- Arvind Kejriwal asked women to vote in large numbers
- Women's turnout could decide which party wins the election
- AAP had won 54.3 per cent of the vote in the 2015 assembly polls
Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi Chief Minister, this morning urged women to come out in large numbers and vote in the assembly election today.
"Definitely go and vote. A special appeal to all women, just as you take up the responsibility of the home, the responsibility of the nation and Delhi is with you. All of you women must go to vote and take the men in your families along with you. Discuss with men who it is who it right to vote for," Mr Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi minutes before 8 am when the polling began.
Mr Kejriwal, who is seeking another term from the New Delhi constituency, voted at the Rajpura Transport Authority polling station in the Civil Lines area. He was accompanied by his wife Sunita and son Pulkit. Before leaving for voting, he sought his parents' blessings. "You build the future of our children," Mr Kejriwal said, making the same appeal to women to come out and vote.
Women's turnout could be the make-or-break factor in deciding which party wins these elections. In the 2015 polls, in the top 20 constituencies with the highest turnout of women, the AAP won much more decisively than in the constituencies which had the lowest turnout of women. In the seats with a high turnout of women voters, the AAP's margin of victory was 5 per cent higher than in the seats where women's turnout was low.
The polling marks the end of a bitter face-off that saw exceptionally coarse language and communally-charged attacks.
The BJP, which won only three seats in the 70-member assembly in 2015, is looking to unseat the AAP in the national capital. The BJP has run its campaign on the strength of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's policies.
Tight security arrangements are in place across the national capital with extra vigil in south-east Delhi's Shaheen Bagh, where a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act is going on, and other sensitive areas.
The Congress, which ruled Delhi for 15 years before being decimated by the AAP, has led a relatively lacklustre campaign. The party's top leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have barely campaigned for its candidates.
In the 2015 assembly polls, the AAP had won 54.3 per cent of the vote, while the BJP got 32 per cent and the Congress managed just 9.6 per cent. While the AAP won 67 seats in 2015, since then the party has conceded one seat to the BJP in a bypoll and six of its lawmakers have been disqualified over joining other parties.