A low turnout of voters was registered in the Bawana Assembly bypoll on Wednesday, with the AAP questioning the scheduling of the election on a working day.
Only 44.84 per cent of an estimated 2.94 lakh voters cast their vote till the end of voting at 6 p.m. at 379 polling booths to elect a new face to represent them in the Delhi Assembly.
The seat is witnessing a triangular contest between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, and the battle is being considered crucial for all three.
While the AAP is hoping to pass this litmus test by reclaiming the seat and putting a stop to its waning popularity, the BJP is trying to continue its winning streak after the Rajouri Garden Assembly bypoll and municipal corporation elections.
The Congress is also hoping to open its account in the 70-member assembly.
AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj said that a low voting percentage was not a good sign for democracy and stressed that it was a part of the conspiracy to hold the election on a working day.
“In an industrial area like Bawana, conducting election on a working day is just a conspiracy. This shows that Election Commission is not sensitive about people voting on the day. On EC’s part it was insensitive,” Bharadwaj told IANS.
The AAP relied heavily on its stronghold, unauthorised colonies and JJ clusters, while the BJP and the Congress expected a good response from the rural pockets.
The bypoll was necessitated after AAP legislator Ved Prakash quit the party and resigned from the Delhi Assembly to join the BJP in March, ahead of the municipal corporation elections.
Prakash is now contesting the election on a BJP ticket, while the AAP has shown its faith in Ram Chandra — a popular Poorvanchali face — with the hope that he would be able to mobilise the migrants from Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Three-time legislator from Bawana Surender Kumar is contesting on the Congress ticket.
The polling in one of the 12 reserved constituencies for Scheduled Castes started at 8 a.m. amid several complaints from different polling booths that the Electronic Voting Machines were not working properly.
Reacting to the low turnout, Delhi Congress spokesperson Pooja Bahri said it showed that people were angry with the government and they did not take the election seriously.
“Of course polling on a working day had an impact on voting percentage but it also signalled that people did not come out to vote because they are annoyed with the government over its MLA switching to the BJP and AAP giving ticket to a former BSP person,” Bahri told IANS.
She added that the low turnout will not have any impact on the Congress candidate’s performance. “We have been getting reports from ground zero that we are going to win the seat,” she said.
A lesser number of voters turned out in the rural areas of the constituency till afternoon as most had gone to work.
An AAP volunteer at a polling booth in Pooth Khurd village in Bawana constituency said: “Low voter turnout is worrying. People here are not coming out enthusiastically to exercise their franchise. Our national convener Arvind Kejriwal did six rallies in this village to mobilise the voters here and we are hopeful to reclaim the seat.”
Contrary to the rural pockets of the assembly, people came out to vote in unauthorised colonies and JJ cluster areas.
A 28-year-old daily wage labourer, Mohammad Mustafa, pointing to the muddy road in JJ Colony Bawana said: “We have voted for development and not for any political party. (Arvind) Kejriwal visited our area and promised to solve our problems and bring development to our area.”