Will Delhi’s 20,000 weddings steal march over voting?

November 28th, 2008 - 2:19 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 28 (IANS) Political parties are worried that the 20,000 weddings slated to take place in the capital Saturday might steal the show and translate into a low voter turnout, as Delhi elects a new assembly on the same day.According to priests, Saturday is a most auspicious day for weddings and a lot of people will be tying the knot. And that means hundreds of thousands of people will be too busy to vote.

Apprehensive of a lower voter turnout affecting the political equation in the capital, several candidates are making personal appeals to people to find some time to come out and exercise their franchise.

“I would like to appeal to all to take 10 minutes from their busy schedules and vote. Weddings generally take place in the evenings, so that should not be difficult, isn’t it?” Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who is the Congress candidate from New Delhi constituency, told IANS.

Delhi Congress chief J.P. Aggarwal seemed worried about so many weddings and stressed that being responsible citizens, people should cast their vote.

“I think people should come out and vote. After all, it is their right and they need to choose their government,” Aggarwal said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has also appealed to voters to come to polling booths in large numbers.

“Marriage is an occasion for happiness, so is choosing your representative. So I appeal to people to find some time from their busy schedule for voting,” Delhi BJP spokesperson Mewaram Arya said.

Around 10.7 million people are eligible to vote to elect a 70-member Delhi assembly. Voting will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. at 11,155 polling booths across the capital.

Chief Electoral Officer Satbir Silas Bedi believes it is not the large number of weddings but the traffic congestion during the day and evening that is likely to create problems.

“I think people who are committed will come and vote and you just can’t do anything for people who don’t want to. They can find many excuses for not voting,” Bedi said.

“I am just worried about the traffic jams because of weddings during the latter half of the day when many people come out to vote,” Bedi added.

The capital had witnessed a poor turnout - 47 percent - in 2003, so the election office this time has launched special campaigning to motivate people.

But even then, not everyone is sure about turning up at the polling booths.

“My son is getting married Saturday and we have to go to Ludhiana for the wedding. We will leave the capital early morning and will be back only on Sunday. So we are not left with any choice about the voting,” said Gurpreet Kaur, a resident of south Delhi.

Ram Prakash, whose daughter is getting married the same day, said: “There are several rituals that take place in the morning and I don’t think it will be possible to find time. May be one or two members from the family can go out and vote but not all.”

The traffic police have also made special arrangement for regulating traffic.

“Special advisories have been issued so that traffic can be regulated smoothly. I request people to cooperate with the authorities and follow the routes listed in the advisories to avoid any problem,” said S.N Srivastav, joint commissioner, traffic.

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