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Delhi witnesses RECORD turnout; 66% cast votes

Last updated on: December 04, 2013 16:19 IST

Delhi witnesses RECORD turnout; 66% cast votes

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A record 66 per cent Delhiites voted on Wednesday in the fiercely fought assembly polls, considered the litmus test for Congress ahead of the next year's Lok Sabha elections, as arch rival Bharatiya Janata Party and debutant Aam Aadmi Party made it a tight triangular contest.

The high-pitched battle that saw the BJP aggressively campaigning to stop Congress from getting a fourth consecutive term and greenhorn AAP, trying to corner both traditional political parties on corruption issue, culminated with nearly 80 lakh out of the 1.19 crore voters deciding the fate of 810 candidates.

While the Congress was seeking another term under Sheila Dikshit, the BJP and the AAP were led by their chief ministerial candidates Harsh Vardhan and bureaucrat-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal respectively for the 70-member assembly.

"The turnout has been around 66 per cent. The election was incident free," Delhi's Chief Electoral officer Vijay Dev said addressing a press conference in the evening.

Nearly 70,000 people were standing in queue around 6 pm, he said.

Today's turnout was a record in all elections in Delhi including assembly and Lok Sabha polls in last two decades. In 2008 assembly polls, the overall voting percentage was 57.58 while in 2003, it was 53.42 per cent.

Vice President Hamid Ansari, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Dikshit, Kejriwal and Vardhan were among the early voters.

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Photographs: Graphic: Reuben NV

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Delhi witnesses RECORD turnout; 66% cast votes

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Facing the toughest battle of her political career, Dikshit said she has kept her "fingers crossed" on the outcome of the election.

Price rise and anti-incumbency are seen as major issues that may trouble the Congress which is in power in the city for the past 15 years. After casting her vote, Sonia exuded confidence of her party's fourth straight victory in the Delhi polls.

"We will win," she said with a smile after casting her vote at Nirman Bhavan polling booth. Rahul said Dikshit has "done a lot of good work in Delhi. I think she will do well."

There were reports of malfunctioning of electronic voting machines in some parts of the city but they were rectified, election officials said. The EVM at polling booth in Aurangazeb Lane, where Rahul cast his vote, malfunctioned when polling began.

"We replaced a total of 112 EVMs," said an EC official.

When asked whether high voter turnout was an indication of the Congress' defeat, Dikshit rejected such observation and welcomed the "impressive" polling percentage.

"It is good that people in great numbers have participated in voting. But I cannot say about the results. I am not an astrologer to predict the result. Let us see what happens on December 8," she said when asked about the exit poll predictions that Congress will suffer defeat.

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Image: Polling officers carry electronic voting machines as they leave a polling station at the end of polls, during the state assembly election in New Delhi
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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Delhi witnesses RECORD turnout; 66% cast votes

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Counting of votes will take place on Sunday. "Congress is being projected down by everyone. They always do it. I will not talk about my assessment," Dikshit said.

Vardhan voiced confidence that his party will return to power after a gap of 15 years, claiming it was "far ahead" of Congress and Aam Aadmi Party.

"I can tell you very categorically that we are far ahead of Congress and the new entrant in Delhi politics. I am 100 per cent confident about our victory. I think nobody can make any dent in our vote bank," he said after casting his vote in Krishna Nagar constituency.

Rejecting claims that a triangular electoral contest has made it tough for BJP in the national capital, he said, "If there is any contest or fight, it is between the Congress and the new entrant (for the second place).

"I am confident that BJP will get a handsome majority. This is based on my assessment of the ground situation."

When asked whether he is the next chief minister of Delhi, Vardhan said it would not be proper to say that before results are out.

Fourty-five-year-old Kejriwal, who is contesting against Dikshit and the BJP's Vijender Gupta in the New Delhi constituency, said, "People of Delhi will win and corruption will be defeated in the election."

In New Delhi constituency, the voter turnout was nearly 70 per cent. Elaborate security arrangements were made in the capital with deployment of 32,801 personnel of Delhi Police and 10,700 central paramilitary force personnel.

While the BJP has fielded candidates in 66 constituencies Congress and AAP are contesting from all 70 seats. The Bahujan Samaj Party, which was the third largest party in last assembly election, has fielded candidates in 69 seats, the nationalist Congress Party in nine and Samajwadi Party in 27 seats.

A total of 224 Independents are also in the fray.


Image: A polling officer carries electronic voting machines as he leaves a polling station at the end of polls, during the state assembly election in New Delhi.
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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