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HindustanTimes Sat,27 Dec 2014

LS polls: At 64.77%, Delhi's voter turnout beats 2009 numbers

HT Correspondent and Agencies  New Delhi, April 10, 2014
First Published: 11:50 IST(10/4/2014) | Last Updated: 02:25 IST(11/4/2014)

Delhi saw 64.77% of its 12.7 million-strong electorate turning up at polling booths on Thursday. The turnout crossed the 2009 mark of 51.85% and was a notch below the polling percentage recorded in the 2013 assembly elections (66%).

The prominent contenders in the fray include Union ministers Kapil Sibal and Krishna Tirath, Delhi BJP chief Harsh Vardhan, Congress general secretary Ajay Maken, Sandeep Dikshit, Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, journalist-turned- politician Ashutosh and BJP's Meenakshi Lekhi.

The North East Delhi seat, where Congress' JP Agarwal, BJP's Manoj Tiwari and AAP's Anand Kumar are in the fray, registered the highest turnout of 67.08%, followed by Chandni Chowk at 66.88%.

The turnout was also high in East Delhi and New Delhi at 65.59% and 65.03% repectively. Northwest Delhi stood at 61.38%, South Delhi at 62.67% and West Delhi at 65.64%.

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Earlier in the day, chief electoral officer Vijay Dev said, "This time all records will be broken in Delhi... I am sure a lot of people, including youth and women, will come out and vote."

The Lok Sabha elections in Delhi are seen as a test of the Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP's) support base, Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) claim of having a 'Modi wave' besides assertion by Congress that it was regaining lost ground after suffering massive defeat in assembly polls.

Vice-president Hamid Ansari, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Delhi lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal were among the early voters.

Sonia, accompanied by Maken and Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely, came to the polling station at Nirman Bhavan in central Delhi around 9:30am and went straight inside the booth to vote as there was no queue.

She is a voter in the New Delhi constituency from where Maken is contesting to retain the seat for the third consecutive term.

Talking to reporters, Maken, who is contesting from prestigious New Delhi constituency, exuded confidence of regaining support of the Congress vote bank which he said had gone to the AAP in the assembly polls four months back.

"People who voted for Arvind Kejriwal were traditional Congress voters who will vote for us this time. We will win all seven seats. There is no Modi wave," Maken told reporters.

Clad in a while kurta-pyjama, Rahul cast his vote at booth number 88 at Aurangazeb Lane at 10:20am. He was also accompanied by Maken and Lovely. As there was no queue, Rahul also went straight inside the booth to cast his vote.

After casting his vote at a polling booth near his residence in Tilak Lane, Kejriwal said the Congress had already accepted its defeat while Narendra Modi was thinking that he had become the prime Minister.

Also among the early birds were Kapil Sibal, Harsh Vardhan, Ajay Maken and Delhi's chief electoral officer Vijay Dev.

The Lok Sabha poll mandate will reflect the AAP's support base in Delhi amidst perceived disillusionment among middle-class voters who had helped the party to make a spectacular debut in assembly polls just five months ago.

An early AAP internal assessment projected it would win four seats: New Delhi, Chandni Chowk, East and West Delhi. However, another internal survey, closer to voting day, claimed the party would sweep all seven.

The BJP, on the other hand, feels it has a good chance in West, South, North East and North West Delhi. The saffron party is also hopeful of a sweep, riding on prime minister nominee Narendra Modi's direct pitch to voters. 

The Congress has also tried to regain its support base through a series of initiatives in the last four months following its crushing defeat in the assembly polls in which it got just eight seats.

The election results are likely to set the stage for possible assembly polls in Delhi in the next few months. The BJP may prefer going to assembly polls early if it puts up a good show in the Lok Sabha polls.

All eyes are on the Capital to know if Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari's appeal to Muslims to support the Congress will have any impact.  

Chandni Chowk has a sizeable Muslim population. It will see a mega fight of BJP's Harsh Vardhan, Congress' Kapil Sibal and AAP's Ashutosh.

Besides, North East Delhi has the highest share of Muslim population (close to 30%) and East Delhi has more than 16% Muslims.

The Congress' internal survey says it is winning the New Delhi seat and faces a tough contest in Chandni Chowk, North East Delhi and East Delhi.

If Muslim votes go to the Congress, it could win at least two of these three seats.


(With inputs from PTI and HT correspondents Atul Mathur, Darpan Singh, Neelam Pandey and Siddhartha Roy)

Highlights of the day:

Polling in other states:

Bihar | Chandigarh | Chattisgarh | Haryana | Jharkhand | Jammu | Kerala | Madhya Pradesh | Maharashtra | Odisha | Uttar Pradesh


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