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Voting in 7 high-voltage Lok Sabha seats today
New Delhi, April 9
Voting will be held tomorrow for seven Lok Sabha seats in the country's Capital, seen as test of Aam Aadmi Party's perceived erosion of support base, BJP's claim of 'Modi wave' and assertion by Congress that it was regaining lost ground after drubbing in last assembly polls.

Tight security to check untoward incidents
New Delhi, April 9
The national Capital of India will go to polls tomorrow and the security forces are deployed in large numbers in the city to prevent any untoward incidents. According to the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), as many as 31,025 Delhi Police personnel will be deployed to maintain the law and order.

BJP to deploy workers at every polling booth
New Delhi, April 9
Delhi BJP Lok Sabha Election Management and Campaign Committee chairman Prof Vijay Kumar Malhotra said that a team of 20 workers each at 12,000 polling booths in Delhi would be deployed tomorrow to help voters.


EARLIER EDITIONS



Polling officials check documents at a distribution centre before leaving for the booths on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections, at N.P. Bengali Girls Sr. Sec. School in New Delhi on Wednesday
Polling officials check documents at a distribution centre before leaving for the booths on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections, at N.P. Bengali Girls Sr. Sec. School in New Delhi on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui

Girls pass by a voter awareness billboard alongside a road in New Delhi on Thursday
Girls pass by a voter awareness billboard alongside a road in New Delhi on Thursday. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

OVER TO VOTER NOW! The BJP candidate from the Chandni Chowk constituency, Dr Harsh Vardhan, with his wife at home after the hectic schedule of campaigning in New Delhi on Wednesday
OVER TO VOTER NOW! The BJP candidate from the Chandni Chowk constituency, Dr Harsh Vardhan, with his wife at home after the hectic schedule of campaigning in New Delhi on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

Volunteers to help differently abled voters
New Delhi, April 9
The special initiative by the Delhi Chief Electoral Office (CEO) for better experience of the disabled has been put in place as the city goes to poll tomorrow. Special arrangements have been made for wheelchairs and volunteers posted at the booths to assist differently abled voters.

Rights bodies urge parties to work for animal welfare
New Delhi, April 9
As the country goes to polls, various animal welfare groups have appealed to the voters to ensure that political parties of their choice have animal rights and passage of the new Animal Welfare Act, 2011, on their agenda.

President witnesses changeover of Army Guard Battalion
New Delhi, April 9
President Pranab Mukherjee witnessed a ceremonial changeover of the Army Guard Battalion stationed at the Rashtrapati Bhavan today. The President said that he was pleased to witness the changeover of ceremonial Army Guard Battalion from 28 Madras to 8 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry, in a ceremony which is happening for the first time at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Shia cleric, supporters march up to Mandi House
New Delhi, April 9
Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad who came yesterday from Lucknow to lead a 'Dandi March' from UP border at Gazipur to 11 Murti here said that the government has failed to fulfil its promises on the Karbala land.

Transgenders still face stigma, avoid elections
New Delhi, April 9
The Election Commission may have introduced 'others' gender option in an attempt to uplift the oppressed communities, but the transgender community says they are still living in social stigma and are yet to be included in the democratic process.





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Voting in 7 high-voltage Lok Sabha seats today
The campaign for the election saw BJP, Congress and fledgling Aam Aadmi Party engaged in a fierce race to woo the 1.27-crore voters

New Delhi, April 9
Voting will be held tomorrow for seven Lok Sabha seats in the country's Capital, seen as test of Aam Aadmi Party's perceived erosion of support base, BJP's claim of 'Modi wave' and assertion by Congress that it was regaining lost ground after drubbing in last assembly polls.

The high-voltage contest also assumes greater significance as it may set the stage for the possible assembly polls in the city in the next few months.

The campaign for the election saw main contenders BJP, Congress and fledgling AAP engaging in a fierce race to woo the 1.27 crore voters. Though Delhi has only seven Lok Sabha seats, the election outcome in the heart of the country carries significance due to political symbolism.

Though a total of 150 candidates are in the fray, including 58 Independents, the contest in all constituencies is likely to be three-way among the BJP, AAP and Congress.

For AAP, the election assumes greater significance as it will reflect people's support to it after the newbie created history in the December 4 assembly polls wresting 28 of the 70 seats and forming the government.

Kejriwal had faced severe criticism for quitting from the government after remaining in power for 49 days. Both Congress and BJP had mounted a shrill attack on Kejriwal accusing him of running away from responsibilities.

BJP's campaign was centred around Narendra Modi and the election will determine whether the 'Modi wave' had any impact or not. If the party performs well, it may press for early assembly polls. The BJP had won 31 seats in the assembly polls but refused to form the government.

"Your vote for our seven candidates in Delhi is a vote for me. Vote for them and help me build a strong and prosperous India," Modi appealed to the people through advertisements in the dailies today.

Almost all top party leaders including Modi, L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley campaigned in the city. BJP drew a blank in the 2009 polls, while Congress had won all the seven seats.

After its massive defeat in the assembly polls in December last year, Congress through its campaign tried hard to win back support of the people through rallies and house-to-house contact programme.

The party was routed in the assembly polls as it could win only eight seats. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi had addressed separate rallies.

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal held roadshows and public meetings across the city but its candidates mainly focused on connecting with people through door-to-door visits.

In the prestigious Chandni Chowk constituency, Union Minister Kapil Sibal was facing a tough fight from BJP's Harsh Vardhan and journalist-turn-politician Ashutosh of AAP in his bid to retain the seat for the third time.

In East Delhi, incumbent MP Sandeep Dikshit is pitted against BJP's Maheish Girri and AAP's Rajmohan Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.

A tough triangular contest is in the offing in the high-profile New Delhi constituency where Congress general secretary Ajay Maken was facing two first-time contenders in BJP's Meenakshi Lekhi and Ashish Khaitan from AAP.

An interesting battle is on the cards among BJP's Udit Raj, AAP's Rakhi Birla and Congress' Krishna Tirath in North West Delhi. The Dalit community, which is over 20 per cent of the total voters, may hold sway in the seat.

In South Delhi, BJP candidate Ramesh Bidhuri was pitted against Devender Sehrawat from AAP and Congress' Ramesh Kumar.

BJP has fielded Bhojpuri singer Manoj Tiwari in North East Delhi seat where AAP's Anand Kumar and Congress' J P Agarwal are the other prominent contenders.

There are 29 contenders from New Delhi constituency, the highest for any seat, while the lowest of 14 is in North West seat.

Polling will be held in 11,763 polling stations out of which 327 have been declared critical and 90 hyper-critical.

In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the overall voting percentage stood at 52.3 per cent, which increased to 66 per cent in the 2013 Delhi Assembly election. The Delhi Election Commission said it was confident of surpassing the figure of 66 per cent. PTI

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Tight security to check untoward incidents
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 9
The national Capital of India will go to polls tomorrow and the security forces are deployed in large numbers in the city to prevent any untoward incidents. According to the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), as many as 31,025 Delhi Police personnel will be deployed to maintain the law and order.

About 4,000 Home Guards will be deployed across Delhi. About 40 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces such as the Central Reserve Police Force, Central Industrial Security Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the Border Security Force will also be deployed. They will be working in coordination with the Delhi Police.

The police have set up 88 inter-state pickets at the border areas of Delhi. The idea behind setting up these pickets is to prevent the inflow of anti-social elements, criminals, black money and liquor, which are used to influence voters. Uttar Pradesh will also go to polls tomorrow.

According to the office of the Chief Electoral Officer, the police have registered 324 FIRs under the Arms Act and Excise Act. Three hundred and forty one persons have been arrested under these two acts. The police have seized 432 litres of country liquor and 1381 bottles of Indian Made Foreign Liquor. The police have seized 93 unlicensed arms and weapons and 178 cartridges. About 43.38 lakhs cash that were unaccounted for have been seized.

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BJP to deploy workers at every polling booth
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 9
Delhi BJP Lok Sabha Election Management and Campaign Committee chairman Prof Vijay Kumar Malhotra said that a team of 20 workers each at 12,000 polling booths in Delhi would be deployed tomorrow to help voters.

Each team of workers will consists of 10 men, five women and five senior workers, along with two polling agents and one polling in charge, to make contact twice with voters at their respective polling booths. The party has also deputed a team of 20 advocates at each Lok Sabha constituency and a team of 25 advocates will remain on duty in the Delhi party office.

The desire of the people of the country to make Narendra Modi the Prime Minister is also seen among the people of Delhi on a large scale and lakhs of youth are enrolling themselves to work outside the polling stations on the day of voting.

Malhotra said that if there is more than 60 per cent voting, the BJP will have advantage. The party is trying for more than 70 per cent voting in Delhi this time.

Party spokesman Sanjay Kaul said that a few days earlier the BJP brought to a close its most extensive strategic voter-contact programme that involved 50 teams of over 300 volunteers across the length and breadth of the city. The programme was aimed at 3,000 identified booths marked as "vulnerable" where factors such as history of win or loss, the results of the last assembly elections, margin of win or loss, locality, etc., played a defining role.

These booths were identified in an analytics exercise based on a complex matrix of factors such as traditional "booth behaviour", susceptibility to swing votes, voter profiles, area and geography or caste and community biases, he said.

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Volunteers to help differently abled voters
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 9
The special initiative by the Delhi Chief Electoral Office (CEO) for better experience of the disabled has been put in place as the city goes to poll tomorrow. Special arrangements have been made for wheelchairs and volunteers posted at the booths to assist differently abled voters.

About 2,527 wheelchairs have been received from the Department of Disability Affairs, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for deployment in each polling location. The place will have volunteers bearing a 'May I Help You' tag.

The CEO has also launched software where the disabled can register themselves and specify their requirements. The 260 disabled voters, including deaf and blind, have expressed their willingness to cast the vote by registering on the software. Out of the seven Lok Sabha constituencies, most of the disabled have been registered from the East Delhi constituency.

The Election Commission has also put a ban on mobile phones in polling booths. "Earlier, the polling stations kept the phones, but this time people would have to keep them either at home or in their vehicles," said an official from the election office. The polling stations have also been declared no-smoking zones.

Bringing relief to voters who do not have a voter ID card or have not received their voter slips but are registered on the electoral rolls, the Delhi Electoral office has approved a list of alternative identity documents that voters can use to cast their votes.

Inspired by the impressive voter turnout during the December 2013 Assembly polls, the Delhi Electoral Officer has expressed confidence of breaking a record in the Lok Sabha elections as well.

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Rights bodies urge parties to work for animal welfare

New Delhi, April 9
As the country goes to polls, various animal welfare groups have appealed to the voters to ensure that political parties of their choice have animal rights and passage of the new Animal Welfare Act, 2011, on their agenda.

"PETA urges all the voters to tell their favourite candidates to make sure that animal rights and the passage the new Animal Welfare Act, 2011, is on their political agenda," says Poorva Joshipura, PETA India CEO.

The new act, which is an improvement on the existing Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, has been pending in Parliament since 2011.

The new act stipulates a penalty of Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000 or imprisonment for up to two years or both - for a first offence and Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh and imprisonment for one to three years for a subsequent offence.

"Every party should know that animal welfare is a key concern, and the first step towards addressing that concern would be to update the law that has been pending for three years and would strengthen penalties for cruelty to animals," said Puja Mahajan, senior education coordinator, PETA India.

Although party manifestos address a few animal welfare issues, none of them makes a mention of basic animal welfare issue facing lawmakers today.

The BJP manifesto mentions cow protection and an intention to protect wildlife and also mentions an intention to promote poultry and fish farming.

"PETA engages with members of all political party on the need to protect animals. As the Congress is in power so our main focus has been there. We recently tried to meet the Aam Aadmi Party leaders on the same issue but the very next day, Kejriwal resigned from the Chief Minister's post.

The AAP manifesto proposes enhancing the powers of the AWBI, increasing regulation of industries that use animals, protecting wildlife and educating law enforcers, and also talks of promoting livestock.

"We have also raised the issue of need to strengthen laws and other animal welfare issues with the BJP. None of the manifestos addresses passing of the proposed Animal Welfare Act," Mahajan. PTI

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President witnesses changeover of Army Guard Battalion
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 9
President Pranab Mukherjee witnessed a ceremonial changeover of the Army Guard Battalion stationed at the Rashtrapati Bhavan today. The President said that he was pleased to witness the changeover of ceremonial Army Guard Battalion from 28 Madras to 8 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry, in a ceremony which is happening for the first time at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The President said that the Madras Regiment being one of the oldest regiments of the Indian Army, has a rich tradition of valour and has rendered a distinguished service to the nation since its inception.

The personnel have always set the highest standards in pursuit of excellence that others would do well to emulate. The glory, courage, sacrifice and devotion to duty displayed by the 'Thambis' both on Indian soil and abroad, stand testimony to same.

He stated that today they stand on the threshold of a new assignment and he was confident that they would strive to maintain the best traditions of their regiment and the Indian Army.

He stated that he was confident that the unit would continue to strive for excellence with a professional zeal and meet the high standards required as the ceremonial Army Guard.

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Shia cleric, supporters march up to Mandi House
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 9
Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad who came yesterday from Lucknow to lead a 'Dandi March' from UP border at Gazipur to 11 Murti here said that the government has failed to fulfil its promises on the Karbala land.

Maulana was speaking during a press conference at Mandawali police station in East Delhi, where he was detained. He along with some 1,000 supporters was detained near Gazipur border.

While addressing the conference today, Maulana said, "We have chosen Mahatma Gandhi's teachings by organizing a peaceful Dandi March till 11 Murti at Mother Teresa Crescent, but the Delhi Police allegedly did not allow the peaceful march and detained the marchers."

He asserted that following the conference, he will lead the peaceful Dandi March to its destination and nobody should stop the law-abiding citizens from following the Gandhian path. The detained participants of the march have shown utmost patience despite the grave provocation by the Delhi Police, he said.

They took out the march from Mandawali to 11 Murti today again, but were stopped by the police at Mandi House.

Maulana alleged that the Delhi Police submitted a false affidavit to the High Court and are planning to get the entrance gate of Karbala reopened for illegal business. He alleged that earlier also, the police had misled the court on the ground situation in Karbala at Jorbagh.

While describing the overwhelming support for the 'Save Karbala Movement', Maulana said thousands of people from all parts of the Capital and nearby cities have visited Mandawli police station to express their solidarity. Many important personalities and clerics, including Yahya Bukhari, younger brother of the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Ahmed Bukhari, have also met them.

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Transgenders still face stigma, avoid elections

New Delhi, April 9
The Election Commission may have introduced 'others' gender option in an attempt to uplift the oppressed communities, but the transgender community says they are still living in social stigma and are yet to be included in the democratic process.

Despite 15,000 to 20,000 transgenders living across the national Capital, mere 839 have enrolled themselves (as per the data by Delhi's Chief Electoral office) and will be casting their votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls to be held here on April 10.

"There is a huge difference between the population figure and electoral figure. The figure is low because we still do not feel comfortable to register ourselves in the electoral roll because of the discrimination we suffer," said a transgender Jaya.

She said many of the transgenders are still secluded from the mainstream society and culture.

"The society still needs to accept us. We are a reality and not tales. We are called 'Hijda' (eunuch) and are looked down upon. The voluntarily participation will rise once the government and the people start respecting and accepting us," Jaya said. PTI

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