Over the course of polling day in Delhi, over a hundred children sat and played in a brightly decorated room in a municipal corporation school which served as a polling station in Madangir.
The room, decorated with colourful charts and posters specifically for the occasion, was functioning as a creche, a facility started this year by Delhi’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to ease the voting experience for parents coming to polling booths with young children.
Operated by anganwadi workers, similar creches were set up in numerous polling stations across the city. Sitting outside the room, 50-year-old Sunita Kumari informed people about the facility. “Suniye sir, apne bache ko yahan chod jaayein,” said Kumari to every parent walking with their child towards the polling booth.
Several parents welcomed the move as they dropped off their children at the creche and went to vote.
At the Government Boys Senior Secondary School in Tughlakabad village, children were playing with racquets, balls and building blocks. “We were called for a meeting on Wednesday at the SDM office where we were told about this facility. The only problem is we have no water or snacks. Since these are small children, some toffees or biscuits should have been provided. We brought the toys from our anganwadi centres,” said Suman Sharma, one of the workers in charge.
Some designated creches, however, didn’t take off. Under a tree in the sprawling government school in Bulbuli Khana, Turkman Gate, sat anganwadi helper Kailash Devi (54). From 7 am-6 pm, Devi was supposed to take care of children, who accompanied their parents to the polling station, but the lack of a designated room served as a deterrent. “No room has been opened. There are toys inside, I suppose… But I am just sitting in the heat,” she said.