After slacking till the afternoon on a sunny Sunday, 53.6% Delhi voters saved the day by casting their ballot in the municipal election. Though the turnout was much lower than the assembly polls in 2015, Delhi didn’t do too badly, if the trend in civic polls is anything to go by.
Five years ago, voters in Delhi had conjured a breathtaking feat by recording the highest turnout of 15 years at 53.2%. Like always, senior citizens came out in droves - some on wheelchairs or wobbling with a stick, others came with friends and still others queued up early after a round of morning walk.
There are also first-time voters to thank. They came out for experience and to do their bit for the country as fresh adults.
Here are their voting moments put together from across the city.
Nageshwar Mishra, 76 years old, is a resident of Madanpur Khadar in south Delhi. Walking with a stick, he came alone to vote. He could not walk but managed to reach the polling booth on a rickshaw as he thinks voting is crucial for the success of a democracy. “I came here even though I have difficulty in walking but I had to vote. How could I miss it?” he said. He took a minute to rest after the process was over.
A group of nuns came out to vote at St Xavier’s School at Raj Niwas Marg near Civil Lines in north Delhi. Lietenant-Governor Anil Baijal’s official residence is a few steps away from the 57-year-old school. Though the area houses the L-G and even Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal at Flagstaff Road, broken roads, garbage collection, encroachment and unkempt parks are major concerns of the voters there.
Villagers of Ladpur in northwest Delhi were happy to show their inked fingers this time. They together went out to vote and sat discussing the outcome over a round of hookah in this village, about 16 kilometres away from Rohini. Frustrated with civic problems in their area, the villagers had boycotted the municipal election in 2012. Five years have passed since. But roads are still muddy, water is scarce and sewage remains difficult to manage here.
First-time voters Ayusha Naaz and Namra Mahak were thrilled to vote on Sunday in southeast Delhi’s Jamia Nagar. Delhi State Election Commission said nearly 1.10 lakh first-time voters were registered in the high-stakes municipal polls in Delhi. More than 24,000 of them had recently turned 18. Many of them said they had done enough research on every candidate contesting their area to make an informed choice. Family influence was not working here.
Another group of first-time voters - Mohd Azharuddin, Mohd Shaqib and Ghazen - at a polling booth in northeast Delhi’s Brahmpuri was as excited though they were angry with the continued neglect of their area by both the municipal corporation and the Delhi government.
In west Delhi’s Karol Bagh, women voters said they was no way they were missing out on voting. It was their right and they wanted to vote for cleanliness, decongestion, better parking facilities and improved schools at primary level. One of them said her family had decided to vote for a particular party, but she made her own decision. “That’s another benefit of secret ballot!” she laughed.
Mohd Aash visited a polling booth at Jamia Nagar in southeast Delhi along with his wife Afsana, who helped him cast his vote. A large number of voters in his area said they voted for improving sanitation as the place was a hotbed of dengue and chikungunya cases last year. Though the official figure for dengue and chikungunya deaths in Jamia Nagar, according to MCD records, is less than 10, there were over 70 suspected deaths here.