New Delhi, May 15 (IANS) Peaceful by-polls in 13 municipal wards in Delhi recorded a low voter turnout of 45.9 percent on Sunday. While Bhati ward recorded the highest turnout of 64.36 percent, Matiala ward witnessed the lowest turnout at 33 percent — both wards are in south Delhi.
However, State Election Commission (SEC) officials said the overall turnout was not low as compared to earlier turnouts in MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) polls.
“In the 2012 civic polls, the voter turnout was 55 percent, which was the highest at that time. Also, the low turnout can be attributed to these being by-polls which people are not taking seriously perhaps,” an SEC official said.
The SEC statement said the voting — which was held between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. — was peaceful in all the wards — seven in South Delhi Municipal Corporation, four in North Delhi Municipal Corporation and two in East Delhi Municipal Corporation.
The results will be declared on May 17.
“No incident of violence was reported from anyone. Voting was peaceful. There was some problem with EVM (Electronic Voting Machine) at a polling station in Ballimaran but it was later replaced,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, all three major parties in the fray claimed victory.
Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party chief Satish Upadhyaya said the by-polls were a referendum on the Aam Aadmi Party’s governance in Delhi.
“The by-polls are a referendum on the AAP government in Delhi. The real test for the BJP will be the 2017 civic polls where people will vote for us on the basis of our work in the three MCDs,” Upadhyaya told IANS.
Asked how many wards his party will win in the by-polls, he said he didn’t want to go into the numbers game.
The Congress and the AAP claimed anti-incumbency against the BJP.
AAP’s Deepak Bajpai said the low voter turnout will not affect his party’s performance.
“Even thought the turnout was low, we have got good news from all the wards,” Bajpai told IANS.
It is the maiden civic polls for the AAP, which is hoping to replicate its February 2015 assembly elections performance when it bagged 67 of the 70 seats.
Meanwhile, the Congress said it will win the by-polls with comfortable margins.
The Delhi High Court paved the way for the by-polls in 13 wards after the state government unsuccessfully argued to advance the civic polls scheduled to be held in 2017.
The ward seats fell vacant as their respective councillors resigned to contest the Delhi assembly polls.