64.77 per cent polling in Delhi; high voter turnout was also registered in neighbouring Noida (61 per cent), Ghaziabad (60.2 per cent) and Gurgaon (67 per cent).
Delhi witnessed a record 64.77 per cent voter turnout on Thursday, surpassing the polling percentage in the 2009 parliamentary elections when a meagre 51.85 per cent people came out to exercise their franchise. This time round, about 1.27 crore voters were eligible to cast their votes, which comprised eight lakh new voters. They were added after the Assembly elections held in December 2013.
The turnout was the highest in the Capital, which, for the first time, is witnessing a three-cornered contest in the Lok Sabha elections. The city had recorded a turnout of 64.48 per cent in 1984 when the Congress had won a record number of seats in the Lok Sabha. The highest voter turnout of 71.3 per cent in the city was recorded in the 1977 elections after the Emergency was lifted.
However, the turnout remained slightly lower than the polling percentage registered in the Assembly elections (65.8 per cent). In comparison with the past, high voter turnout was also registered in neighbouring Noida (61 per cent), Ghaziabad (60.2 per cent) and Gurgaon (67 per cent). Ghaziabad had witnessed just over 45 per cent polling in the 2009 general election.
Long queues were witnessed outside several polling stations as the young, the elderly and differently-abled people, cutting across all sections of society,turned up in large numbers since the polling started at 7a.m.
Even affluent areas, which are considered usually lethargic when it comes to voting, reported heavy polling. Election Commission officials said around 10.2 per cent of the electorate cast their votes within the first two hours.
Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal and Delhi BJP chief Dr. Harsh Vardhan were among the first few high profile people who exercised their franchise in the early hours.
Union Minister Kapil Sibal and Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung were also among the early voters.
While Ms. Gandhi was accompanied by Congress general secretary Ajay Maken and Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh to the polling station at Nirman Bhavan in New Delhi, Mr. Gandhi voted at a polling booth in Aurangazeb Lane. His sister Priyanka Gandhi, accompanied by her husband Robert Vadra, cast her vote at a polling booth in Lodhi Estate.
AAP candidate from Chandni Chowk Ashutosh and the party’s East Delhi candidate Rajmohan Gandhi, however, exercised their franchise in Noida and Gurgaon, respectively. Election Commission officials said the polls were conducted peacefully and no major incident was reported in the city.
At present, all the seven seats are held by the Congress, but it is facing a stiff fight from the BJP and the AAP. While the BJP is making all efforts to win the maximum number of seats riding on the “Modi wave”, stakes for the AAP are equally high as the fledgling party is seeking to better its sterling performance in the Assembly elections. The Congress was routed in the Assembly polls as it could win only eight seats in the 70-member House, down from 43 it won in 2008.
The Election Commission had set up 70 model polling stations across Delhi with each Assembly segment getting one. This concept was scaled up after its success in the Assembly elections.
In each of the model polling stations, the voters were in for a surprise as they were presented with roses and a red carpet was laid out for them. Also, there were signages to guide them to their respective booths. This apart, adequate drinking water and seating facility was provided in shamianas.