Delhi: Voter turnout at 61%; over to Feb 11

Delhi: Voter turnout at 61%; over to Feb 11

Voted along with my family, including my first-time voter son, Kejriwal said in a tweet.

At least 61% of 1.47 crore voters exercised their franchise on Saturday to seal the fate of 672 candidates fighting the Delhi Assembly elections, with all eyes now focused on February 11 when it will be known whether AAP retain power or BJP will unseat the Arvind Kejriwal-led party to claim the throne after a gap of 22 years.

Delhi Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh told a press conference that 57.06% of people voted till 6 PM. Later, officials put the voter turnout at 61.53% while saying they were waiting for details from some booths.

The final figure will be out only by Sunday morning as the Election Commission allowed voters who were in queue till 6 PM, the deadline for the end of polls, to vote. The turnout has already surpassed the 2019 Lok Sabha election figure of 60.6%.

In the 2015 Assembly elections, the final turnout was 67.12% while in 2013, it was 65.63%. In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Delhi polled 65.1%.

The ruling AAP and opposition BJP claimed they would be the ultimate winners even as Congress, which ruled the capital for an uninterrupted 15 years till 2013, remained a distant third. AAP had won 67 out of 70 seats in 2015 polls while BJP had won the rest three, leaving nothing for Congress.

While no large-scale violence reported during the poll process, there were reports about minor scuffles from some parts of the capital between rival party workers. In one of the incidents, former AAP MLA and Congress candidate Alka Lamba attempted to slap an AAP worker after he made derogatory comments at her near a polling station.

The polling process also saw leaders fighting it on Twitter and TV, with Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari stoking a controversy suggesting that Kejriwal defiled a Hanuman temple while the Chief Minister and Smriti Irani sparred on social media who were joined by controversial BJP MP Pravesh Verma. 

Verma also posted a video on Twitter once again invoking anti-CAA protests in Shaheen Bagh and appealing people to vote for “deshbhakt party” when supporters of anti-CAA protesters were shouting in support of AAP.

If 111-year-old Kalitara Mandal, the oldest voter in the capital, exercised her franchise in the morning itself, prominent figures like former President Pranab Mukherjee, former Vice President Hamid Ansari, Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi were among the prominent voters.

"Voted along with my family, including my first-time voter son. Urge all young voters to come out to vote. Your participation strengthens democracy," Kejriwal tweeted after voting.

Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari stoked a controversy amid polling by suggesting Kejriwal had "defiled" the Hanuman temple where he visited, prompting the AAP to question whether the saffron party views him as an "untouchable".

Kejriwal responded, "ever since I read Hanuman Chalisa on a TV channel, BJP leaders are constantly mocking me. Yesterday, I went to the Hanuman temple. Today BJP leaders are saying that the temple was defiled. What kind of politics is this? God belongs to everyone. God bless everyone, even those in BJP." 

Kejriwal and Union Minister Smriti Irani too sparred on Twitter after the former's "special appeal" to woman voters and asked them to discuss with men as to who could be the right choice. Irani asked whether Kejriwal does not consider women capable enough to decide for themselves who to vote for.

Controversial West Delhi BJP Parvesh Verma tweeted a video, once again invoking anti-CAA protests in Shaheen Bagh. Appealing people to vote, he said, "when anti-CAA protesters in areas like Shaheen Bagh are shouting support for AAP, nationalist Delhiites should get out of their homes in large numbers to the "deshbhakt (nationalist)" party."

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