Campaigning ends in Delhi; poll tomorrow

Campaigning ends in Delhi; poll tomorrow

 As loudspeakers fell silent on the last day of campaigning in Delhi on Monday, all three key rivals in the December 4 Assembly elections — the ruling Congress, the BJP and the debutant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) — claimed to be heading for a landslide victory.

The election office seized Rs 1.32 crore unaccounted-for money during campaigning, detected five confirmed cases of paid news, registered 413 FIRs against political parties, filed 15 cases over misuse of vehicles during campaigning and confiscated 2,400 litre of liquor.

Padayatras were the most popular means of campaigning, apart from extensive use of loudspeakers to seek votes and play patriotic songs.

A hi-tech 3D rath (chariot) made its debut in the Delhi election campaign. The BJP brought it from Australia to woo voters with a visual experience that made the audience see their image on a screen with party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi leading them.

While Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit shouldered a bulk of the campaign responsibility for the Congress, party chief Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi also chipped in with rallies over the past few weeks. Modi led the BJP charge, which saw chief ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan and over a dozen national leaders and actors like Vinod Khanna and Shatrughan Sinha wooing voters.

For the AAP, Kejriwal was the star campaigner.

The official campaigning ended at 5 pm on Monday, but the 810 candidates are free over the next 48 hours to conduct closed-door meetings, said an election department official, indicating that final calculations on individual candidates’ poll expenses would take some time.

Each candidate is allowed to spend Rs 14 lakh on electioneering, and expected to maintain a proper account of all the expenses.

While Dikshit, 75, said her party would return to power for the fourth consecutive time, Harsh Vardhan, 66, said there was an anti-Congress wave, and AAP spokesperson Manish Sisodia claimed the party would emerge as surprise winners on December 8, when the votes would be counted.

Addressing multiple rallies and meetings, Dikshit slammed the rival parties for misleading voters by spreading falsehoods. “Either the opposition parties are naive or they are deliberately misleading people,” she said.

Dikshit also rubbished opinion polls showing a poor performance by the Congress in the elections. “I can’t help but smile at their results,” she said, claiming that her party would return to power on December 8. Harsh Vardhan also rounded off his busy day with a press conference, claiming that “on voting day, the electorate will hand down its verdict on the misrule of the Congress government and punish it for price rise, corruption, lack of basic amenities and hike in power and water tariffs”.

AAP spokesperson Sisodia claimed the party's campaigning had gone as per plan. “We are very satisfied with the public support. We are expecting a comfortable majority,” he said.

The Delhi election office said 413 FIRs were registered against political parties for poll-code violation during campaigning.

Delhi Revenue Minister Arvinder Singh is among the two Congress candidates who have appealed in the Chief Electoral Office against district committees’ decision of holding them guilty for their alleged role in getting paid news printed.

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