New Delhi: Nearly 50,000 security personnel, apart from 161 flying squads of police and video surveillance teams, will be deployed as part of elaborate preparations to ensure fair and peaceful polls to seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi on April 10 in which 1.27 crore people are eligible to vote.
A total of 150 candidates are in the fray and polling will be held from 7 AM to 6 PM. The electorate include over 3.37 lakh first time voters. Election Commission has this time done away with provision of voter cards and voter slips being mandatory to cast vote.
Encouraged by the "historic" turnout in the recent Delhi assembly election, Delhi`s Chief Electoral Officer Vijay Dev today said he was hopeful of even better polling percentage in this election and appealed to Delhi residents to come out and vote.
"We have completed all the preparations to conduct free and fair election on April 10. This time around polling hours have been increased by two hours and it will be conducted from 7 AM to 6 PM," Dev said at a press conference.
Polling will be held in 11,763 polling stations out of which 327 have been declared critical and 90 hyper critical.
For the first time, Delhi residents will be able to exercise their franchise even if they do not have Electors Photo identity Card (voter card), but have their names registered in the electoral roll.
"Besides EPIC, as many as 11 other photo identity documents including passport, driving license, service identity card issued by Central and state governments, PAN card, Aadhar card, Smart card issued by RGI under NPR, health insurance smart card issued by Ministry of Labour, MNREGA job card, pension document with photograph and authenticated photo voter slip issued by the election can be used by voters to establish their identity and cast their votes," said Dev.
He added that this provision was not there during last time and voter cards and voter slips were mandatory to cast vote.
"Voters can check whether their names are registered in electoral roll or not through our website or by sending an SMS to designated numbers. Those who have applied for the voter card, but have not received it so far can also use those 11 documents," Dev added.
In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the overall voting percentage stood at 52.3 percent, which increased to 66 percent in the 2013 Delhi Assembly Election.
Dev said 35,000 personnel of Delhi police, 4000 home guards and 40 companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed to conduct peaceful elections.
Apart from that, 161 flying squads of Delhi police, static surveillance teams and video surveillance teams are active."In all the critical polling stations, there will be deployment of central paramilitary force and micro observers to keep a tab on the proceeding inside the polling stations. Besides that, in some of the critical polling stations arrangement of CCTV cameras or web casting has also been done," Dev said.
He said mobile phones will not be allowed inside the polling stations and requested the electors to adhere to this rule and leave them at homes or in their vehicle.
Delhi voters working in the city will get a paid leave on April 10 on the Election Commission direction for exercising their franchise.
"Employees of government and private establishments, besides daily wage and contractual workers will get a paid holiday on April 10. Daily wage and casual workers are also entitled for a holiday and wages on poll day," said Dev, adding that this provision was also extended to Delhi residents who work outside the city.
Dev said punitive action will be taken against establishments for any contravention of the rule and employer is punishable under the relevant section of the Representation of People (RP) Act.
There are 11,763 polling booths situated at 2,527 locations. Beside that, there are also arrangements for 247 auxiliary polling booths.
He said special arrangements have been made for the polling stations declared "critical" and "hyper critical".
He said web casting facility has been installed at 167 polling stations and real time activity at these polling stations can be monitored by election officials.
For police and government officials on election duty, Election Commission has made special arrangements of postal ballots and Election Duty Certificates (EDC) so that they can cast their votes.
The provision of EDC was not there earlier. Those government officials, who have been deployed in the same parliamentary constituencies, will use EDC to exercise the franchise, while the rest will use postal ballots.
"In 2009, only 532 officials had cast vote through postal ballots. This increased to 45,144 in the 2013 Delhi assembly election. This time around, 45,383 EDCs, 25,897 postal ballots to police and 3,478 postal ballots to civil officials have been issued," he said.
To encourage police personnel to cast their votes, SMSes are also being sent to them, asking them to exercise their right, Dev added.
Dev said a matrix of 88 inter-state checkpoints and 491 intra-Delhi nakas has been laid to ensure peaceful environment and stop undue influence of musclemen, illicit liquor and black money.
The sealing of borders will be in place 48 hours ahead of polling. Election campaigning came to an end at 6 PM and any poll related advertisement cannot be shown through electronic or social media.
Whether it is opinion polls or any other election related matter, they cannot be shown on TV. The ban is in the form of holding any further rallies or gatherings.
However, the ban is not applicable on advertisements at officially approved sites.
The Election Commission has also prohibited conducting of any exit poll and its publishing or publicising by means of the print or electronic media or dissemination in any other manner between April 7 and May 12, the period when polling will take place across India in nine phases, Dev added.
It has been further clarified that displaying any election matter including results of any opinion poll or any other poll survey in any electronic media would be prohibited during the period of 48 hours ending with the hours fixed for conclusion of poll in the respective polling areas.
Dev said as many as 70 model polling stations, one in each assembly constituency, are planned to be set up for enhancement of voters` experience.
Over 93,000 government employees have been deployed on election duty. The deployment is for polling duties, reception of polled EVMs, counting, sector officers/magistrates, expenditure monitoring and model code of conduct.