40 percent polling in Delhi by 3 p.m. (Fourth Lead)

May 7th, 2009 - 6:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) Nearly 40 percent of the electorate had exercised their franchise by 3 p.m. across seven constituencies of the national capital Thursday.
Polling began at 7 a.m. across the 11,348 polling booths in the capital. The number of eligible voters is about 11.09 million - nearly four million of them in the age group 18-29.

“Till 3 p.m., 39.81 percent of voters had exercised their franchise,” Delhi’s Deputy Chief Electoral Officer J.K. Sharma told IANS.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit were among the early voters.

“Voting is going on very smoothly in all the polling stations. The weather is not very hot, which added to the enthusiasm of people. Provision of water and shade has been made available at all the polling stations,” Delhi’s Chief Electoral Officer Satbir Silas Bedi told IANS.

The highest turnout was recorded in New Delhi constituency at 42.67 percent, while the lowest was in Northwest Delhi at 37 percent. Chandni Chowk and northeast Delhi recorded 41 percent each, east Delhi 40 percent, West Delhi 38 percent and South Delhi witnessed 40.31 percent polling.

Besides Sonia Gandhi and Dikshit, the first few hours saw other high profile voters turning up, like Vice President Hamid Ansari, former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Sonia Gandhi’s daughter and son-in-law Priyanka Gandhi and Robert Vadra.

“I hope they (Delhi voters) will be voting for a party and prime minister who are serious about development and are ready to take the country forward,” Priyanka Gandhi said when she came to vote at the Lodhi Estate polling station near her home.

Sonia Gandhi exercised her franchise at the Nirman Bhawan polling station where she was accompanied by Dikshit and Ajay Maken, who is Congress candidate from the New Delhi constituency.

“Last time, the Congress won six out of of seven seats and this time too we expect the same. Voting is a very essential part of democracy and people should vote in large numbers. However, if the percentage of voting is less this time it’s not just for Congress, it’s less for other parties as well,” Dikshit told a TV channel.

“If Congress wins this time the issue of development will be continued. We have always stood for development. Congress had a very positive campaign, while the BJP’s campaign was ‘feeka’ (colourless). Our theme song was ‘Jai Ho!’ theirs was ‘Bhay Ho!’ so every one will see the effects of negative campaign after 5 p.m.,” a confident Dikshit added.

Dikshit’s son and sitting MP Sandeep Dikshit is contesting from the East Delhi constituency. He cast his vote at the Pandara Road polling station.

“Congress will win on all seats,” Maken said.

After the low voter turnout in Mumbai disappointed many, SMS messages asking people to vote were doing the rounds.

One such read: “Vote Now! Please cast your vote immediately. Today is not a holiday. Your contribution to India. Don’t be a Pappu. Spread this to as many as possible.”

A total of 160 candidates are in the fray this time, compared to 129 in the 2004 elections.

The contest is mainly between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

More than 73,000 officials are conducting the voting. To ensure free and fair elections, 56,000 police personnel are deployed across the capital.

A total of 193 polling stations have been identified as sensitive and 32 as hyper-sensitive.

The polling will end at 5 p.m. The votes will be counted May 16.

–Indo-asian News Service


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