Delhi MCD bypolls: 20.38% voter turnout in first few hours

New Delhi: A turnout of about 20 per cent was registered in the first four hours of voting for the bypolls to five municipal wards in Delhi on Sunday, the first electoral exercise being conducted in the national capital amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The results of these bye-elections are likely to have an impact on the 2022 Delhi civic polls. Polling began at 7:30 am amid tight security arrangements.

By 11:30 AM, the overall turnout across the five wards was 20.38 per cent, with Kalyanpur ward recording the maximum 25.69 per cent, a senior official of the State Election Commission in Delhi said.

According to the State Election Commission, around 2.42 lakh people are eligible to cast their votes in two wards under the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and three wards under the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC).

The main contenders are the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the BJP and the Congress. All of them have expressed confidence that they will emerge victorious in the bypolls, being held under strict COVID protocols.

The municipal wards where polling is underway are Rohini-C, Shalimar Bagh (North), Trilokpuri, Kalyanpuri and Chauhan Banger.

While Shalimar Bagh (North) is reserved for women, Trilokpuri and Kalyanpuri are reserved for the Scheduled Caste (SC) category, according to the poll body.

The turnout at other wards are Trilokpuri (22.68 per cent); Rohini-C (19.11 per cent); Shalimar-North (15.13 per cent) and Chauhan Banger (20.14 per cent), the official said.

The bypolls are being seen as the semifinal before the elections to all 272 MCD wards in early 2022.

The results for the bypolls will be announced on March 3, officials said, adding that there are 327 polling stations and 26 candidates in the fray.

The officials said COVID-19 patients can vote during the last hour of polling as per the government guidelines.

Thermal guns are being used to measure temperature of each voter and masks and sanitiser bottles being provided at polling stations, another official said.

Of Delhi's 272 wards, North Delhi Municipal Corporation and South Delhi Municipal Corporation have 104 each and East Delhi Municipal Corporation has 64.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has been controlling all three corporations since 2012, when the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi was trifurcated into North, South and East corporations.

The main candidates in the Kalyanpuri ward bye-elections are Dhirendra from the AAP, Siyaram Kanojia from the BJP and Dharampal Maurya from the Congress.

Vijay Kumar from the AAP, Om Prakash Gugarwal from the BJP and Bal Kishan from the Congress are contesting from Trilokpuri ward.

In Chauhan Banger, former AAP MLA Haji Ishraq Khan is pitted against Congress' Chaudhary Zubair Ahmad and BJP's Nazir Ansari.

These three wards are under the East Delhi Municipal Corporation. The AAP held these wards. The bypolls were necessitated after sitting councillors contested the assembly polls last year and became MLAs.

In Shalimar Bagh North ward, which fell vacant after the death of the BJP councillor, the contest is between the saffron party's Surbhi Jaju, AAP's Sunita Mishra and Congress' Mamata.

The BJP had retained all three corporations in the 2017 civic polls with the AAP finishing a distant second.

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Free Press Journal