Delhi is voting for the high- stakes municipal polls where a triangular battle is taking place to secure national capitals local bodies.
The State Election Commission has made elaborate security arrangements for the battle for three municipalities spread over 13,000 booths spanning 272 wards.
Over 1.3 crore people are eligible to vote in the polls and of them more than 1.1 lakh are first-time voters. Out of the 13,022 polling stations, police authorities have declared 3,284 as sensitive and 1,464 as hypersensitive. For the first time in MCD elections, None Of The Above (NOTA) option will be available.
The Generation-1 electronic voting machines (EVMs) are to be used for the MCD elections, which the Commission has described as “foolproof”.
The run-up to the polls have been overshadowed by allegations of tampered EVMs, made by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, a charge rejected by the Commission.
“Because of political dynamics involved and some controversies, mere local bodies elections have assume a much wider canvas. So, we want people to also get involved in the electoral process to the fullest,” a senior official said.
The Commission has roped in five celebrities – cricket legend Kapil Dev, cricketer Gautam Gambhir, author Chetan Bhagat, actress Huma Qureshi and Taapsee Pannu of “Pink” fame — for the voter awareness campaigns.
“The publicity material is already out and we have put it up in Delhi Metro and public places and published in newspapers as well,” he said.
The Commission has already been running a campaign with a tagline, “Voter Dhakad Hai (voters are awesome)”, to build up awareness.
“Besides our ‘Dhakad’ print and outdoor campaign, which has really attracted a lot of eyeballs, we are running ad jingles on radio and spots on TV.
The total number of electorate for the civic polls stands at 1,32,10,206 which include 73,15,915 men, 58,93,418 women and 793 voters in the other category.
The Commission said it is preparing for the polls as per the schedule. This would be the first civic poll after the latest delimitation which has redrawn the civic wards.
As per the new delimitation exercise, based on the 2011 Census, each ward now has an average of 60,000 people with an estimated 40,000 voters.
Delhi has 70 Assembly seats and before the delimitation, every constituency had four wards, but, now it ranges from 3- 7.
“Also, the number of candidates in the wards range from a minimum of three to 21- 23, in some of them. Most of them have around 15 candidates. One EVM can accommodate 16 candidates, for more than that, a second unit is attached,” Delhi State Election Commissioner S K Srivastava said.
The erstwhile unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was trifurcated in 2012 into North, South and East Municipal Corporations. While NDMC and SDMC have 104 wards each, EDMC has 64. The campaign for the polls ended this evening.
“The MCD polls in 2012 had seen a turnout of 54 per cent,” the official said.