Working overtime to get Delhiites vote in hordes

He calls it ‘Mission 70’ — the target to get 70 per cent of Delhi voters to cast their ballot in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections. And Chief Electoral Officer Vijay Dev does not think it’s a ‘mission impossible’.

“We nearly achieved the target in the Assembly polls. The voting percentage was 66 per cent then. After studying the voting patterns in the December exercise, we would now fine tune our strategy for breaking the 70 per cent barrier,” said Dev, 50, a 1987 Batch IAS officer. 

“We are planning to educate voters so that we can improve the Lok Sabha polls’ voting percentage. During the last parliamentary elections, the turnout in the city was 53 per cent,” he said.  
   The CEO said the ground work had already started for holding the Lok Sabha elections in seven constituencies and his team was working overtime to ensure that urban apathy does not pull down the voting percentage in the capital.

The dates for elections to the seven parliamentary constituencies in the capital are expected to be announced in the first week of March.

Asked if his team was ready to hold simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the city, Dev said: “This decision is to be taken by the Election Commission. “

“We are ready for any eventuality, however, for the time being our mandate is parliamentary election,” said Dev, a BTech from Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi and MBA from the United Kingdom.

 “A few days back, a meeting was held to discuss the issue of paramilitary troops’ deployment in the Lok Sabha election and their movement in phases,” he said.“In December’s Assembly polls, Delhi got 107 companies of paramilitary forces. At that time, only five states had gone to polls and there was no problem in availability of central forces to supplement Delhi Police force,” he said.

In the April-May Lok Sabha elections, each state, including Delhi, has to raise a demand for additional central forces. Since the entire nation is going to polls the planning for deployment of paramilitary forces has to start now, Dev said.

The tech-savvy bureaucrat also gets the credit for developing a system for election officers to get real-time live update on votes being cast in a constituency. “In the Assembly polls, we put up a large screen in our office to get live feed on voting in the New Delhi constituency,” he said.

“Every vote that was being cast, was being reflected on the screen,” he said. On the revision of electoral rolls, Dev said the annual summary revision has been completed till January 31. “Another two lakh names have been added to the list of the 1.2 crore voters who were eligible to vote in the December 4 Assembly polls,” he said.Dev pointed out that a bulk of the new names added to the voters’ list is of young people who turned 18 before January 1, 2014.

Taking note of voters’ complaint of their names missing from the electoral rolls, the CEO said people should realise that possessing an election voter ID card is no guarantee for a person being allowed to vote. 

“People should be aware that the names of people in electoral rolls get struck off during the revision process. To know if their name appears in the electoral rolls, they need to send an SMS on 9211728082 with their election card number,” he said.

The workaholic in Dev leaves him with very little personal time. But if does manage to get some time to unwind, the IAS officer, born in Pathankot in Punjab, drowns himself in poetry and music.

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