The voter turnout in Delhi Assembly elections on Saturday was 57.06%, according to the Election Commission. The national Capital had recorded 67.12% turnout in the 2015 elections.
The voting began at 8 am and ended at 6 pm. The results will be announced on February 11. Most exit polls predicted a sweep for the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party while the Bharatiya Janata Party was expected to improve its 2015 tally.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to vote in large numbers. “My appeal to all voters is that they participate in this festival of democracy in maximum number and create a new voting record,” he tweeted.
Kejriwal also urged the electorate to exercise their franchise. He made a special appeal to the women of Delhi to take the responsibility of the city-state like their homes. “Please cast your vote,” he tweeted. “And a special appeal to the women of Delhi - the way you take responsibility of your home, the same way the responsibility of the country and Delhi is on your shoulders. All the women should cast their vote, and take the men along. Discuss with them who would be the right choice.”
Union minister Smriti Irani accused Kejriwal of misogyny after his tweet. “Do you not consider women capable enough to decide for themselves who to vote for?” she asked in a tweet.
In response, Kejriwal said women had decided who they will vote for. “And across Delhi, women have decided who their family will vote for,” he added. “After all, they have to run the house.”
After casting his vote, the chief minister said he was hopeful that his party will form the government for second time in Delhi. Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said his “sixth sense” told him that the saffron party would come to power in the capital. “Today I sense vibrations from all sides,” he told reporters. “Those who believe in sixth sense...today it is my sixth sense tell me that this time, a BJP government will be formed.”
Meanwhile, technical glitch in Electronic Voting Machines delayed voting at the Yamuna Vihar and Sardar Patel Vidyalaya booth in Lodhi Estate area, ANI reported. An election officer deployed at a polling booth in Babarpur Primary School in Northeast Delhi died of cardiac arrest, according to Delhi Police.
A scuffle broke out between AAP and Congress workers near Majnu ka Teela. In a video, Congress candidate Alka Lamba can be seen trying to slap an AAP worker. AAP leader Sanjay Singh said the party will complain to Election Commission, reported ANI.
Tight security arrangements are in place across the national Capital with extra vigil in Shaheen Bagh and other sensitive areas. Over 1.47 crore voters will decide if Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party will get another term or replace it with the Bharatiya Janata Party or the Congress.
Nearly 2,700 polling stations with over 13,000 voting booths have been set up. “The 2020 Delhi polls will be tech-driven with greater use of technology elements like mobile apps, QR codes, social media interface,” Delhi Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh told PTI.
The Election Commission has made special arrangements in Shaheen Bagh, near Jamia Millia Islamia university. All five polling stations in the area under have been put in the “critical” category. Several Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including Shah himself, have made belligerent remarks against the protestors at Shaheen Bagh, in the run-up to the Delhi Assembly elections. On January 31, Shah said the contest in Delhi was between Modi, who conducted surgical strikes against Pakistan, and the Aam Aadmi Party which backs the Shaheen Bagh protestors.
Since December 15, hundreds of women have been protesting at Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens. Police requests for them to clear the area have not borne fruit.
Delhi saw one of the most communally divisive campaigns the capital has experienced in recent times. Kejriwal focused on the work done by his government in health and education sectors. Much of the BJP’s campaign has sought to divide on the basis of religion, in the hopes of consolidating Hindu voters behind it, a tactic that has worked for the party in other places.
In the last Assembly elections in 2015, the AAP won 67 of 70 seats in an unprecedented sweep.