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Delhi faces 2-party test

New Delhi, Dec. 3: Delhi faces a test tomorrow as a two-party state as voters decide whether to embrace the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), a social movement-turned-political outfit backed by a lot of buzz, and its call to reject traditional parties.

Sunday’s results will show whether AAP mascot Arvind Kejriwal’s appeal to “transform the political system”, along with his party’s promise of cheap power and other sops, has been embraced or the people have gone with the Congress and the BJP.

The AAP, backed by an army of college-goers, young professionals and retired personnel, ran what seemed to many an extraordinary campaign to “sweep out corruption and the corrupt politicians” with the emblematic broom as its poll symbol.

The AAP’s high-pitched propaganda — similar to Anna Hazare’s 2011 Lokpal agitation of which Kejriwal was a part — has created a lot of buzz among the city’s sizeable middle-class population and slum-dwellers.

Kejriwal spent the election-eve praying. “Went to Hanuman temple and Bangla Sahib Gurdwara. Prayed for a corruption free India,” tweeted Kejriwal, who floated the AAP last year.

But the former revenue service officer seemed aware it would not be easy for the buzz to translate into votes. “Pl go out and vote tomorrow and take your neighbours along,” he tweeted.

Other AAP leaders went further, alleging their mainstream rivals were trying to “buy votes” with money and free liquor.

“Our volunteers are keeping a watch on illegal activities of the mainstream political parties as they try to buy votes with money and alcohol. We will not allow it,” said Dinesh Vaghela, a retired government employee from Goa camping in Delhi as an AAP volunteer.

The AAP leaders claimed 2,000 spy cameras had been installed in slums where they suspect attempts would be made to bribe voters. “Kudos to AAP volunteers for getting cash seized in Narela. Total 145 cases registered in liquor related cases, 155 arrested. More than 1.5 crore rupees seized,” an AAP tweet claimed.

Regardless of the outcome, the AAP has made the going difficult for the Congress and the BJP with its massive door-to-door campaigns and promise of cheap electricity and water that the rivals struggled to match.

Some AAP leaders claimed their appeal had caught the attention of female voters most and the party was banking on their support to a large chunk of the 70 seats in the Delhi Assembly.

“The response of the women voters is particularly exciting. We have lots of reports about women coaxing their husbands to vote for the AAP,” said party leader Laxman Rai.