The North East Delhi seat, where Congress’ JP Agarwal, BJP’s Manoj Tiwari and AAP’s Anand Kumar are in the fray, registered the highest turnout (55%), followed by West Delhi (54%).
The turnout was also high in East Delhi and New Delhi at 52%. Northwest Delhi stood at 51%, South Delhi at 50% and Chandni Chowk at 49%.
The Lok Sabha elections in Delhi are seen as a test of the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP’s) support base, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) claim of having a ‘Modi wave’ besides assertion by Congress that it was regaining lost ground after suffering massive defeat in assembly polls.
Union minister Kapil Sibal, Delhi BJP chief Harsh Vardhan, Congress general secretary Ajay Maken and Delhi’s chief electoral officer Vijay Dev were also among the early voters.
Sonia, accompanied by Maken and Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely, came to the polling station at Nirman Bhavan in central Delhi around 9:30am and went straight inside the booth to vote as there was no queue.
She is a voter in the New Delhi constituency from where Maken is contesting to retain the seat for the third consecutive term.
Talking to reporters, Maken, who is contesting from prestigious New Delhi constituency, exuded confidence of regaining support of the Congress vote bank which he said had gone to the AAP in the assembly polls four months back.
“People who voted for Arvind Kejriwal were traditional Congress voters who will vote for us this time. We will win all seven seats. There is no Modi wave,” Maken told reporters.
Clad in a while kurta-pyjama, Rahul cast his vote at booth number 88 at Aurangazeb Lane at 10:20am. He was also accompanied by Maken and Lovely. As there was no queue, Rahul also went straight inside the booth to cast his vote.
After casting his vote at a polling booth near his residence in Tilak Lane, Kejriwal said the Congress had already accepted its defeat while Narendra Modi was thinking that he had become the prime Minister.
An early AAP internal assessment projected it would win four seats: New Delhi, Chandni Chowk, East and West Delhi. However, another internal survey, closer to voting day, claimed the party would sweep all seven.
The BJP, on the other hand, feels it has a good chance in West, South, North East and North West Delhi. The saffron party is also hopeful of a sweep, riding on prime minister nominee Narendra Modi’s direct pitch to voters.
The Congress, which took a beating in the assembly polls, is hoping to stage a comeback.
All eyes are on the Capital to know if Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari’s appeal to Muslims to support the Congress will have any impact.
Chandni Chowk has a sizeable Muslim population. It will see a mega fight of BJP candidate Harsh Vardhan, Union minister Kapil Sibal and AAP’s Ashutosh, a journalist-turned-politician.
Besides, North East Delhi has the highest share of Muslim population (close to 30%) and East Delhi has more than 16% Muslims.
The Congress’ internal survey says it is winning the New Delhi seat and faces a tough contest in Chandni Chowk, North East Delhi and East Delhi.
If Muslim votes go to the Congress, it could win at least two of these three seats.
(With inputs from Atul Mathur and Neelam Pandey)