New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party, rather than celebrating the exit poll results, was fretting all Sunday. It was fuming over the inordinate delay in releasing the final voting percentage, even 24 hours after polling ended.
The EC’s explanation, which came as late as Sunday evening -- after AAP leaders threw a tantrum -- was simplistic: the delay in announcing the final turnout was due to multiple scrutiny of the ballots.
EC eventually put the final voter turnout at 62.59 per cent. This, up from the provisional figure of 57 per cent, had come out in "good time", the commission said. Denying there was any delay, it also brushed away Aam Aadmi Party's claim of irregularities.
‘‘It is a process, as and when it is finalised, it is shared with you," said Chief Election Officer Ranbir Singh. The data, he explained, had to be collated through the night and the Returning Officers were busy.
.AAP leaders had pointed out that even in Lok Sabha elections, the turnout is announced the same day. Delhi has only 70 constituencies, but even large states like Maharashtra with constituencies in the hinterland give the turnout percentage the same day.
‘‘Absolutely shocking. What is the EC doing? Why are they not releasing poll turnout figures, several hours after polling?" Kejriwal tweeted hours before the EC briefing in the evening, while his party leader Sanjay Singh hinted at a sinister ‘game plan.’
The EC initially responded by saying that it was still compiling the data at the 13,000 polling stations from the scratch. The voting ended at 6 p.m. on Saturday; however, due to long queues at some booths, more time was given, so that those still in line could exercise their rights, it was contended.
What added to the confusion was that after reporting unusually low voter turnout most of the day on Saturday, the Election Commission reported a spurt in turnout in the evening – almost a 50% surge in the last two hours.
During the day, many also noted the perceptible difference between the figures being reported on the Election Commission's smartphone application and those being released every two hours by the Chief Electoral Officer of Delhi.
The excessive delay led to a sense of disquiet and resulted in doubts being voiced by the Aam Aadmi Party on the security of EVMs.
AAP Cabinet Minister and Shakur Basti candidate Satyendar Jain brought out the incongruity when he said 67.7 per cent votes were polled in the Muslim dominated constituency.
However, the EC website continued to show 49.19 per cent polling. ‘‘Why after 24 hours of official polling the data has not been released by the EC," Jain tweeted.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also questioned the delay, alleging that BJP leaders were providing the voting statistics. The election results will be declared on Tuesday.