The fate of 164 candidates, who contested the Lok Sabha elections will be decided on Thursday when the counting of votes takes place amid tight security in the national capital. Over 1.43 crore people were eligible to vote in the polls in Delhi, out of which 60.21 per cent had exercised their franchise. The elections for the seven parliamentary seats was largely a triangular contest among the incumbent BJP, a spirited Congress and the AAP – the ruling party in Delhi.
Prominent names in the fray include former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, Union Minister Harsh Vardhan and cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir. Besides Dikshit, who is pitted against BJP lawmaker Manoj Tiwari (from North East Delhi), BJP’s sitting MP Meenakshi Lekhi, Olympian boxer Vijender Singh (South Delhi), who made his electoral debut, and AAP’s Atishi are also in the fray.
While the BJP, which had won all seven seats in the 2014 polls, is keen to regain the turf, the Congress, that ended up at the third spot in the last Lok Sabha elections, is looking to bounce back. Security has been beefed up in and around the counting centres in the seven constituencies of Delhi, officials said. The deployment of security personnel for May 23 has been made in accordance with the guidelines of the Election Commission, an official said. Elaborate security arrangements have been made at the reception-cum-counting centres.
Counting of votes for the Chandni Chowk constituency is SKV Bharat Nagar, for South Delhi, it is Jijabai Industrial Training Institute for Women on August Kranti Marg, Siri Fort and the Integrated Institute of Technology in Dwarka is the counting centre for West Delhi. Counting for the North West Delhi seat will take place at DTU, Shahbad Daulatpur, for North East Delhi at ITI Nand Nagari, for New Delhi at NP Bengali Girls Senior Secondary School in Gole Market and the Badminton Court at the CWG Village will be the centre for East Delhi.
Besides, personnel from Central Armed Police Forces, the Delhi Armed Police and local police, officials from communications, the special branch and PCR have also been pressed into service for crowd control around counting centres and to meet any contingency. With VVPAT counting to be introduced in this Lok Sabha election, the results on May 23 are likely to get delayed by five to six hours, Delhi Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh had earlier said.
“From every assembly constituency, five (VVPATs) will be randomly selected and they will be counted. There is a special VVPAT booth in every counting hall. It will take place in five rounds,” he had said. Delhi has 70 assembly constituencies and in all 350 VVPATs will be counted. A total of 13,819 polling stations were set up at 2,700 locations in Delhi, with one model polling station in each of the 70 assembly segments.
The security at EVM strongrooms would comprise of three layers — the outer cordon, middle cordon and inner cordon, an official from the Delhi Chief Electoral Officer’s office said. The inner cordon is made up of personnel from the Central Reserve Police Force, the middle layer has personnel from the Delhi Armed Police and the outer layer has personnel from the district police. On May 23, there will be a three-tier security in place with the outer cordon beginning 100 metres away from the counting centre, middle layer at the entrance followed by the inner layer, said a senior police officer.
Every counting centre will have see deployment of 1,000 Delhi Police personnel, one company from the CAPF and one company from the Delhi Armed Police. One company comprises 100 personnel. While Northeast, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, East and Northwest parliamentary constituencies will see deployment of 800-1100 police personnel, there will be more personnel deployed at the counting centres in the West Delhi and South Delhi constituencies, he added.
The Delhi Police has issued an advisory informing residents of Dwarka that road number 224 in sector 9 will be closed on Thursday from 4 am till the closure of counting of votes for the Lok Sabha polls. Security was also beefed up there following the Aam Aadmi Party’s letter to the Election Commission urging them to provide additional security at the counting centre in South Delhi, alleging that political opponents plan to manipulate EVMs ahead of the announcement of poll results on May 23. Barricades will be put up 100 metres away from the counting centre in Dwarka and only vehicles of returning officers and SDMs will be allowed to go up to the counting centre, another officer said.