Chandigarh civic poll records high turnout

Chandigarh: Dropping all cynicism about the electoral process, the highly urbane population in the union territory recorded one of the highest turnouts for a civil poll with as many as 60 percent turning up for the weekend poll, yesterday.

The electoral roll for the 26 wards in the civic poll was in excess of 500,000 registered voters.

Though voting was slated to end 5 p.m., the long queues forced officials to allow the people to cast their votes. In many places, voting ended well after 7.30 p.m.

Counting takes place Monday.

Most of the results are expected by afternoon, an election official said here.

The nearly 60 percent turnout of voters is much higher than the 45 percent turnout in the 2006 municipal corporation polls. In ward number six, over 75 percent of the voters cast their votes.

In polls in 1996, the voting percentage was 46 while in 2001 it was 32 percent.

In ward number 1, comprising the city’s upscale sectors 1 to 11 where most of the VIPs, bureaucrats, influential and rich people reside, the voter turnout was an impressive 52 percent compared to lows of 30-35 percent earlier.

Voting, which started at 8 a.m. Saturday, picked up slowly during the day. By 5 p.m., when voting was to officially end, only 45 votes had been cast. However, the actual voting ended much later in the evening as all those queued up at polling stations were allowed to cast their vote.

The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiromani Akali Dal (BJP-SAD) combine claimed that higher voting augured well for them.

“People want a change. The higher voting percentage means people are fed up of the Congress,” Chandigarh BJP president Sanjay Tandon said.

“We are happy with the increase in the voting percentage. The people’s verdict will be in our favour,” Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee (CTCC) president B.B. Bahl said.

The municipal corporation house has 36 members, including 26 elected, nine nominated and the local MP (union minister Pawan Kumar Bansal).

With input from agencies.

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