist them. Ambulances have also been placed around polling stations in case of any health emergency.”
Six companies of central armed police forces have been deployed across the constituency. Additionally, Delhi Police personnel and home guards have also been deployed at polling booths. The deployment includes female police and paramilitary personnel.
The campaigning saw AAP’s top leaders, including Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Several Union Ministers, including Piyush Goyal and Smriti Irani, campaigned for the BJP.
The BJP has accused AAP’s candidate Durgesh Pathak of being an “outsider” as he had earlier contested from the Karawal Nagar constituency. The BJP said its candidate Rajesh Bhatia is a resident of the area and understands the problems of the locals better. The AAP on the other hand has dismissed these allegations and said that BJP already knows that it will be defeated which is why it did not field its Delhi chief Aadesh Gupta for the seat.
The AAP holds majority in the assembly with 62 seats of the total 70 seats while BJP currently holds eight seats. So, the outcome of the Rajinder Nagar bypoll will not have an effect on the power structure.
However, it is being watched closely by the parties in order to assess the public mood since the municipal elections may take place by the end of this year or early next year.
AAP’s Vijender Garg won the Rajinder Nagar constituency in 2015 followed by Raghav Chadha in 2020.Raghav Chadha had won from AAP with a margin of over 20,000 votes.
The results will be declared on June 26.