Ex-minister poised to win Delhi poll

Aam Aadmi Party's Kejriwal looking to complete comeback and deliver first blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party.

    Ex-minister poised to win Delhi poll
    Most polls say Kejriwal's anti-corruption party is set to push Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party into second place [Reuters]

    Voters have started going to the polls in India's capital, with former chief minister Arvind Kejriwal looking to complete a surprise comeback and deliver the first major blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party.

    A steady stream of voters could be seen outside polling booths when they opened in New Delhi at 8:00am local time (02:30 GMT) on Saturday.

    Less than a year on from his resignation as head of Delhi's state government - after just 49 days - most polls say Kejriwal's anti-corruption party is set to push Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into second place when results are announced on Tuesday.

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    While polls have been badly wrong in the past, victory would be particularly sweet for the former taxman, who was trounced by Modi when they both contested the parliamentary constituency of Varanasi in May's general election.

    Most pundits had written off Kejriwal, especially after his Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party won just four seats in parliament.

    But after apologising for leaving voters without an elected government for a year, Kejriwal has been the star of the campaign, outshining former policewoman Kiran Bedi who is the BJP's candidate for chief minister.

    "People want a corruption free and bribery free Delhi and I'm hopeful they will vote accordingly," Kejriwal told reporters as he went to vote.

    "I am confident the people will win and that the truth will win."

    Opponent upbeat

    Bedi appeared equally upbeat, flashing a victory sign to photographers after she voted.

    "Today the people of Delhi have to decide what kind of Delhi they want: do they want a city that is clean, safe and secure?," she said.

    The BJP's campaign has been beset by divisions, with many activists cool towards the 65-year-old Bedi who has a history of disparaging the party.

    A former reality TV show host, Bedi is a seasoned media performer. But Kejriwal has proved his pulling power among working class and minority voters, with impromptu appearances drawing thousands.

    Kejriwal's campaign has been based around pledges to deliver lower utility bills and free wifi for Delhi's 17 million residents, as well as promising to counter corruption.

    Polls close later on Saturday but the ballot counting will not begin until Tuesday.

    SOURCE: AFP


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