The Ghaziabad district fared badly in terms of voter turnout during Phase I of UP assembly elections on Saturday despite the best efforts of the administration that included massive publicity campaigns to urge residents to vote.
The overall voting percentage this time stood at 55.8% in comparison to 56.07% in the last assembly elections in 2012.
The officials said in Sahibabad — the biggest of the five assembly segments in the district — only 49.2% polling was registered. In 2012, the polling percentage in the segment was 49.31%.
“We were expecting more voting in Sahibabad, which has more than 8 lakh voters. But the low turnout affected the overall polling percentage of the district. We carried out major publicity campaigns with funds from NGO, private organisations,the Ghaziabad development authority and the nagar palikas,” said Nidhi Kesarwani, district election officer (DEO), Ghaziabad.
According to official estimates, densely populated areas such as like Khoda and Kaila Bhatta may have seen a decline in polling and this in turn affected the turnout figures in Sahibabad and Ghaziabad, respectively.
Both Sahibabad and Ghaziabad segments have 8,65,275 and 4,23,919 voters. These two segments make up more than half the total number of voters in Ghaziabad district, which has 24,97,069 voters.
On the other hand, residents in new areas of Indirapuram, Vasundhara and Kaushambi came out in large numbers to vote in the Sahibabad segment this time.
“Most of the young voters and others came and voted. But there were many instances where names of residents were struck off from the voters’ list. This may have further affected the polling percentage,” said Sanjeev Sethi, an Indirapuram resident.
Apart from Sahibabad, the Ghaziabad segment also performed dismally with a dip in polling percentage from 54.08% in 2012 to 53.16% this election.
The two segments fared badly as they house a major chunk of working population and polling day — February 11 — was a Saturday and hence working day in neighbouring cities of Delhi and Gurgaon.
“The reason behind the low polling in two segments is unexpected and a mystery. This has happened despite major publicity campaigns by the administration. It could also be that many voters hail from outside states and cities and they may not have been inclined towards the state elections,” said Colonel (retd) TP Tyagi of the Ghaziabad RWA federation.
The fate of 53 candidates is now sealed in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) which have been stored under high security at the Govindpuram grain market. The counting for the assembly election will take place on March 11.
“All the 2,493 EVMs were brought to Ghaziabad and 103 of these were sent to Hapur district for Dhaulana (part) segment. The grain market has been secured with a three-layer security by paramilitary forces and civil police. Officials have also been deputed for duties at the market,” the DEO said.