Serpentine queues and deserted polling stations; nattily dressed and well-informed youngsters as well as the very poor and the infirm; efficient people management as well as confusion and rising tempers — all these and more such contradictions defined voting day on Wednesday in the areas mapped under the West Delhi constituency.
The doors to the government school in West Patel Nagar opened exactly at 8 a.m. to early morning joggers who were waiting outside to cast the first vote.
“We had a lot of people crowding the counters as soon as we opened shop,” said Ramesh Kumar, who was manning the help-desk that cross-checks voters’ lists and gives out voter-slips.
By 10.45 a.m., the five voting booths on the premises had recorded around 200 votes each, with each booth equipped to handle around 700 to 1,200 votes. This was the same trend throughout most polling stations in the Patel Nagar constituency.
Big potholes in most roads around the area, as well as poor traffic management were common and unsurprisingly many people, including the elderly, said their vote will go to the candidate promising better roads and “peace”.
Nearby Karol Bagh, which is usually bustling with people because of its markets, wore a deserted look.
The St. Thomas School, earmarked for voting, had no voters in sight. “We have had around 30 female and 70 male voters since we opened,” said presiding officer S.K. Sharma after a lot of confusion and nervous bantering. It was well past 11 a.m.
Tilak Nagar, however, was a contrast in itself as polling venues within a block of each other either had winding queues or sported deserted looks. One polling booth had just as many as 97 voters by 12 p.m., while another had about 261 within 15 minutes of each other.
Almost all polling stations saw huge crowds. A large group of people were seen near the help desks, long queues and the odd scuffle were common factors. The number of policemen on duty was also noticeably more.