Millions vote in Delhi state poll which could indicate how general election might play out

Turn-out for last of five local polls may have broken all previous records

Delhi

Teenager Mohammed Sahil had never voted before in is life. But on Wednesday afternoon when he headed to the polling station he had few doubts about which party he would be supporting.

“I voted for the Aam Aadmi (Common Man’s) party,” said the 18-year-old, sitting outside his family’s makeshift home in the centre of Delhi. “I hope the Aam Aadmi party will be able to solve my problems.”

Millions of people turned out to vote on Wednesday in a state poll that is being closely watched as a possible indicator to how a general election, due to be held by the spring, might play out.

The election for the Delhi state assembly is the last of five local polls being held before the general election and reports suggested the turn-out may have broken all previous records. And while the results of today’ vote are not due to  be announced until December 8, many people casting their vote said they wanted change.

“Prices are rising – vegetables, tomatoes, petrol,” said Mr Sahil, who works as a taxi driver. “My mother and father voted for the Congress party. I don’t like the Congress.”

It is the Congress party, headed by Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul, which runs both the federal government and the Delhi state government. But they face a very stiff challenge both within India’s capital as well as nationally.

The main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), appears to be riding on a wave of public interest generated by its charismatic but controversial leader Narendra Modi. Within Delhi, which the Congress has held for the past three terms, it faces competition not only from the BJP, but from the recently-formed Aam Aadmi party, which has highlighted price rises and corruption.

A handful of interviews can only ever provide a flavour of the public mood. But a number of voters on Wednesday said they were supporting the Aam Aadmi party and its leader, Arvind Kejriwal, a former tax official turned anti-corruption crusader, in order to try something new.

“The cost of everything is going up,” said a 27-year-old woman, Renu, who had cast her vote for the Aam Aadmi party at a polling booth in the constituency of the Congress chief minister, Sheila Dikshit.

She said she was considering voting for the BJP in next year’s general election but had wanted to give the new party an opportunity locally. “We are not sure, but we will give them a chance,” said Renu, who said she previously voted for the Congress party.

The battle for control of the Indian capital is always keenly contested, but this year’s vote is being particularly keenly watched, as many believe it could give a steer as to what could happen next year. Most exit polls taken on Wednesday suggested the BJP could win up to 30 seats in the 70-seat Delhi assembly, with the Congress in the mid 20s and the Aam Aadmi party getting up to 15.

“I don’t think the Delhi election is a bellwether in that the party that wins here need not necessarily presume things will go as well nationally in six months,” said Ashok Malik, a journalist and analyst.

He added: “However, if Sheila Dikshit takes the Congress to victory, she gives her party a potential prime ministerial candidate to take on Narendra Modi. If the BJP wins, it adds to the perception that the Congress has lost urban India to a newer generation of BJP politicians led by Modi. Thirdly, victory or defeat in Delhi will affect the morale of both the BJP and Congress.”

The Congress is scrambling to respond to Mr Modi, the chief minister of the state of Gujarat who was made the BJP’s official candidate earlier this year. While many still accuse him of failing to prevent the massacre of hundreds of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, Mr Modi has campaigned on a platform of being against corruption and in favour of development.

Meanwhile, the Congress government, led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has been fending off corruption scandals and claims that it has not done enough to introduce economic reforms that could revive a slowing economy.

It was reported that up to 66 per cent of voters turned out in Delhi, meaning that millions of people cast their vote at 11,753 polling stations. Security was tight, with 65,000 police officers and additional paramilitary troops on duty to prevent violence.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Bathroom Showroom Manager / Bathroom Sales Designer

£22 - £25k basic + Commission=OTE £35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Bathroom Sh...

Guru Careers: Marketing Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Marketing / Digital Marketing Executive (CRM, Eve...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

Recruitment Genius: IT Engineer

£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity now exists for a...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones