New Delhi, June 23: Voting began Thursday morning for the bypoll to Rajinder Nagar in Delhi, largely being seen as a battle between a confident AAP and a spirited BJP for the crucial assembly constituency. A total of 1,64,698 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the bye-election, in which 14 candidates are in the fray, with water shortage and the city government's liquor policy among the key election issues.
The two major contenders -- the AAP and the BJP have exuded confidence that their candidates will emerge victorious in the bypoll with a huge margin.
Polling began at 7 AM amid tight security arrangements and is scheduled to be held till 6 PM.
"Mock polls were held at all polling stations, and voting has begun under tight security arrangements for the Rajinder Nagar bypoll. Actor Sonam Kapoor has released a video message to appeal to voters to exercise their franchise," Delhi Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh told PTI.
To raise awareness, Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor has been chosen as an icon, and her images have been used on posters and social media to reach out to greater number of voters, especially the youth. Six companies of CAPF (Central Armed Police Forces) personnel have been deployed for security arrangements during the bypoll necessitated in the wake of 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. Counting of votes will take place on June 26, and poll authorities here are hopeful that that turnout in this bypoll will exceed the voting percentage recorded in the 2020 election.
In the 2020 polls, the voter turnout in Rajinder Nagar was 58.27 per cent -- 58.09 per cent male voters and 58.5 per cent female voters. In addition to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress candidates, there are three others from unrecognised parties and eight Independent nominees.
A total of 190 polling stations, including 13 auxiliary ones, have been set up at 21 locations, equipped with all necessary facilities and amenities for differently-abled people too such as ramps and drinking water, besides creches for mothers if they come to vote with their children. 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.
The number of eligible voters in the Rajinder Nagar assembly seat for the 2022 bypoll is less than the count of electors in this assembly seat that was for the 2020 Delhi Assembly elections, as death and migration of voters have been factored in.
AAP, which enjoys a reigning popularity in this key assembly constituency, has fielded Durgesh Pathak while BJP has fronted Rajesh Bhatia as its candidate. Prem Lata is the Congress nominee. While AAP has exuded confidence that it will register a "record victory" in the bypoll and hand out a crushing defeat to the BJP, the saffron party is hopeful of westing the seat from the ruling party that had bagged 62 of the 70 seats in the 2020 Delhi polls.
From setting up specialised polling stations, including an all-women one, to deployment of security personnel and running awareness campaigns, the Delhi CEO office has made all preparations to ensure that the bypoll is held in an inclusive, accessible and fair manner.
According to the residents of the area, the AAP government's liquor policy and water shortage are among the main issues in the bypoll. The bypoll is taking place amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in the national capital. All safety norms will be followed, and hand sanitisers and masks would also be kept at all booths, in case some has forgot to bring them, officials said.
"For visually-impaired voters, facilities have been created too. The EVM machines will have Braille markings and also on dummy ballot to allow a voter with visual impairment to cast his or her vote independently. Even voters slip will have Braille markings to facilitate them," Delhi Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Ranbir Singh had earlier said. There are 591 electors, who are persons with disability, 39 voters are visually impaired, 64 are service voters, and 2,486 voters who are in the age group of 80 and above.
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