Delhi poll results will go down to the wire

NEW DELHI: A fierce and bitterly-fought campaign between the Aam Admi Party and the BJP for supremacy in the 70-member Delhi Assembly ended on Thursday evening.

The month-long electioneering had all the trappings of high drama as it was marked by an emotional outburst by BJP’s Chief Ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi, flash mob type dances by AAP’s youth brigade besides confiscation of large quantities of liquor and cash meant for distribution to the Delhi voters prior to polling on February 7.

The final outcome is sure to go down to the wire judging by the figures put out by pollsters about the fate of the BJP, AAP and the Congress. On Wednesday, most pollsters predicted that AAP would get a majority in the Assembly by bagging 36 to 41 seats, BJP 27-32 and the Congress two to seven.

It’s all about numbers now

AAP’s own psephologist Yogendra Yadav forecast a landslide victory on the basis of a survey he had conducted. It showed that his party would win 51 seats, leaving the BJP far behind with 15 seats and the Congress and others with just four. “It’s a wave in AAP’s favour”, he tweeted on Friday

These predictions spread panic among the ranks of the BJP whose leaders trashed the survey. The drew some solace from a survey results released by the Research and Development Initiative (RDI) on Thursday indicating a clear majority for the saffron party with 41-45 seats. AAP would get 21-25 seats and Congress & others 0-4.

What is common to all the surveys is finding that the Congress is set for yet another drubbing. The Congress party’s loss appears to be turning into AAP’s gain as Arvind Kejriwal’s party has done nothing dramatic to improve its popularity since the last elections in 2013 when it won 28 seats as against 32 bagged by the BJP and its ally, the Akali Dal.

An unusually high-decibel campaign  

The number crunching climaxed a high-decibel campaign in the Delhi elections which were barely noticed outside the national capital two decades ago because the focus as always on the outcome in UP and Bihar, the two that decided who the Prime Minister would be.

Mr. Narendra Modi spearheaded a no-holds barred campaign in Delhi so much so that his opponents, realizing the BJP’s weaknesses, declared it a referendum on him. The BJP’s stout refusal to accept this argument was viewed by its detractors as lack of confidence about the final results.

AAP found itself in the dock after a sting operation by rebels revealed that it allegedly accepted illegal donations of Rs. 2 crore through the hawala route. The charge denied by Mr. Kejriwal who challenged the Centre to order a probe.

A strong indication about the Delhi voters’ preference –either for Mr. Kejriwal or for Ms. Bedi — will be available when results of the exit polls are out on February 7 evening.

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