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54 percent turnout, exit polls give BJP the edge

54 percent turnout, exit polls give BJP the edge
After a high-voltage campaign, Delhi on Sunday recorded a turnout of around 54 per cent in the municipal polls amid complaints of faulty EVMs, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal leading the charge. The 2012 MCD polls had registered a 53.23 per cent turnout.

The voting percentage was almost 13 per cent lower than the 2015 assembly elections and 11 per cent less than the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Following a sluggish start at 8 am, voting gradually picked up and became fairly brisk as the heat waned towards the afternoon.

Many Delhiites who braved a scorching sun to reach polling stations to cast their vote for the municipal elections today had to return home disappointed as their names were missing from the electoral rolls.

Such complaints were received from different wards across the city.

Looking for a solution, many of them approached polling officials but in vain.

State Election Commissioner SK Srivastava told a press conference that North corporation's Bakhtawarpur ward recorded the highest turnout at over 68 per cent, while south Delhi's Lado Sarai registered the least turnout at 39 per cent.

He said 18 electronic voting machines (EVMs) were replaced owing to battery or button related issues.

"Out of 13,000 polling stations, EVMs were changed in only 18 polling stations. It shows our EVMs are unhackable, robust and no wrong can be done," Srivastava said.

However, Kejriwal alleged in a tweet, "Reports from all over Delhi of EVM malfunction, people with voter slips not allowed to vote. What is SEC doing? (sic)."

Polling was held in 270 of the 272 wards of the three municipal corporations. The election to two wards has been postponed due to the death of candidates.

A total of 1,32,10,206 voters were entitled to exercise their franchise in electing councillors for the 270 wards falling under the three corporations - NDMC (103), SDMC (104) and East Delhi Municipal Corporation (63).

Despite reports of technical glitches in some of the EVMs, polling remained peaceful as Delhi Police made elaborate security arrangements with over 56,000 men and officers of Delhi Police and Central Para Military Forces (CPMF) standing guard on 13022 polling booths. "The entire electoral exercise passed off peacefully as no untoward incident was reported from any part of the city," the SEC said.

Amid lakhs of voters, Delhi Lieutenant- Governor Anil Baijal, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia cast their votes in their respective wards. Lieutenant-Governor Baijal cast his vote at a polling station in Greater Kailash 3. Union minister Harsh Vardhan also voted in his Krishna Nagar constituency.

The Delhi Chief Minister, accompanied by his parents, wife and daughter, reached a polling booth in North Delhi's Civil Lines area to cast their vote. Kejriwal's daughter, Harshita, voted for the first time. After casting his vote, he said the people of Delhi should come out of their houses and exercise their franchise for a "dengue and Chikungunya-free Delhi".

Deputy CM Manish Sisodia after exercising his franchise in East Delhi's Patparganj constituency said that Delhi was voting against poor sanitation management.

Two exit polls claimed that the BJP could be headed for a landslide victory in the polls and finish way ahead of the AAP and the Congress winning over 200 wards. Pollsters have claimed that both AAP and Congress may end up with between 20 and 30 seats.

Going by the projected figures, the AAP could be in for a big disappointment, while the Congress' attempt to regain ground may come a cropper.

In a related development, the Delhi State Election Commission (SEC) has sent notices to two private news channels for airing opinion polls on the MCD elections held on Sunday.

The two channels -- Times Now and ABP News -- have been asked to give reasons for airing the opinion polls in violation of Election Commission guidelines, SEC officials said at a press conference here.

Union ministers Harsh Vardhan and Member of Parliament Meenakshi Lekhi were among the BJP leaders and party MPs who cast their vote in the elections. Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, who is not a voter in the municipal corporation elections as he lives in New Delhi Municipal Council area, started his day by offering prayers at the Balmiki Mandir on Mandir Marg and then met the party workers engaged in election work.
Anup Verma & Roushan Ali

Anup Verma & Roushan Ali

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