After its losses in the assembly elections of Punjab and Goa, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is set to face the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress in yet another electoral battle. Elections to the three Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCDs) will be held on 22 April and votes will be counted on 25 April, the Election Commission announced on Tuesday.
The announcement comes amid a controversy over the use of electronic voting machines or EVMs. Delhi chief minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal raised concerns over their use and directed chief secretary M.M. Kutty to write to the state election commission to request them to use ballot papers in the elections.
The move comes after Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati raised allegations of EVM tampering after her party’s poor performance in the UP assembly election.
Delhi Election Commissioner S.K. Srivastava said, “Voting through EVMs is very safe. And if the polls are to be held through ballot then some of the rules have to be amended. We started preparations for the polls keeping in mind use of EVMs only. The dates have been assigned accordingly.”
Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken also asked Kejriwal to hold civic elections through ballot papers. AAP, which has 67 of the 70 seats in the Delhi legislative assembly, wants a win in the civic polls to implement its election promises.
On the other hand, the BJP has signalled a shift in its strategy ahead of the civic polls in the national capital to bring fresh faces and check nepotism. Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said on Tuesday his party will give tickets to new faces in the polls and not allow sitting councillors to contest.
“We have unanimously decided to field fresh faces. Even family members of councillors and party leaders will not be given tickets,” he said.
The BJP has led the three civic bodies since 2007. There are 272 seats in the three bodies—North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC).
The nomination process will start on 27 March; 3 April is the last date for filing nominations and scrutiny of nominations will take place on 5 April. The last date for withdrawal of nominations is 8 April. The commission has also hiked the expenditure limit for candidates from Rs5 lakh to Rs5.75 lakh.
PTI contributed to the story