SCORCHING HEAT on Sunday failed to dampen the spirits of Chandigarh voters as they turned out in large numbers, recording a polling percentage of around 70. Officials were compiling the figures till the filing of the report and the exact turnout will be released on Monday.
Till 5 pm, 63.5 per cent polling was recorded. In the last Lok Sabha elections in 2014, the turnout was 73.7 per cent.
The residents began celebrating democracy early by beating a path to the beautifully decorated booths as early as 6.15 am even though voting started at 7. Polling was peaceful with no reports of any untoward incident under the watchful eyes of 2,900 policemen.
The polling stations, which were mostly set up in schools, were decorated with flowers, buntings and even rangolis, giving the entire exercise a festive affair. Some even had selfie booths. The 597 polling booths in Chandigarh, which had begun to get a trickle of voters early in the morning, saw quite a torrent around 9 am, with people queuing up way outside the stations, mostly schools. There were serpentine queues at Dhanas and Mauli Jagran colonies for economically weaker sections and people had to wait for up to three hours to cast their votes.
The city recorded a polling percentage of 22.3 till 11.30 am, and 42 per cent by 2 pm. Roads and markets remained deserted as the Chandigarh Administration had already issued a notification that shops and all commercial establishments will remain closed on Sunday. With the police on poll duty, the traffic lights were also in the blink mode.
For many voters, the main attraction was the selfie point created at most of the polling booths where voters, especially the first-time voters, were seen getting themselves clicked with their inked fingers.
Supporters of political parties had put up tents near the polling station to make last-minute efforts requesting them to vote for their respective candidate. Local councillors kept sending messages to people of their wards till 5.30 pm.
BJP councillor Arun Sood began sending messages at 6.30 am and tried to woo voters with, “BJP ko vote dein…Pehle matdaan fir jalpan.” Congress councillor Devinder Singh Babla, his wife and two sons could be seen manning the party booths in sectors 27, 28 and 30.
Even though the results will be declared on May 23, at Dadumajra, half an hour after polling ended, BJP workers were seen celebrating with slogans such as “23 May Congress gayi” and “Abki bar 300 paar.” They celebrated in the middle of the road much to the chagrin of motorists.
Cell phone sewa
At many polling booths at Mauli Jagran, Manimajra, Daria, Kishangarh, and Sector 47, people could be heard complaining about mobile phones, which were not allowed inside. At Daria, volunteers of Nishkam Seva were seen standing outside only to take care of the phones given by voters. Harjeet Singh, Maninder Singh and Rajinder Singh told Chandigarh Newsline that 45 volunteers were doing this service at various polling booths.
Even though the administration had made a provision for wheelchairs at every centre, some elderly were not satisfied with their condition. At certain polling booths, there were more senior citizens than the wheelchairs needed for them.
Pink booths for women
In a first, three pink booths were made by the election department where it was all women staff. Also, one polling booth was completely manned by staff with disability. Other than the staff from administration, even the police officials deployed here were women.
One pink polling booth was at Carmel Convent School, where three women police officials were deployed. At New Public School and MCM DAV College, Sector 36, which were also pink polling booths, three women police staff each was deployed there.
Other than this, male police force of seven each was also deployed there because voters consisted of male and females both. The polling booth which was manned by disabled staff at Government School, Sector 10, had around nine disabled police officials. The staff included both male and female police staff.
Of the 597 polling booths, 230 were sensitive
Web casting was done at all the booths
No. of male voters: 3,41,640
No. of women voters: 3,04,423
No. of transgenders: 21
Voters in the age group of 18-19 years: 17,598
Persons with disability voters: 3,157