The by-election for the Rajinder Nagar assembly constituency on Thursday has witnessed over 26% voter turnout till 1pm, said New Delhi district officials.

Across 21 polling locations (190 polling stations) in the constitunecy, more voters turned up in the morning but as the temperature soared the crowd started thinning. However, at booths catering to voters from slums and villages such as Gas Godam Jhuggi and Naraina village more voters were seen even at 1pm.

Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha, whose resignation as MLA from the constituency led to the by-election, arrived at a polling booth in New Rajinder Nagar to cast his vote at 9am. “The people of this constituency gave me much love and affection. They gave me the opportunity to serve them. The people will vote for AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) to take forward the pace of development work taking under the AAP government in Delhi. I am sure that the victory margin will be more than what it was in 2020,” said Chadha, after casting his vote.

BJP MP Gautam Gambhir voted at a polling booth in Old Rajinder Nagar and later said that the BJP has given a local candidate in the election. “People should come out in large numbers and cast their vote. The people are voting for change and they want a local as their MLA,” Gambhir said.

A 79-year-old retired government servant, Ram Chand, who arrived at the polling booth in Old Rajinder Nagar in a wheelchair, said he was happy to participate in the election.

In Naraina village Kanta Mehra, a local resident, said she never misses voting in the election and no eligible voter should miss the chance to vote. “Many women from the village have come out to vote because they give it a priority,” she said.

As many as 164,698 eligible voters are expected exercise their franchise in the polling which began at 7am and will continue till 6pm. The Covid-19 positive persons will be allowed to vote in the last one hour (5pm to 6pm). Of the 164,698 voters in the constituency, 92,221 are male, 72,473 female and four belong to the transgender category. There are 591 persons with disability electors, 39 visually impaired electors and 64 service voters. First time voters, within the age of 18-19 years, are 1,899.

The results of the polls will be declared on June 26.

Though the chief electoral officer Ranbir Singh and other officials have been appealing to people to wear masks and follow social distancing at the booths, many voters were seen without masks.

For the by-election, the AAP has fielded Durgesh Pathak, who has also been the leader in charge of municipal affairs. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is looking to regain the seat which it had held prior to the entry of AAP, has fielded former councillor Rajesh Bhatia. From the Congress, former councillor Prem Lata is contesting the election.

In the 2020 Delhi assembly elections, Chadha won Rajinder Nagar by a margin of 20,058 votes, defeating his nearest rival RP Singh of the BJP.

On Thursday morning, as voting began, Bollywood star Sonam Kapoor made an appeal to voters through a video message to turn out in large numbers and vote. The poll panel has chosen Kapoor as a ‘district icon’ to encourage voters’ turnout.

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