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Young voters come of age

Contrary to popular perception of them being indifferent to local issues, Delhi’s young and restless came out in large numbers to vote on Sunday.

delhi Updated: Apr 16, 2012 01:51 IST
Team HT

Contrary to popular perception of them being indifferent to local issues, Delhi’s young and restless came out in large numbers to vote on Sunday.

Out of the 1.15 crore registered voters in Delhi, over one lakh were first-time voters. Most of them voted over issues affecting their locality such as encroachment, sanitation and parks.

For Nidhi, 26, a resident of north Roshanara Road, encroachment was what brought her to the polling booth. “Encroachment is the biggest problem in our area but the MCD did not do anything to rectify the problem. Maybe because people like us don’t matter. That is why young and educated people should come out in large numbers and vote to make themselves heard,” said Nidhi, who goes by a single name.

Though she tried to find out about the candidates in her area on the internet, Nidhi complained that she could not find anything.

“I voted so that I can demand my right to play in the colony park. It may seem an insignificant thing to the councillors or other voters but it is the main issue for people of my age in Vasant Kunj,” said Mannat Khanna, 20, a Faculty of Law, Delhi University, student.

The first-time voters were particularly enthusiastic. “I travel from Vasant Kunj to Noida every day and the condition of roads in this area is very bad. I have decided to vote for a candidate who promises to solve my problem,” said Gagan Akshay Mehta, 21, a student of Amity University, Noida, who lives in Vasant Kunj.

Many others thought parking was the biggest issue being faced by their colonies. “Councillors have been promising a proper parking system from the past one-and-a-half years, but nothing has changed. I hope this time the new councillor will do something,” said Priya Verma, 26, a resident of Rajouri Garden.

“This is for the first time that I have cast my vote. Though I did not have a clear idea about the candidates, I voted for the party that my family supports. It felt great to exercise my franchise,” said Mandeep Kaur, 20, a resident of Malviya Nagar.

Several voter awareness campaigns had been launched in the run-up to the elections this year, with active participation of the RWAs and one of the constant themes of such programmes was to bring young voters to the polling booths.

Many RWAs had roped in Delhi University students in activities ranging from poster and banner painting to launching special poll pages on the social networking websites to rope in young voters.

In fact, a survey by industry body Assocham had predicted that 65% of Delhi’s youth would exercise their franchise in the MCD polls with a heavy percentage of them being from the east and north Delhi.

Now, focus shifts to counting centres

Team HT
new delhi: Delhiites are counting on them for they are now the custodians of their votes.

Thousands of officials entrusted with the task of counting the votes polled on Sunday reported for duty at the 33 counting centres across the city, after over 58,000 officials oversaw an estimated 58 per cent of the Delhi’s electorate exercising their franchise during Sunday’s MCD polls.

As soon as the electronic voting machines (EVMs) will reach there, counting officials would stock them — classifying them according to the wards and booth number — and seal the centre.

Heavy police deployment could be seen around the counting centres to ensure security of the EVMs. On Tuesday, the seals of the machines will be broken and votes will be counted.

At the Kali Bari counting centre, votes polled at 26 wards in Central Delhi will be counted. Tents have been erected.

However, in a first for counting officials, Monday has been declared an off day for them. It’s a big relief as they will be working till late on Sunday night to secure the EVMs.

“We will be working till 2.30am but the good thing is that we won’t have to go to office tomorrow,” said Sanjay Jain, a central government officer.

Identity confusion: Many could not vote

Team HT
new delhi: “Please be there to bless Delhi a bright future ahead. Come vote for MCD elections,” the State Election Commission (SEC) had invited voters on Sunday morning through advertisements in newspaper. But many people had to return home without ink on their fingers, as they did not have slips issued by block level officers (BLO).
The slip contains the name, address and booth number of the voter and can be used as an identity proof in lieu of voter ID card, driving license or passport, etc. But as officials were blissfully unaware of the SEC directions, other forms of identity cards were not accepted in some polling booths.

Many people in unauthorised colonies could not vote because they did not have any form of identity card. They tried to use aadhar cards but were turned away.
Former cricketer Bishan Singh Bedi, who lives in Mehrauli, said his name was not on the voters' list. Even member of Rajya Sabha Parvesh Hashmi faced the same problem.
Jyoti and Rama from Kathputli Colony said they carried their aadhar card and spoke to the returning officer who assured they could cast their votes by showing it. But, when they reached the polling booth, they were turned away.

“A few of our family members were turned away for the same reason,” said Jyoti. Pankaj Marwah, a resident of Vasant Kunj, said his PAN card did not work either. “I did not get a BLO slip and since I did not have a voter ID card I was not allowed to vote,” he said.

Jamia Nagar looks for image makeover

Team HT
new delhi: Residents of Jamia Nagar are tired of being looked at with suspicion. This is why this time in the polls, they voted for a man, whose win they believe will give them an image makeover.

Although most hesitated in revealing who they voted for, their hints pointed to Zia-ur-Rehman, 26, one of the suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists facing trial with 12 others in the September 2008 Delhi serial blasts case.

"Residents of Batla House still believe that the encounter was fake, and that Rehman along with others was framed. So, we thought that we would vote for him to show our support. We hope that he will be let-off," said Azra Begum, 75. Even young voters seemed to be in favour of Rehman.

For Rehman’s family members, fighting the municipal polls is not just a battle to win a coveted post, but a war to regain the honour of the family, which has been ostracised by people around, due to fear.

"We have often been labelled as terrorists, and people always look at Batla House with suspicion. A win for Rehman would change the image of the area," said Sartaj, 24, a young voter.

He added, “I know that he will work for the area after winning. This time, our concerns are not only civic issues, but we are voting for a clean image.”
Resident said that the election results would indicate what people thought about the Batla House encounter. Rehman’s biggest opponent is sitting Congress councillor Shoeb Danish.

(Team HT: Atul Mathur, Sidhartha Roy, Neelam Pandey, Faizan Haider, Mallica Joshi, Hamari Jamatia, Astha Saxena and Rajat Arora)