The municipal bypolls for 13 wards witnessed an overall voter turnout of 45.9% on Sunday with the highest turnout being reported from south Delhi’s Bhati segment. The result for the bypolls will be declared on Tuesday.
The bypolls were mandated after the councillors were elected to the Delhi assembly in 2013 and 2015 assembly polls. With the municipal elections to the three corporations scheduled to be held in April next year, the bypolls are being seen as a semi-final to the main battle.
While Bhati ward in South Delhi Municipal Corporation witnessed the highest voter turnout at 64.36%, Matiala in the same corporation had the least turnout of 33%.
The Delhi high court on January 29 directed the Delhi poll panel to conduct the bypolls for all 13 vacant seats within three months. The court decision came after a resident of one of the wards filed a PIL in the matter, claiming the development has been stalled and areas were suffering due to lack of basic amenities.
The 13 wards that went to bypolls are -- Quamruddin Nagar, Shalimar Bagh (North), Ballimaran, Nawada, Vikas Nagar, Matiala, Nanakpura, Munirka, Bhati, Tehkhand, Khichripur, Jhilmil and Wazirpur.
While nine wards have remained unrepresented since December 2013, the rest have been lying vacant since February 2015. Nine of these 13 councillors are now AAP legislators. The other four became legislators on BJP ticket in 2013, but lost in 2015.
Officials of the Delhi State Election Commission said during campaigning, 78 unlicensed pistols with over 126 bullets were seized. A total of 18 incidents of violence were reported in which nine people were injured.
“A total of 54 FIRs were reported and 52 people were arrested for violating the excise Act. For non-compliance of the Model Code of Conduct, 257 banners, 246 posters and 132 hoardings were removed and 19 wall writings erased,” said Rakesh Mehta, Delhi state election commissioner.
Mehta said 36,545 quarters, 192 full bottles and 96 cans of liquor were seized and an FIR registered for violation of the Model Code of Conduct.
Polling began amid adequate security arrangement especially in north Delhi areas where the Delhi State Election Commission has identified polling stations as more sensitive than in other wards.
“Of 695 polling stations, about 200 were identified as sensitive and ultra-sensitive and adequate security arrangement were made in those areas. Among the three corporations, north corporation area had the maximum number of sensitive booths,” a state election commission official said.
The Aam Aadmi Party, which won 67 seats in the 70-member Delhi Assembly last year, has been confident of winning the bypolls. This was the first election that the party contested after it stormed to power last year.
On the other hand, the ruling BJP in the civic bodies made efforts to beat the anti-incumbency. It has remained in power in the municipal corporation since 2007.
The Congress, which could not even open its account in assembly polls last year, saw this as an opportunity to reclaim its lost political ground in the capital.