|Congress, BJP and Aam Aadmi Party leaders after casting votes (Pic: India Today)|
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Record turnout in Delhi Assembly election
NEW DELHI (AA) - Millions of voters waited in long queues outside polling booths in India’s capital New Delhi on Wednesday to cast their votes in a bitterly-contested and much-publicized Delhi Assembly election.
Around 70 percent polling was recorded in Delhi as voters came out in large numbers making this assembly election a “record”.
In the last assembly polls in 2008, the overall voting percentage was 57.58 percent.
As of 5pm (Indian time), the voter turnout was around 65% but this figure is likely to go up as there were thousands still waiting at polling booths. The voting deadline is 5pm but election commission of India extended the deadline for the voters who were in the queue before 5pm.
“Around 65 percent polling has been recorded. But the figure may change as we are compiling all the data. Around 70,000 people are still standing in queue,” Press Trust of India quoted a senior official of Delhi Election Commission as saying.
In some booths, the polling was extended by an hour because the voting started late due to technical problems in electronic voting machines (EVMs). Former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam had to wait for sometime at a Delhi constituency before retuning home because of malfunction in EVM. He returned to the booth after an hour to cast his vote.
There are three main political contenders to Delhi Assembly, the ruling Congress party, right-wing BJP and a new entrant Aam Aadmi Party.
The record turnout is seen by debutant politician Arvind Kejriwal and his new political party Aam Aadmi Party (Common Man’s Party) as a “positive sign” as they challenge the right-wing opposition party BJP and the ruling Congress party which has retained Delhi for past three terms.
“I am very confident of the results. It will not be my victory but that of the people,” Kejriwal, who voted early, told reporters.
Kejriwal urged people on the social media to vote “first” and eat “later”.
On his Twitter account, Kejriwal wrote, “On my way to poll booth to cast my vote. Will eat only after voting. Am on fast till then. Will you also do that? Eat only after you have voted.”
Kejriwal is former government bureaucrat who rose to prominence in recent years for spread-heading anti-corruption campaign along with popular social crusader Anna Hazare demanding a strong anti-corruption legislation.
Sitting chief minister and 75-year old Congress leader Sheila Dikshit is fighting this election for a record fourth term amidst strong anti-incumbency against her party. “I am too grown-up to be nervous. I will keep my fingers crossed,” she told reporters.
The right-wing BJP is banking on rising inflation, crime against women and shortage of power and water supply as the key election issues.
The verdict of Delhi election will be declared on Sunday December 8 when the counting of votes will begin. The result of four other states Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram, which went to poll in November, will be declared on the same day.
This assembly election is seen by many as a referendum of how Indians will vote in the next year’s general election likely to take place in May 2014.
The result of the assembly elections will be litmus test for Narendra Modi, BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate and Rahul Gandhi, the young Congress leader and scion of Gandhi family.
This state election is historic in the sense that for the first time in Indian election history, voters had the option of choosing the “None of The Above” (NOTA) button on EVMs if no candidate is acceptable to them. The NOTA option has been introduced for the first time as a result of a Supreme Court ruling on September 27, 2013 which allowed the voters to cast negative votes.
Anadolu Agency, December 4, 2013