Delhi goes to polls in heated contest

Voters in capital cast ballots with hopes of ending corruption and inflation in third phase of India’s elections.

More than 100 million new Indian voters are expected to cast their ballots [Baba Umar/Al Jazeera]

New Delhi – Voters in New Delhi waited in long queues to cast ballots in the third stage of India’s nine-phased parliamentary elections, with hopes of controlling inflation, ushering in development and ending corruption.

Residents of the capital on Thursday started gathering at the poll stations in the early hours under the watchful eye of thousands of police and election authorities.

An estimated 12.7 million voters will decide the outcome of seven lower house seats for which 150 candidates of several political parties are contesting.

“My vote today will be for a strong leader who will steer away the country from inflation and corruption,” Rajan Kumar, 37, an ardent opposition BJP supporter, told Al Jazeera at New Delhi’s Chandni Chowk area.

“I’ll be voting for the new leadership.”

Stalwarts like ruling Congress’s Kapil Sibal; former minister Ajay Maken; New Delhi BJP president Harsh Vardhan; Sandeep Dikshit, son of former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit; BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi; and Aam Admi Party’s (AAP) Ashish Khetan are some of the contestants vying for the seats.

“My leader is a great man. If he wins he will help end communalism which has dented our society,” said Haji Furqaan Baksh, 60, of Balimaran in the capital. “The new leadership is expected to help end poverty and inflation too.”

Smooth parliamentary elections in New Delhi are expected to pave way for the next assembly elections after AAP leader, activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal, resigned from his post as chief minister, a mere 49 days after being sworn in, pushing the capital for president’s rule.

Outside the capital

Polls are also taking place in 10 constituencies in the crucial north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh including riot-hit Muzaffarnagar, Aligarh, Bijnor, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad, Saharanpur, Kairana, Bulandshahar and Gautambudh Nagar.

While the polls include new voices like anti-corruption crusader AAP, it is also expected to play out old rivalry between the BJP and the Congress.

Haji Furqaan Baksh outside a polling booth in Bilimaran of old Delhi [Baba Umar/ Al Jazeera]

Another important state voting today is Bihar where six of the total of 40 parliamentary seats will are being contested.

In Sasaram constituency, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar is seeking another victory.

Authorities have kept stringent security measures in place in the areas where Naxal rebels are present followed by repeated boycott threats.

Haryana state is also holding elections for all of its 10 seats, with a triangular contest between Congress, BJP and AAP candidates.

Among leading candidates in Haryana are AAP’s Yogendra Yadav, Congress’ Naveen Jindal, Deepender Hooda, and Rao Inderjit Singh who switched over from Congress to BJP.

The southern Indian state Kerala is witnessing polling in all its 20 seats while the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is holding elections in nine seats.

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Source: Al Jazeera