Delhi votes in first real test for Modi
7 Feb BBC
Polling stations have opened in Delhi for state elections billed as
the first real test of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity.
Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded former policewoman
Kiran Bedi as its pick for chief minister.But polls suggest she is
likely to lose to Arvind Kejriwal, an anti-corruption activist who heads
his own party.Mr Modi won convincingly in last summer's general
election, and has ridden a wave of popularity ever since.
Over 13 million people are eligible to vote at 12,000 polling centres
in the state assembly elections.Security is tight and more than 55,000
police and paramilitary have been deployed.
Official results for the 70-member state assembly are due on
Tuesday.Both Mr Kejriwal and Ms Bedi are former civil servants - he
worked in the revenue department while she was India's first woman
police officer, Both won the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award - Mr
Kejriwal for fighting corruption and Ms Bedi for prison reform,Both
campaigned with anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare during his 2011
protest.In recent months, the BJP won a string of state assembly
But correspondents say a tough fight awaits them in Delhi, where
several surveys have put Mr Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ahead of
The Congress party, which ran the Indian capital for 15 years until
2013, is predicted to come a distant third.
Delhi has been without a government since Mr Kejriwal, the former
chief minister, resigned last February, angered that his anti-corruption
bill was blocked.
Since then the state has been governed directly by the federal
authorities.Ms Bedi and Mr Kejriwal worked together during the
anti-corruption campaign, led by social activist Anna Hazare, but the
two have since developed an intense rivalry. During weeks of hectic
campaigning in Delhi, both candidates promised to bring in good
governance, end corruption and make Delhi safe for women.
In the previous Delhi election held in December 2013, the BJP won the
most seats but fell short of a majority, leaving the AAP - which came
second - to form a coalition with the Congress party.
Mr Kejriwal resigned on 14 February after 49 days in office, however,
after opposition politicians blocked a bill that would have created an
independent body with the power to investigate politicians and civil
servants suspected of corruption.13.3 million voters; 12,083 polling
stations,70 seats; 673 candidates, 63 of whom are women.