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Gurgaon assembly polls: Fewer voters due to chaos at booths and disenchantment?

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The Times Of India
23rd October, 2019 07:16 IST

Gurgaon: Compared to 2014, when people had come out in large numbers to vote for change, the participation this assembly election was much lower. Even seats like Mewat, where voter turnout has always been impressively stable in the range of 78-80%, saw a dip of 7 percentage points since last time.

Confusion over booths and poor information dissemination about last-minute booth change, among other reasons, left many voters stranded for hours, exposing gaps in the administration’s election management. While many struggled to cast their vote, some voters decided not to wait around and returned home without polling.

For instance, residents of Mapsco Casabella and Vatika India Next, located in Sector 82, reached the local polling station to find out that their name is not listed. Most of the over 2,000 voters who were supposed to be voting in booth numbers 325 and 325A were unaware that the booths were located in different areas — 325A in Mapsco Casabella clubhouse and 325 in Rampura village. “We got text messages from polling agents mentioning that we’ve been listed in booth number 325. But on reaching the booth, we got to know that we have to go to some other booth to vote,” said Sanjay Mohan, a resident of Vatika India Next.

Residents found it confusing that people living in the same society were assigned different booths, driving some voters away. “Some residents went in the morning to cast votes. But failing to find their names they returned home,” said Kamal Kumar, another Vatika resident.

Other than the confusion on the day of polling, government inaction on several problems and the opposition not taking up the causes could have contributed to the low turnout. In Gurgaon, residents voiced their grievances about the Kherki Daula toll plaza, frequent power cuts, waterlogging and traffic. Five years on, nothing much has changed for them.

Similarly, scores of farmers in the state staged protests asking for implementation of the minimum support price recommendations and payment of their dues, among other demands, all of which went unheeded.

“Haryana became a land of protests in the past five years. From homebuyers to farmers, contractual teachers to government employees, everyone raised several issues. But the government didn’t pay heed and the opposition was in slumber. All of this left voters disenchanted with the electoral process. This was a major reason we saw such poor turnout,” pointed out political analyst Kushal Pal.

Experts feel that while the number of panna pramukhs, the BJP cadre who micromanaging electorates and ensure greater participation, almost doubled in five years, it failed to attract more voters. “The leadership in both parties didn’t strike enough confidence among voters. For BJP, the task was much more difficult than in 2014 when they made inroads. But while they at least tried, it took months for Congress to choose the faction which would have the deciding power. This led to their absence on the ground,” said political observer Ramji Lal.

(With inputs from Ipsita Pati)

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