Delhi Assembly Election 2020: Polling in 70 seats conclude amid severly low voter turnout; missing names, VVPAT issues, slow pace irk voters - LiveNow24x7: Latest News, breaking news, 24/7 news,live news

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Saturday, 8 February 2020

Delhi Assembly Election 2020: Polling in 70 seats conclude amid severly low voter turnout; missing names, VVPAT issues, slow pace irk voters

Polling in the 70 seats of the Delhi Assembly concluded on Saturday with the state registering a very poor turnout as month-long campaigning that saw political parties stooping to new lows to grab power — furthering the divide over CAA with communal and hate speeches — failed to spur the National Capital to go out and vote.

Delhi had recorded 57.06 percent polling on Saturday till 6 pm, the official time when polling closes, a dismal show as compared to the 2015 Assembly election when the National Capital had recorded a voter turnout of 67.08 percent.

Soon after election silence ended at 6.30 pm, all exit polls unanimously predicted a clean sweep for the Aam Aadmi Party while an absolute wipeout for Congress. However, the BJP's tally is varying between 2 to 23.

High turnout in minority-dominated areas

The three minority-dominated seats of Mustafabad, Matia Mahal and Seelampur recorded the highest voter turnout in the Assembly elections here on Saturday, polls officials said.

Voters cast their vote during the Delhi Assembly elections at a polling station, in Jafrabad area of Delhi. PTI

According to the data shared by the officials, Mustafabad in northeast Delhi recorded 66.29 percent voter turnout till 5 pm.

Matia Mahal in old Delhi, the area that saw anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests, recorded a voter turnout of 65.62 per cent.

Seelampur, another minority seat in northeast Delhi, recorded 64.92 per cent voting. The seat had also seen anti-CAA protests in December.

According to data based on the EC's Voter Turnout app, of the 11 districts, northeast Delhi recorded the highest turnout of 62.75 percent, while New Delhi saw 51.57 percent, the lowest till 6 pm.

Missing names, VVPAT issues, slow pace irk voters

The polling was smooth and police maintained a strict vigil in sensitive areas.

Delhi Police personnel, along with paramilitary force, conducted flag marches in sensitive areas of northeast Delhi, Shahdara and east Delhi.

At Shaheen Bagh, the epicentre of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protest in the national capital, some voters complained about deletion of their names from the voters list. Similar issues were reported from Seelampur constituency as well.

Asma Rehman, ex-councillor and wife of AAP candidate from Seelampur Abdul Rehman, alleged that names of many voters were missing from the voters list this time.

She also claimed that voters' slips were not properly distributed in some areas, including Chauhan Bangar and Jafarabad Gali Number 26.

Meanwhile, a few voters complained of sluggish pace of voting.

There were some complaints related to VVPAT slips and some voters also complained of their names missing from the voters' list.

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, adding that polling was halted for some time.

"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.

Protesters show their ink-marked fingers after casting votes for the Delhi Assembly elections. PTI

Shaheen Bagh women protesters vote in batches

On a sit-in for over a month against the Citizenship Amendment Act, women protesters at Shaheen Bagh voted in batches on Saturday so that the agitation remains unaffected.

While some of the women voted in the morning, others chose to get their fingers inked in the afternoon and the remaining in the evening.

"The women here had decided a day before voting that some of them would go out for voting in the morning, while others will stay back for chores. The others will go in the afternoon and then come back to the protest site. By the evening, we will be a full house again, all geared up to continue our protest," said Zaheeda Khan, a resident of Shaheen Bagh.

Taking a jibe at Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's "biriyani" remark, Mohammad Ayub, a resident, said they were voting to prove a point that they were not being served any "biryani".

Adityanath was served a notice by the Election Commission for his "Kejriwal is feeding biryani in Shaheen Bagh" comments.

The Shaheen Bagh protest site had become a focal point in the BJP's poll campaign.

"Many people have alleged that we were protesting for Delhi elections and that some political parties were funding us and serving 'biryani'. They should know that we are still protesting as Delhi votes and will continue the agitation after the polling," Ayub said.

"No party serves us 'biryani'. The women cook and bring food to feed the protestors," he added.

Congress' Alka Lamba gets into altercation; BJP's Parvesh Verma seeks vote for 'nationalist' party

On Saturday,  Congress's Chandni Chowk candidate Alka Lamba on Saturday got into an altercation with an AAP worker outside a polling booth, a purported video of which has gone viral.

The video shows Lamba arguing with the AAP worker. She can be then seen trying to slap the man, but misses.

Lamba alleged that the man used "very foul" and objectional language against her. The Chandni Chowk MLA was outside one of the polling booths in her constituency.

BJP leader Parvesh Verma, who was banned by the EC twice from campaigning in Delhi, urged voters to queue up at polling booths in large numbers and vote for the 'nationalist' party.

In a video, released on Twitter, the BJP MP also said that voters "of a particular community" in Shaheen Bagh, Jamia and Seelampur are voting for the Aam Aadmi Party to repay their debt for having been served with "biryani" and given "money" during anti-CAA protesters in Shaheen Bagh.

AAP, BJP urge electors to vote in large numbers

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. Before leaving for voting, he sought his parents blessings.

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.

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."

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 JP 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.

Hundreds of people, protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in many areas across the country, often raise the slogan of "kagaz nahi dikhayenge" (we will not show documents.

"My message to the voters is 'aaj apna kagaz jaroor lekar jayen. Kagaz jaroor dikhayen' (Today, take your document along with you and show your document)," Lal said.

Responding to AAP supremo and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's allegation that no one in the BJP was worthy of becoming the CM, senior BJP leader Shyam Jaju, "We have no dearth of chief ministerial candidates. We will declare our CM face at the right time."

AAP candidate from Chandni Chowk Prahalad Sahni said that vote is being cast on the development plank, asserting that the Shaheen Bagh issue has no impact in the Delhi assembly elections.

Asecurity personnel stands guard as voters stand in a queue to cast vote during the Delhi Assembly elections at a polling station, in Jafrabad area of Delhi. PTI

First-time electors vote for jobs

"Ballot over bullets" and "jobs over freebies" were among the priorities for many of the first-time voters who queued up at polling booths, excited to exercise their franchise.

Also among the first-time voters were Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's son Rehan, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal's son Pulkit Kejriwal and Congress leader Ajay Maken's son Aujaswi Maken.

"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.

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".

"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.

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.

Over 1.47 crore people are 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. Polling for the 70 seats of Delhi assembly began at 8 am on Saturday amid tight security. The votes will be counted on 11 February.

With inputs from PTI



February 08, 2020 at 09:00PM

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