New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress are locked in a bitter fight to control the three civic bodies in the national capital. The BJP is leading in all the three civic bodies - South Delhi, North Delhi and East Delhi.
The BJP has established a huge lead in North Delhi and South, both of which have 104 seats each. The party is leading 55 seats with the Congress a distant second at 37 and others in 10. In South Delhi the BJP is comfortably ahead in 53 seats while Congress candidates are leading in 37 and smaller parties in 14.
In East Delhi the BJP has nosed ahead in 30 seats, Congress in 25 and others in nine. The East Delhi civic body has 64 seats.
Counting of votes for 272 wards across 33 centres began amid tight security at 8 am and all results are expected to come by 3 pm.
The elections are being seen as an acid test for Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. They are also crucial for the BJP as it looks to retain power. The early trends, however, suggest that the BJP may not be able to deliver as good a performance as it did in 2007.
Stakes are high for both the Congress and BJP, as it is considered as a semifinal ahead of Assembly elections in 2013.
Both Congress and BJP claimed their parties would sweep the polls. Delhi Congress chief JP Agarwal has said he was "100 per cent confident" about his party's victory while his BJP counterpart Vijender Gupta was "certain" his camp was going to win all the three Corporations.
There are 104 each wards in South and North Corporations and 64 in the East, of which 138 seats are reserved for women. South has the highest number of 904 candidates followed by North (885) and East (634).
The municipal polls is seen as crucial for Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Congress as well as opposition BJP with leaders believing that it could be an indicator for what is in store for them in the Assembly polls which are 18 months away.
BJP, which has 164 councillors in the undivided MCD against Congress' 67 and BSP's 17, has been harping on alleged corruption by Dikshit government while Congress has been targeting the saffron party on its "inefficient and corrupt" administration in MCD.
In the 2007 polls to the undivided Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), BJP had bagged 36.17 per cent of the around 42.35 lakh votes polled while Congress got 29.17 per cent. BSP's vote share was 9.87 per cent.
(With additional information from PTI)