17 per cent polling in first couple of hours in Delhi

Vice President Hamid Ansari, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit were among the early voters in the Delhi Assembly polls which recorded an impressive 17 per cent turn out in the first three hours.

"17 per cent of the electorate have cast their votes till 11 AM. The polling has so far been peaceful and there were no reports of any untoward incident," top officials in the Delhi Election Commission said.

Aam Admi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal, BJP's chief ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan, Priyanka Gandhi accompanied by her husband Robert Vadra and Delhi's Chief Electoral Officer Vijay Dev were also among the early voters.

When asked about the prospects of Congress, Sonia said with a smile, "We will win".

Sonia came with Dikshit and stood in the queue for a little while before being escorted inside the poll booth at the Nirman Bhavan.

Clad in a while kurta-pyjama and a half-jacket, Rahul queued up for around 32 minutes before his turn came at booth number 88 at Aurangazeb Lane in New Delhi constituency from where the Chief Minister is contesting.

Exuding confidence over Congress' victory, Rahul said that Dikshit has "done a lot of good work in Delhi. I think she will do well."

Dikshit struck a cautious note when asked about the possible poll outcome, saying she has kept her "fingers crossed".

"I will keep my fingers crossed," she said.

There were some reports of malfunctioning of electronic voting machines (EVM) 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.

In Jungpura, Badli and Krishna Nagar constituencies, some voters complained that their names have been struck from the electoral rolls and they could not vote.

Elaborate security arrangements were made in the capital with deployment of 32,801 personnel of Delhi Police and 10,700 central paramilitary force personnel to ensure peaceful elections.

The voting began at 8 AM at 11,753 polling booths out of which 630 have been identified as critical and hyper critical.

The Election Commission has appealed to people not to carry mobile phones while going to cast their votes.

A total of 1.19 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise, out of which 66.11 lakh are men and 53.20 lakh are women. The number of first time voters is 4.05 lakh.

810 candidates are in the fray in the three-cornered contest between Congress, BJP and AAP.

While BJP has fielded candidates in 66 constituencies Congress and AAP are contesting from all 70 seats.

BSP, which was the third largest party in last Assembly election, has fielded candidates in 69 seats, NCP in nine and Samajwadi Party in 27 seats. A total of 224 independents are also in the fray.

The entry of Kejriwal's AAP has changed the dimension of the election and it will be interesting to see whether the newbie will just be a "spoiler" or win some seats as predicted by opinion polls, riding on its anti-corruption plank.

The elections in Delhi and four other states are being seen as the semi-final for the Lok Sabha polls to be held next year.

The stakes in this election are high for three-time Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who mainly highlighted her achievements and development agenda during the campaigning, while BJP's Chief Ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan promised to cut power tariff by 30 per cent and slash vegetable prices within 30 days of coming to power.

The BJP has also promised to give 12 subsidised LPG cylinders in a year to each household instead of current nine, besides ensuring full statehood. It has also promised to set up a dedicated Women Security Force to ensure safety of women.

In its manifesto, Congress has promised to set up a Single Command System to address the problems of multiplicity of authorities and a common economic zone for the entire National Capital Region to minimise load on Delhi's infrastructure. It has also promised to construct double- decker flyovers to ease traffic congestion.

The AAP said it will pass the Jan Lokpal Bill within 15 days of coming to power, besides promising to cut power tariff by 50 per cent. It said 700 litres of water per day will be given free to each household.

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