1984 His­tory, 2014 NewBench­mark

About 15 states & UTs reg­is­ter record num­bers

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

OUR PO­LIT­I­CAL BUREAU

The coun­try recorded its high­est voter turnout since in­de­pen­dence in this elec­tion with the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion (EC) putting the over­all polling fig­ure at 66.38%, a lit­tle over two per­cent­age points more than the record set in 1984.

The record-set­ting trend wasn’t con­fined to the voter turnout. Lok Sabha 2014 elec­tions also hap­pened to be the most ex­pen­sive polls in the his­tory of in­de­pen­dent In­dia, as it cost the state ex­che­quer ` 3,428 crore. The 2009 gen­eral elec­tion had cost ` 1,483 crore. That apart, the EC also seized the big­gest cache of liquor, drugs and cash recorded dur­ing any elec­tions in the coun­try.

Al­though the voter turnout fig­ures avail­able on Mon­day evening were pro­vi­sional, the poll panel is con­fi­dent that the coun­try has cre­ated a record this time. Ac­cord­ing to Ak­shay Rout, di­rec­tor gen­eral at EC, the ten­ta­tive turnout per­cent­age does not in­clude postal bal­lots and re­polling fig­ures. It also doesn’t take into ac­count voting that went be­yond the 6 pm dead­line.

“In fact, once we in­clude that, the polling per­cent­age is ex­pected to in­crease even fur­ther but marginally,” he told re­porters on Mon­day.

While the record fig­ures point to an in­crease in the ab­so­lute num­ber of vot­ers who ex­er­cised their fran­chise as op­posed to 2009, it can also be at­trib­uted to the EC’s spe­cial ini­tia­tive to clean up elec­toral rolls.

“In 2009, 41.73 crore vot­ers cast their vote­andthis­time­this­num­ber­stands at 55.13 crore. This is an in­crease of 32% in terms of ab­so­lute num­ber of vot­ers,” Rout added.

About 1 5 s t at e s a nd Union Ter­ri­to­ries recorded a his­toric tur nout, which in­cludes states such as UP (58.63%), TN (73.68%), AP (74.24%) and Gu­jarat (63.31%). The most keenly watched con­stituency—Varanasi — too saw vot­ers com­ing out in never-seen-be­fore num­bers. This Lok Sabha seat, which wit­nessed a tri-cor­nered fight be­tween BJP’s Naren­dra Modi, AAP’s Arvind Ke­jri­wal and Congress’ Ajay Rai reg­is­tered a polling per­cent­age of 55.34% as against 43.34% in 2009.

“In the last five years, EC has fo­cused on in­creas­ing voter aware­ness and their reg­is­tra­tion. The to­tal elec­torate for 2014 Lok Sabha elec­tions in­creased by over 10 crore vot­ers com­pared to 2009,” Rout said.

“I don’t think there is any cor­re­la­tion be­tween high turnout, in­cum- bent govern­ment and the as­pi­rant party. I would at­tribute the high turnout to the ef­forts of the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion. Also, the gen­eral con­text of these elec­tions, which is broadly anti-cor­rup­tion, has found ap­peala­m­ongvot­er­sand­man­agedto mo­bilisethem,”said­po­lit­i­cal­an­a­lyst Neera Chan­doke.

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