Confident Kejriwal eyes hat-trick as Delhi set for counting of votes

BJP trashes exit poll predictions, says it will win more than 45 seats and form government in Delhi

Exit polls had predicted an overwhelming victory for the party that harped on developmental agendas in its poll campaigns | PTI File

Delhi is set for counting of votes for the February 8 assembly elections with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday (February 10) asking AAP volunteers not to burst firecrackers during victory celebrations to prevent air pollution. Exit polls had predicted an overwhelming victory for the party that harped on developmental agendas in its poll campaigns.

Party functionaries said though preparations are underway to celebrate the poll victory, whose results will be announced on Tuesday, Kejriwal has asked party volunteers not to burst firecrackers as it contributes to pollution. The functionaries said other preparations for the celebration, including ordering sweets, are underway at the party headquarters.

Exit polls predicted a big victory for Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party with some indicating that it can even repeat its 2015 landslide when it had bagged 67 seats and reducing the BJP to three. Congress had drawn a blank. Reducing air pollution is one of the main guarantees given by AAP in both the party’s manifesto as well as in guarantee card.

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Interestingly, the Delhi unit of BJP too exuded confidence on the results eve that it would form government in the city but adopted a cautious approach on plans for celebrations amid exit polls predicting a sweep for the AAP. Delhi BJP leaders said no special arrangements have been made in advance for celebrations.

Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari asserted that his party will win more than 45 seats in 70-membered assembly and form the government. “Our confidence is based on a micro analysis of all the seats. The exit polls are rough estimates, I am confident that the BJP will form the government in Delhi with full majority,” he said.

Delhi BJP’s media relations head Neelkant Bakshi said after an in-depth analysis, “we have found that the BJP was ahead of the AAP in most of the seats”. “Our own feedback and analysis is contrary to the exit poll results. The exit polls missed the pulse of the people as they did not consider half of the total 62.59 percent votes polled on Saturday,” he said.

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Security personnel arrive at one of the counting centres for the Delhi assembly polls on Monday | PTI Photo

Delhi BJP’s media head Ashok Goyal said arrangements have been made for the party leaders and workers as well as mediapersons to follow the counting of votes from party’s office at Pant Marg. “LED screens have been put up and arrangements have also been made for live relays by the news channels,” he said.

Meanwhile, tight security arrangements have been put in place at various centres across the national capital for the counting of votes. The curiosity among people to know the outcome of the elections to the 70-member Delhi Assembly has heightened post-exit polls and the delay in announcement of the final voter turnout by authorities.

The election in the national capital was held on Saturday, sealing the fate of 672 candidates. Nearly 24 hours after the polling ended, the Election Commission on Sunday announced the final voter turnout, which was 62.59 per cent, and asserted that it followed the laid down process to compile data, after the AAP questioned the “delay”.

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Authorities in the Delhi CEO’s office are gearing up for the counting of votes and adequate arrangements have been made at the centres spread across 21 location in the national capital, spanning 11 districts, officials said. There will be 33 counting observers, officials said.

The counting centres are located at CWG Sports Complex in East Delhi, NSIT Dwarka in West Delhi, Meerabai Institute of Technology and GB Pant Institute of Technology in Southeast Delhi, Sir CV Raman ITI, Dheerpur in Central Delhi, and Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Bawana in North Delhi, among other places.

There were 13,780 polling booths where every vote was accounted for by the presiding officers which is a time-consuming exercise, Sandeep Saxena, Senior Deputy Election Commissioner, said at a press conference on Sunday. Critical and vulnerable polling locations, numbered 545 and spanned 3,843 booths.

(With inputs from agencies)

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