Voter disinterest palpable despite 'fairly large' voting

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New Delhi, Nov 30: Peaceful, normal but lackadaisical polling was seen at most places in capital Delhi with voter disenchantment from electoral franchise coming to the fore at most places, including the high-profile ones like Greater Kailash and Ambedkar Nagar seats where BJP's chief ministerial candidate V K Malhotra and Delhi Assembly Speaker Ch Prem Singh were contesting.

The disinterest was obvious all through the day with people coming in trickles than droves as often seen earlier.

Conversation with most revealed that they did not have any 'clear-cut issue' on casting their ballot, despite price rise, regular terror attacks, string of scams and in-the-ruins basic infrastructure in the capital staring them right in the face.

The proof was seen all over the capital with most constituencies registering minimal percent of voting till even late in the day. By 1530 hrs, Greater Kailash had registered just nearly 37 per cent voting, Sangam Vihar 35 per cent, Ambedkar Nagar 35 per cent and Okhla 37 per cent.

Surprisingly, polling was comparatively brisk in the early stages when polling began at 0800 hrs, but later slowed, and in the later hours before the close was declared at 1700 hrs.

On the other hand, while there seems to be a wave of change in the air, it had for sure fallen short of BJP's expectation of making a landslide return to power after a decade in Delhi.

The Congress' harping of 'progress continuum' in the light of its 10-years toil to make Delhi a 'world class city' and the sudden rise of BSP on the capital's horizon has actually spoilt the voter with ample choice.

However, the voters still remained undecided on their choice as the BJP failed to come up with one single issue that could sweep it back to power, and instead presented a 'bouquet of charges' to deride Congress' decade-long ''anti-people rule''.

Contrasting it was the BSP which while remaining untested in Delhi faced the credibility test and remains devoid of any local leadership.

No other party stands even a whiff of a chance anywhere in the capital, according to election pundits.

Public apathy towards voting had several other factors - either no voter card or no name in voter list, unmarked poll stations leading to running from one booth to another, spineless campaigning and propaganda war among leading parties here --the Congress and BJP.

In Okhla, Mohammad Ikram, a postgraduate student, said it was lack of good candidates which dissuaded him from voting while acknowledging that voting was ''actually helpful''.

His friend Yunus, also a postgraduate, said he did vote but very reluctantly. ''Its because I should, not because I want to vote that I did vote.'' In Greater Kailash, Sonalika Sahay, who works with a multinational company after casting her vote said, ''I voted because this is a very crucial phase for the country as terror was actually closing in on us. I did not vote because I had any feeling to vote as such. Moreover, the credit goes to my mother who brought me here.''

In East Delhi's Kalyanpuri, Trilokpuri, Gandhi Nagar, Krishna Nagar it was found that mostly elders came to vote. The youths, on whom the Congress focussed most this time and claimed to have its support, were found almost missing from the 'scene'. Mostly there were either the elderly or the middle-aged people with their spouse standing in queues.

Rani Devi (43), a housewife, said, ''Since all were coming I also came. ''There was no incentive to come and vote. Price rise had already taken away what was left of us.'' Mohan Kumar (47), a shopkeeper who had come with his mother to vote, said he came for his mother who was a ''regular''.

In West Delhi's Patel Nagar and Baljit Nagar there were hardly long queues to be seen, barring in spurts. People said they ''just wanted to finish off and go''.

On why at all did they vote if they were so disinterested, Rajiv Sharma (41), a government servant, said, ''Chhutti thi isliye (we got a holiday and had nothing to do, hence).'' Sonam (23), who works in a call centre and had come with her elder sister and 5-year-old nephew, said she had no interest in voting. ''I am just accompanying my sister, who had been nagging me for coming along.'' Experts also alluded 'voter fatigue' to the type of politics politicians of today indulge in saying the romance of voting had died.

''With EVMs it's mechanical. Earlier, it was the 'thappa' (stamp) which people would rejoice in stamping. Now the click of a button has sucked out that thrill,'' said one.

Another expert, a sociologist monitoring polls for the last 30 years, said for the common man 'roti' and 'rozi' is now of prime concern. Voting was a favourite in times when there was no 'mara mari' in everyday life.

''It mattered to vote then, today its the self which matters.'' Whatever, the confused, disinterested and disillusioned voters had cast his vote and December 8 is the day of reckoning for the more than 800 contestants who took the plunge into the 'cesspool of politics' for the Delhi chair.

It's wait-n-watch until then.

UNI

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