Delhi clocked a poor average of 57.03% turnout in the assembly elections on Saturday (February 8), much lower than the 67.08% recorded during 2015 polls. Voting was mostly peaceful with no major incidents of violence being reported in the national capital.
Police personnel, along with paramilitary force, conducted flag marches in sensitive areas of northeast Delhi, Shahdara and east Delhi. An election commission app showed a turnout of 55.18% at 6:30 pm.
Over 1.47 crore people were eligible to exercise their franchise in the polls that will decide the fate of 672 candidates in 70 assembly constituencies which are seeing a triangular contest among the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), opposition BJP and the Congress.
Of the 11 districts, Northeast recorded the highest 62.75% of voting, while New Delhi recorded 53.93%, the lowest. There were long queues outside some polling booths in areas dominated by minorities such as Jaffrabad, Shaheen Bagh, Seelampur and Jamia Nagar.
Although no incidents of violence were reported during polling, there were some complaints related to VVPAT slips. Congress’s New Delhi candidate Romesh Sabharwal said VVAPT slips did not show his name and photo. “I gave a written complaint to poll authorities after which the machine was replaced,” Sabharwal said.
“Senior officers, along with forces, have been conducting flag marches in sensitive areas. Motorcycle patrolling are also being done. Besides, PCR and Quick Response Teams have also been deployed in sensitive areas,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Eastern Range) Alok Kumar.
President Ram Nath Kovind, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, West Delhi MP Parvesh Verma and Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari also exercised their franchise. Union Ministers S Jaishankar, Hardeep Singh Puri were also among those who cast their votes.
Chief Minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal voted at the Rajpur Transport Authority polling station in the Civil Lines area. Kejriwal, who is contesting the polls from the New Delhi constituency, was accompanied by his wife Sunita and son Pulkit.
Minutes before polling began, Kejriwal tweeted, “Please go to cast vote. A special appeal to all the women – as you shoulder the responsibility at home, likewise, the responsibility of the country and Delhi is on your shoulders.”
Former vice president Hamid Ansari and senior RSS functionary Ram Lal were among those who queued up outside the Nirman Bhavan polling station in the first hour of voting. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who led a very aggressive campaign and covered 60 assembly seats, appealed to voters to “free” the national capital from lies and vote-bank politics.
“By giving Delhi clean air, clean drinking water and every poor house, only the best capital of the world can make it a government with far-sighted thinking and strong intentions. I appeal to the people of Delhi to vote to free Delhi from lies and vote bank politics,” Shah tweeted.
BJP president J P Nadda also appealed to all the voters to vote in large numbers. “Each vote of you is important for the unity and integrity of the country and holistic development of Delhi. Your vote only will be script the golden future of Delhi. ‘Pehle Matdan, Phir Jalpan’. Jai Hind,” Nadda tweeted.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s son Rehan and Kejriwal’s son Pulkit were among first-time voters. Pulkit said he felt good after voting for the first time. He said whoever people choose will become the chief minister of Delhi when asked if his father will be the CM again. Talking to reporters, Rehan said the public transport should be more affordable for students.
(With inputs from agencies)