Delhi sees nearly 30 percent polling by 1 p.m. (Third Lead)

May 7th, 2009 - 4:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) Nearly 30 percent voters exercised their franchise till 1 p.m. across the seven constituencies of the national capital that went to polls Thursday in the penultimate phase of Lok Sabha polls.
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 of 18-29.

“Till 1 p.m., 29.46 percent of voters had exercised their franchise,” said Delhi’s Chief Electoral Officer Satbir Silas Bedi.

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

“Voting is going very smoothly in all polling stations. Weather is not very hot so we can expect a lot of people to turn up. Shades and water have been made available at all the polling stations,” Bedi told IANS.

The highest turnout was recorded in East Delhi at 35.7 percent and the lowest was recorded in Northwest Delhi at 16.53 percent. Chandni Chowk recorded 29 percent, Northeast Delhi 31.56 percent, New Delhi 31.05 percent, West Delhi 30 percent and South Delhi witnessed 32.44 percent polling.

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

“I hope they (the 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, Congress candidate from the New Delhi constituency.

“Last time 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,” said Dikshit to 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 and 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.,” 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 and I’m confident that people in Delhi will come out in large numbers to vote,” Maken said.

With low voter turnout in Mumbai making national headlines, 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.

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