MCD Elections: Delhi Records 50% Voter Turnout In MCD Polls Amid Complaints Of Names Missing In Voter List

Municipal Corporation of Delhi polls (MCD elections) are crucial for Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal as they seek expansion ahead of 2024 national elections. A victory in the MCD polls will cement AAP's place in Delhi and help it become a strong force against BJP nationally.

Voting for MCD elections in Delhi

Delhi on Sunday recorded 50 per cent voter turnout in Municipal Corporation of Delhi polls (MCD elections). 

While the voting went smootly without any security-related incident or electronic voting maching (EVM) glitch, several voters and Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) flagged the issue of missing names in voter lists.

This is the first time MCD elections are taking place after Delhi's three civic bodies (east, north, and south) were unified into one MCD. This is also the first time that elections have taken place in Delhi after the 2020 Delhi Riots. Following the delimitation with the MCD unification, the number of wards were reduced to 250 from 272.

In the last MCD elections in 2017, the votern turn out was 53 per cent.

No major glitches in EVMs were reported and the voting passed off peacefully with high security observed at the 3,360 critical booths in 493 locations where more than 25,000 police personnel, nearly 13,000 home guards and 100 companies of paramilitary forces were deployed, officials said.

The duration of voting was 8 am-5:30 pm. The counting of votes will take place on Wednesday.

Political importance of MCD elections

The polls are crucial for the AAP and Kejriwal as they seek expansion of the party ahead of 2024 general elections in the country. A victory in the MCD polls will not only cement AAP's place in Delhi but will fuel its aspiration to emerge as a serious contender to the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the national scene.

The BJP, which had deployed its top leaders, including national president JP Nadda, 19 Union ministers like Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, and Piyush Goyal, and chief ministers of six states in the campaign, is also seeking redemption through a morale-boosting victory. The party received a drubbing at the hands of AAP in the 2020 Delhi Assembly polls and won just eight of the 70 seats.

With a unified MCD led by a mayor of the party, the BJP can continue to challenge the AAP and Kejriwal in the national capital's politics.

Complaints with voter lists, boycott

Meanwhile, several voters as well as AAP and BJP were raised complaints over missing names in voter lists.

"I came here to cast my vote for the first time. I found that my name is not mentioned in the list. Officials don't have a clue. I am standing for the past few hours but nobody is helping me,” 19-year-old Puneet Kumar said.

Anil Kumar, the Delhi Congress president, also did not find his name on the list.

"My name is neither on the voters' list nor on the deleted list. My wife has voted," Kumar said at a polling booth in Dallupura in East Delhi.

Kumar blamed the BJP for the exclusion of names from voter lists. He claimed “lakhs of people” have been removed from the voters' list by the BJP to “delay its defeat”. 

Polling booths in Bawana’s Katewara village were all empty as the residents in the area boycotted elections alleging negligence from the civic body. One of the residents of Katewara village Krishna Vats claimed that the residents unanimously decided to boycott the elections at the polling booths in Nangal Thakran ward.

"The civic body as well as the Delhi government always neglected people here, so why should we cast our votes? Main roads are broken, drains are clogged and MCD schools are in pathetic conditions here," Vats told PTI.

BJP MP Manoj Tiwari alleged that the names of several hundred voters were deleted in Mauj Pur and Yamuna Vihar areas in his North East Delhi constituency at the behest of the ruling AAP.

"I have talked to State Election Commissioner and lodged a complaint with him. We will seek cancellation of the polls here if needed," Tiwari told reporters at a Maujpur ward, adding that he will also explore legal options.

BJP-AAP trade unfair practices allegations

Meanwhile, the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party accused each other of violating the model code of conduct during voting.

Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor alleged that recorded messages of Kejriwal appealing to people to vote for the AAP were received by lakhs of people on the day of polling. No immediate reaction was available from the Aam Aadmi Party.

AAP MLA Dilip Pandey told reporters that people are going to punish the BJP for its 15 years of misrule of the civic bodies and Tiwari should "stop crying foul".

AAP candidate from Pushp Vihar in South Delhi Arun Nawariya alleged BJP workers  distributed money to influence voters.

(With PTI inputs)