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Voting percentage dips in BJP-ruled urban segments

October 23, 2019 05:22 AM

courtesy ht  oct 23

Pawan Sharma

CHANDIGARH : In the run-up to the October 21 Haryana assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) deployed ‘prabharis’ (in-charges) in urban constituencies with a clear task given to each to focus on a dozen-odd families and ensure they come out to vote.

But in at least 14 urban assembly segments, including Panchkula in north and Ballabhgarh in south, where the saffron party nominees registered a resounding win in the 2014 assembly elections, the polling percentage dipped alarmingly in comparison to the last time.

For example, the lowest turnout of 49.63% was recorded in Faridabad even as in 2014 as many as 60% voters exercised their franchise on the seat.

The low turnout indicates the strategy didn’t yield the desired results.

Among other 13 urban seats where turnout on Monday was not only low but sharply lower than 2014 are Panchkula, Ambala City, Ambala Cantt, Karnal, Panipat City, Sonepat, Jind, Hisar, Rohtak, Gurugram, Faridabad NIT, Ballabhgarh and Nilokheri.

The BJP candidates had won from these segments with big margins.

Sources in the BJP say trained ‘panna prabharis’ were active in these segments also. Panna means a page with each containing dozen-odd names of the voters and families in the voters’ list.

“In the Lok Sabha elections, ‘panna prabharis’ were quite active in my locality. This time, they were missing from the scene,” a Panchkula-based state government employee said.

According to Rohtak-based political commentator, Prof Rajendra Sharma, the low turnout in urban seats can be attributed to multiple reasons, including anti-incumbency and despondency among the urban voters, especially the trading communities.

In Panchkula, 60% votes were polled in comparison to 65.72% in 2014. Ambala City recorded 60.50% polling, a dip of 10%. In Ambala Cantt, 72.8% votes were cast in 2014 and on Monday 62% votes were polled. Similarly, in Karnal, which chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar represents in the assembly, 52.29% votes were polled against 67.9% in the last elections.

While Panipat City recorded 13% dip in the turnout at 55.5%, Hisar polled 59.7% votes against 70.1% polling in 2014. The polling percentage of Gurugram dropped from 64.2% in 2014 to 52.36% this time, while 52.6% voters took the trouble of casting their vote in Ballabhgarh even as this constituency had witnessed 60.4% polling in 2014.

“The urban voters, which also comprise the business community, have traditionally been the core support base of the BJP. Decline in vote percentage in urban areas is not a healthy signal for the party. In fact, traders, small and big businessmen are sulking due to slowdown in the economy,” Prof Sharma, head of political science department in Maharishi Dayanand University (MDU), Rohtak, said.

“By not coming out to vote in big numbers, the urban voters have sent out a clear message to the

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