West Delhi’s Rajouri Garden voters today sealed the fate of AAP, BJP and Congress candidates in the city’s sole bypoll marked by low turnout of 47 per cent and snags in VVPAT machines at several booths, and in one EVM.
The VVPAT (Voter-verifiable paper audit trail) machines, which were used across the 166 polling booths, had to be changed at around 38 places while one EVM (electronic voting machine) was also replaced, Chief Electoral Officer Chandra Bhushan Kumar said.
VVPAT is a machine which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party a person has voted for. The slip drops in a box but the voter cannot take it home.
The polling stations remained largely desolate in the first few hours of polling which began at 8 AM. The turnout was 11 per cent at 11 AM, 35 per cent at 3 PM, 44 per cent at 5 PM.
By 6 PM, around 47 per cent of the 1.6 lakh electorate had exercised their franchise. The final figure will however be available only tomorrow, Kumar told PTI.
The constituency had recorded 68 per cent voting in 2013 and 72 per cent in 2015.
The polling took place peacefully today, Kumar said.
AAP candidate Harjeet Singh blamed “confusion” over poll date for the low turnout. MCD polls are to be held on April 23 and Singh claimed “lack of awareness” led to the confusion among the voters.
However, he exuded confidence about pulling off a victory, saying people understand that having an MLA from the ruling party is essential for the area’s holistic development.
However, Kumar dismissed the AAP’s claim.
He said the election office had ensured that each and every household were communicated about the polls, results to which will be out on April 13.
Senior Congress leader Ajay Maken, who was among the early voters, said the bypoll was a referendum on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s two-year rule and claimed his party candidate Meenakshi Chandela will clinch the seat.
Chandela, who had faced defeat in the 2015 polls, said Congress was all set to open its book in the Delhi Assembly, where it has no presence since 2015.
AAP had reduced it to zero in a stunning verdict where it bagged 67 seats while the rest three had gone to BJP.
BJP-SAD combine candidate Manjinder Singh Sirsa, who had won the seat in 2013, said turnout usually remains low during bypolls.
“It is not a matter of concern. The AAP will be relegated to the fourth spot. Congress will be the runner-up. There is not an iota of doubt that BJP-SAD combine will bag the seat,” he said.
The seat fell vacant early this year after AAP’s Jarnail Singh quit as MLA to contest Punjab Assembly poll against SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal, only to lose and considerably dent AAP’s chances of holding on to the seat.