‘Ballot not bullets’, ‘jobs over freebies’: What first-time voters chose

The hopes come in the wake of shootings in Delhi and the bitter campaigning of political parties in the last few days.

Delhi Assembly elections voters
Voters show their finger marked with indelible ink after casting vote during the Delhi Assembly elections at Jamia Nagar polling station, in New Delhi, Saturday. (PTI Photo)

First-time voters in Delhi elections wanted “jobs over freebies” and “ballot over bullets” as they exercised their franchise excitedly at polling booths across the capital city.

“I kept those at the lowest strata who are just able to make their ends meet in mind before I pressed the (EVM) button. The new-generation electorate would vote for equality, development, healthcare, education and clean air,” said 21-year-old Akshay Singh, a first-time voter.

Praveen Punj, a first-time voter at Tilak Nagar polling booth said, “We can’t fight these forces with bullets. Even if they fire, we should not. They can only be fought with ballot. Happy to have made my contribution for the first time.”

He also posted a selfie on social media showing his inked finger with a caption “ballot over bullets #firsttime”.

His comments come in the wake of at least four incidents of shooting at protesters in different parts of the city, especially Jamia Nagar and Shaheen Bagh.

Also read | Exit polls hint at Aam Aadmi clean sweep in Delhi elections

“Employment should be the topmost agenda for any voter to decide. Rest everything is secondary. Light, water… whatever amenities, even if they are expensive they can be availed if there is income. So my vote is for jobs rather than freebies,” said Prahalad Kumar, a first-time voter in Nangloi.

Kumar’s reference was to free electricity and water announced by the AAP, which was followed by similar announcements from the BJP and the Congress.

Also among the first-time voters were Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s son Rehan, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s son Pulkit Kejriwal and Congress leader Ajay Maken’s son Aujaswi Maken.

Standing in a queue outside a polling booth in Chandni Chowk constituency Rahul and his friend Karan, both first-time voters, said they were going to vote for development.

“The present government has done good things like waiving charges for water and power supply,” Rahul, a houskeeping worker at a hospital, said.

Choose not party, but development

Sonkashi Ranjan, who exercised her franchise at a polling booth in Ashoka Road area, said, “Voters should not idolise any party or candidate. Work and development should be the primary factor. I would on any day chose development over nationalism.”

Sadaf Mehboob (18), a student of Jamia Millia University, who cast her vote from a polling station in Shaheen Bagh, said, “My vote has gone for a party that has worked for development in the last five years.”

“My vote has gone for better education, health, and jobs for the youth, as I am one. It was heartening to see so many youth coming out to vote in Shaheen Bagh area that has become the epicentre of anti-CAA protests in Delhi,” she added.

Kejriwal’s son Pulkit said he felt good after voting for the first time. When asked if his father will be the chief minister again, he said whoever people choose will become the CM.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s son Rehan said public transport should be more affordable for students.

Polling for the 70 seats of Delhi assembly began at 8 am on Saturday amid tight security. The votes will be counted on February 11.

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