A record 66 per cent Delhiites voted today in the fiercely fought assembly polls, considered the litmus test for Congress ahead of the next year’s Lok Sabha elections, as arch rival BJP and debutant Aam Aadmi Party made it a tight triangular contest.

The high-pitched battle that saw BJP aggressively campaigning to stop Congress from getting a fourth consecutive term and greenhorn AAP, trying to corner both traditional political parties on corruption issue, culminated with nearly 80 lakh out of the 1.19 crore voters deciding the fate of 810 candidates.

While Congress was seeking another term under Sheila Dikshit, BJP and AAP were led by their chief ministerial candidates Harsh Vardhan and bureaucrat-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal respectively for the 70-member assembly.

“The turnout has been around 66 per cent. The election was incident free,” Delhi’s Chief Electoral officer Vijay Dev said addressing a press conference in the evening.

Nearly 70,000 people were standing in queue around 6 p.m., he said.

Today’s turnout was a record in all elections in Delhi including assembly and Lok Sabha polls in last two decades. In 2008 assembly polls, the overall voting percentage was 57.58 while in 2003, it was 53.42 per cent.

Vice President Hamid Ansari, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Dikshit, Kejriwal and Vardhan were among the early voters.

Facing the toughest battle of her political career, Dikshit said she has kept her “fingers crossed” on the outcome of the election.

Price rise and anti-incumbency are seen as major issues that may trouble Congress which is in power in the city for the past 15 years.

After casting her vote, Sonia exuded confidence of her party’s fourth straight victory in the Delhi polls.

“We will win,” she said with a smile after casting her vote at Nirman Bhavan polling booth.

Rahul said Dikshit has “done a lot of good work in Delhi. I think she will do well.”

There were reports of malfunctioning of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in some parts of the city but they were rectified, election officials said. The EVM at polling booth in Aurangazeb Lane, where Rahul cast his vote, malfunctioned when polling began.

“We replaced a total of 112 EVMs,” said an EC official.

(This article was published on December 4, 2013)
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