New Delhi, May 15: Voting began this morning for the Delhi municipal bypolls to 13 wards in which over 6 lakh electorate are eligible to decide the fate of 95 candidates in a triangular contest being considered the litmus test ahead of the 2017 civic body elections.
Both ruling BJP and Congress in MCD have exuded confidence of winning the electoral battle while AAP is seeking to replicate its assembly elections performance in its maiden outing at the civic hustings.
Polling began at 8 am amid ample security arrangement especially in north Delhi areas where the Delhi State Election Commission has identified polling stations as more sensitive than in other wards.
"Out of 695 polling stations, about 200 have been identified as sensitive and ultra-sensitive and adequate security arrangement has been made in those areas.
Among the three corporations, North Corporation area has been found the most sensitive for polling," the state election commission has said.
There are a total of 6,68,870 voters entitled to exercise their franchise in the by-elections for wards falling under three corporations - SDMC (7), NDMC (4) and EDMC (2). Voting will be held till 5 pm today.
Counting of votes will be held on May 17 and begin at the counting centres established in the 13 wards from 8 am. The Delhi State Election Commission has deployed about 2,500 staff to man its polling stations, some of which fall in outer Delhi areas.
The 13 wards going to bypolls are -- Quamruddin Nagar, Shalimar Bagh (North), Ballimaran, Nawada, Vikas Nagar, Matiala, Nanakpura, Munirka, Bhati, Tehkhand, Khichripur, Jhilmil and Wazirpur.
The by-elections have been necessitated due to 13 councillors getting elected to Delhi Assembly in 2013 and 2015. In the elections to the then unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi in 2012, BJP had held 7 seats out of these 13.
The same year MCD was trifurcated into North Corporation (NDMC), South Corporation (SDMC) and East Corporation (EDMC). In 2012 MCD elections, BJP candidates had won the Nangloi Jat, Shalimar Bagh (North) and Wazirpur wards, now falling under the NDMC.
Delhi BJP president Satish Upadhyay has claimed his party will poll "maximum share of votes" and give the "best" performance in the bypolls. Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken has also claimed the party candidates are getting overwhelming support from the people, saying it is a clear indication that Congress would "win" the MCD by-elections with "thumping margins".
Having won 67 of 70 seats in the Delhi Assembly elections, Aam Aadmi Party is upbeat in its maiden outing in the civic polls, aiming to replicate its performance. AAP contested two Assembly polls in the national capital - in 2013 and 2015, and the party has been highlighting "BJP's corruption" and "rotten" state of affairs in the civic bodies, an issue it seeks to leverage in this contest.
Former legislators Mahender Nagpal and Jitender Singh Shunty are contesting the elections from Wajirpur and Jhilmil wards respectively on BJP tickets.