In an assembly voting began for by-election in Delhi in this morning that is seen as career-altering for Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, whose Aam Aadmi Party has been on a steep downward slide since it swept the elections in the national capital in 2015.
The result of today's by-election in Bawana will be seen to indicate how much influence Delhi's ruling party still has with the voters of the only state it governs. It also tests the popularity of parties ahead of the 2019 national election, in which the BJP hopes to replicate its seven of seven win in 2014. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is said to be watching today's by-election closely.
The elections are being held because AAP's legislator Ved Parkash had quit to join the BJP in March this year, just ahead of municipal elections. By the BJP the opposition party AAP was trounced in the Delhi civic polls, only weeks after being pummelled in assembly elections in Punjab and Goa.
Mr Parkash is now the BJP's candidate in Bawana and the party is sure he will win again, fetching it one more seat in the Delhi assembly. The party AAP had won 67 of Delhi's 70 seats in 2015, currently has 65 legislators. The BJP which had won three seats then, now has four, having won a by-election for the Rajouri Garden seat in April this year.
AAP has in fact won no election since the assembly polls and Bawana is seen as a chance for Arvind Kejriwal to prove that he and his party are still politically relevant. AAP's candidate is Ram Chandra and the Chief Minister, his ministers and other top cabinet colleagues campaigned hard in Bawana, with Mr Kejriwal camping there every Sunday for the past few weeks, exhorting voters to choose his party again.
Alleged by Ved Parkash, who is now the BJP's candidate, that he quit AAP because he was unable to work for his constituency as Mr Kejriwal deployed every resource for the Punjab assembly elections soon after winning Delhi.
A seasoned politician Surender Kumar the Congress has fielded, who has been the Bawana MLA three times. Delhi for 15 years till 2013 the party, which governed, drew a blank in the 2015 assembly elections, winning not a single seat.
By-elections are also being held in two assembly seats in Goa, where Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is contesting today to join the state assembly, and in Nandyal in Andhra Pradesh.