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Over 55 percent turnout in Delhi civic polls, highest in 15 years (Roundup)

New Delhi, April 15 - The civic polls Sunday in the national capital saw a peaceful voting with an estimated 55 percent voter turnout - the highest in 15 years.

The fate of the 2,423 candidates, who are in the fray for 272 municipal wards, will be announced Tuesday.

"People have voted with a lot of enthusiasm and the turnout has been impressive this time. There is a strong possibility of the voting percentage crossing 60 percent," state election commissioner Rakesh Mehta told reporters.

"If all goes well this will be the record highest voter turnout in MCD elections," Mehta told IANS.

In 1997, 51 percent polling was registered, he said.

Starting on a sluggish note at 8 am, the polling picked up after 4 pm and extended a little beyond its scheduled time of 5.30 pm.

The highest voting was registered in east Delhi, while south Delhi, which houses the rich and famous, saw the least.

With 30,000 armed police personnel stationed across 11,543 booths, the polling was peaceful across the capital.

"The elections were very peaceful and there was no law and order issue. All the arrangements were in place...no re-polling will be taking place," said an elated Mehta.

People queued up outside booths across the capital to vote for elections to the newly trifurcated MCD for better civic amenities in the newly formed corporations of east, north and south which till now was one single body.

The highlight of this year's election was that 50 percent seats were reserved for women. While the Congress had put up 142 women out of its 271 candidates, the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had fielded 139 women out of the total of 271.

While sanitation and development remained key issues for the civic polls, people in two villages in west and north Delhi boycotted polls citing poor development in their areas in the last many years.

There were, however, reports of technical snags.

In some areas there were complaints of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) not functioning properly.

Also, many people found their names missing from the voters list. Prominent among them was Congress Rajya Sabha member Parvez Hashmi and his family.

The heavy turnout was greeted with elation by BJP and the main opposition Congress.

"People have came out in large number to dethrone BJP as they are fed up with their rule," Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief J.P. Agarwal said.

Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta said: "The high voter turnout is the result of good governance of BJP in MCD."

Tuesday will give the final verdict whether the BJP will come to power in the just trifurcated municipal corporation or Congress led by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit will make a dent.



-IANS


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