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Bypoll: Rajinder Nagar records 43.75 pc voter turnout, lower than 2020

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New Delhi, Jun 23: The electoral fate of 14 candidates are now sealed in voting machines as the bypoll to the crucial Rajinder Nagar assembly constituency passed off peacefully on Thursday with a low turnout of 43.75 per cent. This is significantly lesser than the figures recorded in the 2020 polls, when the voter turnout in Rajinder Nagar was 58.27 per cent -- 58.09 per cent male voters and 58.5 per cent female voters.

Rajinder Nagar bypoll in Delhi: Voting begins

This was also the first electoral exercise in Delhi after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. And, 24 Covid-positive voters turned out to exercise their franchise, officials said. A total of 190 polling stations, including 13 auxiliary ones, were set up at 21 locations, and some "very minor snags" in EVMs were reported at few booths, and replacements were made accordingly, a senior official said. An electronic voting machine consists of a Control Unit (CU) and a Balloting Unit (BU), while Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is an independent system attached with the EVMs that allows voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended.

"During mock poll held early morning, one CU and three VVPATs were replaced. While during the poll, two CU and two BU and eight VVPATs were replaced, meaning there were very minor snags and these were promptly addressed," the senior official told PTI. The voter turnout at the close of polling on Thursday evening stood at 43.75 per cent, poll officials said. A total of 1,64,698 voters were eligible to exercise their franchise in the bye-election in which 14 candidates are trying their luck, although it was largely being seen as a battle between a confident AAP and a spirited BJP for the crucial assembly constituency.

Polling began at 7 AM amid tight security arrangements and was scheduled to be held till 6 PM. However, those who had queued up in time, were allowed to vote past 6 PM Covid-positive voters were allowed to vote in the last one hour after the regular voters had exercised their franchise, following all safety protocols, like masks and gloves. Delhi Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh had earlier in the day told reporters that such voters and staff would also wear PPE kit, but later clarified that only masks and gloves were part of the safety protocol. Voting had begun at a sluggish pace in the morning, with 14.85 per cent turnout recorded till 11 AM, 26.24 per cent till 1 PM, 33.4 per cent till 3 PM, 40.65 per cent till 5 PM and the final turnout was 43.75 per cent, as per data shared by officials throughout the day.

The Rajinder Nagar bypoll turnout was even lower than the figures recorded in the Rajouri Garden bypoll (46.5 per cent) and Bawana bypoll 44.8 per cent), both held in 2017. In 2015 polls, the two Delhi assembly seats had registered a turnout of 72 per cent and 61.83 per cent respectively. To raise awareness, Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor was chosen as an icon. Shortly before the exercise began, Kapoor in a recorded video message, appealed to voters of the Rajinder Nagar constituency to turn out in large numbers. Six companies of CAPF (Central Armed Police Forces) personnel were deployed for security arrangements during the bypoll, necessitated by AAP leader Raghav Chadha leaving the seat after being elected to the Rajya Sabha recently.
Chadha was the MLA from the Rajinder Nagar Assembly seat. The counting of votes will take place on June 26. Potable water supply, sewer lines, broken roads and the new liquor policy were among the key election issues for many Rajinder Nagar residents as they stepped out to vote on Thursday, amid a hot weather. The AAP's Durgesh Pathak is likely to have a close contest with BJP's Rajesh Bhatia, who had also been a councillor from the area. The Congress' nominee is councillor Prem Lata. The two major contenders -- the AAP and the BJP -- have exuded confidence that their candidates will emerge victorious. Of the total number of eligible voters for the bypoll, 92,221 are male, 72,473 female and four belong to the third gender. Also, 1,899 voters in this assembly seat are in the 18-19 age group. PTI

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