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  India   Politics  01 Feb 2017  Punjab polls: Higher voter turnout likely to help Akalis

Punjab polls: Higher voter turnout likely to help Akalis

THE ASIAN AGE. | RAJNISH SHARMA
Published : Feb 1, 2017, 1:27 am IST
Updated : Feb 1, 2017, 6:32 am IST

In the 1997 Assembly elections in Punjab, the voting per centage was 68.73 while in 2002 polls it was 65.14.

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal (Photo: PTI)
 Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal (Photo: PTI)

Ludhiana: It is a well-know fact in the country’s electoral trend that a higher voting per centage is mostly an indication of a strong anti-incumbency, often leading to a change of party in power. However, Punjab has consistently defied this political trend and the situation here is completely opposite from that of the rest of the country. Interestingly, in Punjab, it is a drop in voting per centage that often leads to a change of regime while higher voting per centage helps the ruling dispensation retain power.

Now sample this: When Akali Dal-BJP retained power in 2012 Assembly elections defying all political trends, the voting per centage was 78.57 against 75.45 in 2007. This clearly shows that despite a 3 per cent increase in voter turnout, the Akalis managed to retain power.

Here’s another interesting example. In the 1997 Assembly elections in Punjab, the voting per centage was 68.73 while in 2002 polls it was 65.14. So this again clearly reveals that from 1997 to 2002 elections, the voter turnout dropped by almost 3 per cent but bis again led to a change of regime. While Akalis were in power in 1997, they were dislodged by Congress in the 2002 polls despite a drop in voting per centage.

Keeping in view this strange but interesting political trend which is unique only to Punjab, the Akali Dal is hoping that the polling turnout increases again this time. Sources said deputy chief minister and Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal has directed his party cadre to ensure that Punjab witnesses a record breaking voting turnout on the polling day on February 4.

“We feel that the voting per centre this time will be around 80 per cent as against 78.57 during last elections because we feel in Punjab, higher turnout will help the Akali Dal. So we are specially targeting the first time voter to come out and vote in large numbers,’’ said a local Akali leader.

However, Ravneet Singh Bittu, sitting Congress MP from Ludhiana who is also contesting against Sukhbir Singh Badal from Jalalabad, feels that during these elections, a higher turnout will lead to ouster of the Akali-BJP coalition.

“These elections in Punjab will prove that the trend will be in line with other states as an usher turnout will be a vote against the ruling regime. There is such considerable resentment against Akali Dal for 10 years of misgovernance that people will come out in large numbers and vote against Akalis,’’ Mr Bittu remarked.

According to Tanmesh Sharma, who teaches at a college here, higher turnout normally helps the Akali Dal as the increase is on account of rural voters which is a traditional Akali stronghold. “So if there is a drop in voting per centre, it would again be because people in villages, particularly the farming community, has not come out to vote in large numbers and this normally goes against the Akalis,’’ Mr Sharma added.

Tags: punjab elections, sukhbir singh badal, akali dal-bjp
Location: India, Punjab, Ludhiana