Delhi goes to polls in penultimate phase of Indian parliamentary elections

Although the opposition Aam Aadmi Party has ruled the capital city since 2013, the Bharatiya Janata Party won all seven Lok Sabha seats in 2019

People queue up to cast their vote in the sixth round of polling in India's national election in New Delhi. AP
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Residents in the Indian capital Delhi will be casting their votes in the penultimate phase of the world’s largest elections on Saturday in the last leg of the seven-phase elections to elect 543 members to the Lok Sabha – the lower house of Parliament.

889 candidates will be seeking election across 58 constituencies in six states and two federally-ruled territories in the sixth and second-last phase on Saturday.

More than 110 million voters including 58 million men and 52 million women are registered to vote, and 23,000 people above the age of 100.

In Delhi, the contest is between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and the ruling Aam Aadmi Party- both members of the opposition INDIA bloc alliance.

The city was once a stronghold of Congress, but over the past decade, the party has seen a rapid electoral decline after Mr Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP rose to power in 2014.

Although the AAP has ruled the capital city since 2013, the BJP won all seven Lok Sabha seats in 2019 and 2014.

For Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s Chief Minister and AAP founding member, the elections are a test before the assembly elections in the city next year.

He has been facing a jail term over alleged money laundering and is out on interim bail until June 1.

He was arrested in March on allegations of accepting bribes of about 1 billion rupees ($12 million) to pass an alcohol policy favourable to private businesses.

Mr Kejriwal claimed that his arrest was “illegal” and carried out at the command of Mr Modi to intimidate and weaken him before polls.

Among the prominent candidates in Delhi are Bansuri Swaraj, daughter of former External Affairs Minister late Sushma Swaraj, Kanhaiya Kumar, a student leader and a fierce critic of Mr Modi and two-time parliamentarian Manoj Tiwari, an actor and singer.

Other states holding elections are neighbouring Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, eastern states of Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal and the federal territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

The elections are being held amid a severe heatwave that has gripped northern India.

The temperature in Delhi was hovering at about 40ºC at 7am when polling began. The national weather agency has warned the temperatures may rise to 44ºC by noon.

The Election Commission of India has arranged shaded areas and covered waiting zones with air coolers and water centres at polling stations.

Elections began on April 19 and will conclude on June 1. The counting of votes will take place on June 4.

Updated: May 25, 2024, 7:50 AM