THE ELECTION Commission announced on Sunday evening that the final voter turnout in the Delhi Assembly elections was 62.59%. With the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) questioning the “delay” in announcing the final turnout earlier in the day, the poll panel said it had followed the “laid down process” to compile data.
While the turnout in Delhi in the 2015 Assembly elections was 67.12%, it fell to 60.5% in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
As the 70 Assembly constituencies in Delhi voted on Saturday, several polling stations saw a rush beyond 6 pm. At 6.30 pm on Saturday, the poll panel had given the estimated turnout as 61.91%.
With no final word from the EC till afternoon on Sunday, AAP chief and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted: “What is EC doing? Why are they not releasing poll turnout figures, several hours after polling?”
Absolutely shocking. What is EC doing? Why are they not releasing poll turnout figures, several hours after polling? https://t.co/ko1m5YqlSx
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 9, 2020
Addressing a press conference in the afternoon, AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh said the party feared a “deep conspiracy”. “Till now, whenever elections have been held, the EC would declare the voting percentage. It has been 24 hours since voting in the Delhi Assembly elections ended, but the EC is not ready to announce the voting percentage. This is pointing towards a deep conspiracy. The EC should explain why it has not announced the voting percentage yet. This is the first time in the history of 70 years that the EC is not ready to announce the voting percentage,” he said.
Hours later, Delhi Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh and Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena addressed a press conference in the evening, where they released the final figures. Denying any delay, Saxena said: “We wanted to come out with accurate figure rather than speculating. This is not uncommon and we are not late… This is not about early or delay. This is a laid down process.”
Earlier, Delhi CEO Singh also denied any delay. “Data is being entered by returning officers into the system. Scrutiny is also being done alongside. Officials have worked through the night to bring the EVMs to strongrooms and to tabulate the data. To a large extent, the exercise is over. The data that is being submitted by presiding officers is being updated,” he said.
Singh said there was no “extraordinary” delay, and the figures were being updated on the voter turnout mobile application regularly.
While an EC official, who did not want to be named, admitted a delay, he attributed it to the application introduced by the poll panel for recording the turnout. “It’s taking officers a little time to enter data into the application. That’s all. During the Lok Sabha elections, there were some complaints of discrepancies between provisional and final turnout data. So officers are being extra-cautious,” said the official.
But Delhi Health Minister and Shakur Basti candidate Satyendar Jain questioned the data shared on the mobile application. “After compilation of form 17c for 143 booths, total 98,012 out of 144,777 votes polled in my constituency (Shakurbasti), that works out to be 67.7% votes, whereas the EC website shows only 49.19% polling. Why hasn’t the official polling data been released even 22 hours after polling,” he tweeted earlier in the day.
The turnout in the constituency was later updated to 67.6%.
The Delhi CEO said officials had started uploading data since morning. “The process started in the morning and was completed at around 7 pm,” he said.
While Ballimaran recorded the highest turnout (71.6%), Delhi Cantonment saw the lowest turnout (45.4%).
Responding to AAP’s allegation that two EVMs were found in the possession of officials on election duty after polling, Singh said these were “reserved machines” and had not been used for polling. He said the district election office has submitted a report in this connection.
“The sector officer of the area was issued two sets of reserved machines, which were not used during the polls. In one case, the vehicle was 500 metres away from the polling station. The official kept one machine in the vehicle and walked back to get the other one. When he was bringing the second machine back, people saw him and surrounded him, asking what he was doing with EVMs after polling. Police were called and the official later submitted the machines at the strongroom,” Singh said.
Meanwhile, the BJP’s Delhi unit condemned the AAP’s criticism. “In the last one week, AAP leaders realised that that they are losing ground. But the exit polls of TV channels, which came out even before completion of voting, gave AAP new hope. The exit polls, which came out soon after 6 pm, must have been based on voter reactions of up to 3 pm or 4 pm polling, and hence are not fully reliable,” said Praveen Shankar Kapoor, Delhi BJP spokesperson.
All exit polls have predicted the AAP’s return to power.