All the exit polls released after the end of polling for the 70-member Delhi Assembly elections on Saturday evening predicted a comprehensive win for the incumbent Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The counting of votes will take place on Tuesday.
The Election Commission (EC) said voter turnout until 9 pm was recorded at 59.91 per cent, a decline of about 7 per cent over the 2015 Assembly polls’ 67.5 per cent.
The India Today-Axis exit poll, which has had relatively better accuracy compared with most other such polls in the recent past, predicted a sweep for AAP and a rout for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It forecast 59 to 68 seats for AAP and 2 to 11 seats for the BJP. According to the poll, AAP may bag a vote share of 56 per cent, the BJP 35 per cent, the Congress 5 per cent, and others 4 per cent. Other exit polls predicted somewhat better numbers for the BJP, but none put it anywhere near the halfway mark of 35 seats.
In the 2015 elections, AAP had won 67 of the 70 seats with a vote share of 54.3 per cent, while the BJP won three seats with a 32 per cent vote share. The Congress could not win any seats though it had a vote share of 9.6 per cent.
Delhi BJP President Manoj Tiwari tweeted that all exit polls would be proven wrong on the counting day. “Please save this tweet. The BJP will form the government in Delhi with 48 seats. Please don’t blame EVMs (electronic voting machines) then,” Tiwari said. There could be implications on his continuance as the Delhi unit BJP chief if the party performs poorly.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia thanked all party workers and supporters. “We are on course to secure a massive win,” he tweeted. At its press conference, the EC said the Delhi polls had recorded one of the lowest EVM replacement figures. It said a meagre 0.3 per cent EVM machines were replaced and 0.9 per cent VVPAT (voter-verified paper audit trail) were replaced.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the EVM replacement was as high as 5 per cent.
Amid allegations that some political parties distributed liquor and cash, the EC said law enforcement agencies seized liquor worth Rs 2.83 crore and narcotics and gold jewelry worth Rs 42.32 crore.
The Delhi Assembly polls took place amid a vituperative election campaign, with some BJP politicians barred from campaigning and in the shadow of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests at several places in the city, particularly at Shaheen Bagh in Southeast Delhi.
At Shaheen Bagh, women protesters, on a sit-in for over a month, voted in batches so that the agitation remains unaffected.
If AAP were to secure a win, this will be the third time it will form the government since its electoral debut in 2013.