Beat Stories

The Electoral Mind and what it means for elections

By Vasudha Sahgal

NEW DELHI: There was a considerably large voter turnout in Delhi this year on December 4th, as men and women, young and old, turned out to thumb their political preferences, forcing the Election Commission to extend polling hours beyond 5 PM.

The voter turnout nearly touched 70% by Wednesday evening.

Analysts attributed a variety of factors, but focused mainly on the three-way tussle this time; instead of the usual two-way BJP-Congress face-off, voters were able to choose among the Aam Admi Party, Congress and the BJP.

At a polling station in Chanakyapuri, the diplomatic enclave in southwest Delhi, there was a deluge of young voters, who waited patiently in line to cast their votes.

“The anti- corruption movement has had a huge effect on me,” said Ankit Kumar, 23, a student at Delhi University. “I would like to see change in the nation; the young citizens of this country are restless to see change.”

The drive for change complements but doesn’t entirely reflect the anti-incumbency atmosphere in New Delhi. Statistics suggest that high voter turnout is not just a response to frustration with the ruling party. Looking back, in 1998, when the polling percentages shot up to 48%, Congress came to power. Again, in 2003, polling percentages rose to 54% and Congress won. This repeated in 2008 when 58 % of Delhi’s electorate cast their vote and Congress became the ruling party with Sheila Dixit at the helm.

However, exit poll results in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh tell a different tale; they have unanimously shown BJP take a big lead, which may make Congress jittery about General Elections, due only five months later.

One other reason for high voter turnout is the Election Commissions effort to reach new voters through simplified procedures, and sms-voter-ID check facilities.

With polling booths unable to complete polling by 5 PM, the Election Commission was forced to extend the voter deadline to 7:30 PM. The results are expected later this week. There seemed to be a lingering sense of an important day.



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