As the city municipal corporation went to the polls on Sunday, colony dwellers once again lived up to their reputation and came out in large numbers to elect their respective candidates.
At Dadumajra, Maloya, Ram Darbar and Sector 52, queues came up at as early as 8am and the rush remained till the afternoon. After a break for just an hour, the long queues could again be seen as the end of polling approached at 5pm. In Maloya, the polling continued till as late as 8pm. The polling staff said whosoever was able to get in the queue by 5pm was allowed to cast the vote. In other colonies, voting went on till around 7.30pm.
In ward 6, which comprises Dadumajra, the voter turnout was 66%, while in ward 23 (Ram Darbar) -- which has the maximum number of voters at 33,113 -- the polling went as high as 72%.
Even as Chandigarh records high literacy rate, the overall voting percentage, remains low. In the first MC polls held in 1996, the voter turnout was recorded at 45.7%. It went down to 31.8% in 2001 before rising up to 45.2% in 2006. In the last elections held in 2011, the turnout was 59%.
The major blame for this lies on affluent sectors. Ward 1, which comprises Sectors 1 to 11, recorded only 49% polling this election. In 2006 and 2011, it was 34% and 52% respectively. At 42%, the lowest polling on Sunday was seen at ward 17 (Sectors 18,19 and 21). In ward 15 (Sectors 34, 35 and 44), it remained just 43%.
Colony dwellers and resident of southern sectors, meanwhile, have always been coming out to vote enthusiastically. Ward 6 that comprises Dadumajra saw the highest turnout of 75% in both the previous elections in 2006 and 2011. Ward 11 (Maloya) and ward 26 (Manimajra) recorded 71% polling in 2011.
Dalit Chetna Manch president Narendra Chaudhary said: “Colony dwellers take elections seriously and always come forward to participate in large numbers. Other city residents should also not shy away from exercising their franchise.”
Maya Rani, a Dadumajra resident, said: “It is a norm in my family that all members above 18 have to vote. By voting, we feel that we are a part of the democratic process.”
To encourage voters, the UT administration had come up with jingles and advertisements. Even political parties put in efforts to ensure high turnout.