Impressive 55 percent voting in Delhi civic polls

New Delhi, April 16 (IANS) Delhi witnessed 55 percent polling, its highest in 15 years, in the civic polls held Sunday, Delhi's election commissioner Rakesh Mehta said describing it as "impressive but below the anticipated 60 percent".

According to the State Election Commission (SEC), 55 percent of the 1.15 crore total electorate voted to pick representatives to the 272 wards of the recently trifurcated Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) -- East, South and North.

East Delhi had the highest voting percentage at 57 percent, followed by north Delhi at 55 percent, and south Delhi finishing last at 53 percent.

The State Election Commission (SEC), which had mounted a high-profile campaign urging Delhiites to be 'Dabangg' and exercise their franchise, said that rural areas played the Dabangg role, while urban areas remained a 'Pappu' or chose not to vote.

"It was an impressive voter turnout, though we never touched the anticipated 60 percent, it is good that this was the highest in years," Mehta said.

The voting percentage was 42 percent in 2007, 52 percent in 2002, and 41 percent in 1997.

The civic polls saw about 63.25 lakh voters out of 1.15 crore exercising their franchise compared to 42.35 lakh out of a total of around 99 lakh in 2007.

"The Delhiites who cast their votes played the 'Dabangg' role. But in certain up-scale areas of south Delhi, the people became 'pappu', as the voting percent was low," Mehta said.

According to SEC, the Mongolpuri East colony in north Delhi had 76 percent voter turnout and Welcome Colony in east Delhi had 89 percent turnout. Both are resettlement colonies.

Meanwhile, areas like R.K. Puram, where mostly government officers reside, had 36 percent voter turnout while other south Delhi areas like Chittaranjan Park, Greater Kailash I & II, South Extension I & II, Vasant Kunj, Defence Colony and Kalkaji localities, where the affluent middle-class stay, gave a lukewarm response.

For example, Vasant Vihar in south Delhi registered a low turnout of 43 percent.

Mehta said voter turnout also witnessed an increase in certain upscale areas.

He also said poll boycott in Ladpur and Sanoth areas of north Delhi and Kazipur village in outer Delhi also contributed to the dip in voting percentage.

He also said that in many areas, voting went much beyond its scheduled time of 5.30 p.m., and even ended as late as 7.45 p.m.

"We have spent around Rs.50 crore for the election campaign for the MCD polls... as of now I don't have the exact figures," Mehta added.