Large turnout at Shaheen Bagh as Delhi votes for new Assembly
Voting for the 70-member Delhi Assembly began Saturday morning amid tight security after a high-pitched election campaign by the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress.
An electorate of over 1.47 crore people will decide the fate of 672 candidates.
The polling began at 8 am and will end at 6 pm, an official said. According to Election Commission, voter turnout in the first hour was 1.77%. At 10 am, the turnout rose 5.6%.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his family cast their votes at a polling booth in Civil Lines shortly after polling began. He is up against BJP’s Sunil Yadav and Romesh Sabharwal of the Congress in the New Delhi constituency. Aam Aadmi Party candidate from Rajinder Nagar, Raghav Chadha, was also among the early voters.
“I am hopeful that people will vote on the basis of work done in Delhi, and that AAP will form the government in Delhi for the third time,” Kejriwal said after casting his vote .
He also appealed to the people of Delhi to cast their votes. “I appeal to all, especially to the women, to cast their votes today,” he said.
Voters turned up in large numbers at Shaheen Bagh, the epicentre of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act for almost two months now. AAP’s sitting MLA Amanatullah is up against Congress’s Parvez Hashmi and BJP’s Brahm Singh Bidhuri.
Tight security arrangements are in place at Shaheen Bagh where two incidents of shooting have taken place recently.
Besides police security, polling stations falling in the “critical category” have got paramilitary cover. Activities at such stations are being monitored through webcasting, officials said, according to PTI.
All five polling stations in Shaheen Bagh, the epicentre of massive protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, are under critical category.
External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar was one of the early voters. He cast his vote at the polling station set up at NDMC School of Science and Humanities Education at Tuglak Cresent.
Among the prominent candidates in the election are Chief Minister Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia, Atishi and Raghav Chadha of the AAP; four former mayors -- Azad Singh, Yogender Chandolia, Ravinder Gupta and Khushi Ram -- of the BJP; and Shivani Chopra, daughter of Delhi Congress president Subhash Chopra.
There are 13,750 polling booths across Delhi.
The AAP which won 67 of the 70 seats in 2015, is hoping to repeat that performance. The BJP is hoping to ride on its Lok Sabha election success to dislodge the AAP. The Congress which ran a comparatively low profile campaign is seeking to improve it its performance after it drew a blank in the last assembly polls.
The result will be declared on Tuesday.