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National News
Delhi records over 60 pc voter turnout, sees dip in polling percentage
 
New Delhi, May 12 (PTI) Delhi recorded a voter turnout of 60.21 per cent on Sunday, down from 65 per cent in 2014, in its seven Lok Sabha seats, with instances of EVM glitches and missing voter names reported from various areas. Delhi''s Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh said the turnout did not meet expectations considering the awareness campaigns his office had undertaken to draw voters to polling stations. "The voter turnout was not what we expected. In 2014 it was around 65 per cent but this time it might turn out around 61 per cent (figures still coming in from some polling stations) which is a disappointment.

"We had done a lot of publicity campaigns and shows by stars," he said. The reasons have to be analysed, Singh said, adding that sweltering heat and Sunday being a holiday, could have affected turnout. "In 2014, elections the were held on April 10, which was not during vacations or severe heat. Even schools were open at that time. "This time, elections were on a Sunday and with Saturday being a holiday people might have gone on a vacation to nearby hill stations due to the heat," he added. Singh expressed happiness that they reached out to the people and said it is an investment that will work in the long run. "The facilities that we provided, the decoration that was done at model polling booths and all the women booths... bottled cold water at polling stations, creche facilities were all appreciated," he said.

Of the seven seats here, which went to polls in the sixth and penultimate phase of the Lok Sabha elections, Chandni Chowk recorded 62.69 per cent turnout and North East Delhi 63.45 per cent. New Delhi, known for its VVIP voters, saw a turnout of 56.47 per cent. The voting percentage for East Delhi is 61.95 per cent, North West Delhi is 58.99 per cent, South Delhi 57.3 is per cent and West Delhi is 60.64 per cent. Voting recorded till 6 pm was 60 per cent and the figure may slightly go up as polling continued at several places way beyond the deadline. "There were queues outside polling station till 6 pm. Turnout is expected to cross 61 per cent by the end of the day," Singh said.

Delhi has 1.43 crore voters and as many as 164 candidates were in the fray, including heavyweights like former chief minister Sheila Dikshit, Union minister Harsh Vardhan, Delhi BJP President Manoj Tiwari, ex-cricketer Gautam Gambhir and AAP''s Atishi. The BJP, Congress and AAP have all exuded confidence of winning all the seven seats. Polling started at slow pace in the morning, but picked up as the day progressed. Several public figures including President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, exercised their franchise. Naidu cast his vote after returning from a four-day trip to Vietnam. From first-time voters to centenarians, there was enthusiasm across all age groups to exercise their franchise. Despite rigorous Ramzan fast and scorching heat, Muslims turned out in large numbers. EVM malfunctioning was reported at Matia Mahal, Malviya Nagar, Tilak Nagar, Chandni Chowk and some other places. Singh said eight per cent of VVPATs were replaced during the day.

Officials said as many as 778 VVPATs, 141 control unit and 228 ballot units were replaced during mock polls in the morning. During polling, 450 VVPATs, 61 control units and 77 ballot units were replaced. Many voters were disappointed after finding their names missing from the voters list. For instance, 68 year-old Mohammad Shokeen and 12 members of his family could not cast their votes due to the same reason. A resident of South Delhi''s Sangam Vihar, he was not alone to miss out on voting. "This is not acceptable. We are the residents of this area. We have not changed residence and have all documents. Nobody came to our house to gave us slips. We have been voting for so many years," said a furious Shokeen. Singh said he and his office had been asking people to check their names in voter lists for the last six months. "Several awareness campaigns were carried out. They should have checked names before going to vote.

If their names were not there they should have filled form 6. We were accepting forms till April 13," Singh said. Over 60,000 security personnel, including Home Guard and paramilitary personnel, were deployed for peaceful conduct of polling in the city. There were 523 polling locations that were identified as critical. There were no major reports of violence. However, the BJP alleged that AAP''s Kondli MLA Manoj Kumar slapped its party worker. AAP''s South Delhi candidate Raghav Chadha accused BJP workers of rigging votes at a polling booth in Sangam Vihar, even as the poll body rejected his claim. Chadha alleged that the BJP workers colluded with the police and were casting their ballots again and again after removing the ink.

More than 300 poll-related complaints were received by the Delhi Police Control Room. Earlier in the day, after casting his vote, Congress president Rahul Gandhi hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he "used hatred" during the elections but the Congress "used love". "Prime Minister Narendra Modi used hatred, we used love. And, I think love is going to win," Gandhi told reporters here. On his part, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to people to vote for those who have done work and not for those spreading "hatred" and "venom".


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INTERNATIONAL NEWS
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