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Haryana elections: NCR doesn't buck the trend, turnout drops here too

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The Times Of India
22nd October, 2019 06:44 IST

GURUGRAM: The low turnout of voters across Haryana did not spare even the National Capital Region, which, too, saw a downward trend. Districts such as Gurugram, Faridabad , Mewat, Rewari, Palwal and Sonipat recorded a drop in the range of nine to 17 percentage points from the 2014 assembly polls.

Gurugram district recorded the state’s lowest, with only 52.5% voters exercising their franchise. Faridabad was a close second with 54.5%. Among the seats where turnout was poor, 70% of them were from Gurugram and Faridabad districts. In Gurugram, three of four seats recorded a drop. In Faridabad, four of six seats saw poor turnouts, with Ballabgarh registering the third-lowest in the state.

The trend was little different in other districts. For instance, Sonipat recorded a 66.3% voter turnout against 73.7% in the last assembly election . The Jat heartland, where BJP was looking to gain some ground, too clocked low turnouts in comparison to the last poll. Sonipat, where BJP’s Kavita Jain was in a tight contest with Congress’s Surender Pawar, recorded 64%. Baroda, Gohana and Kharkhauda (SC), considered Congress strongholds, registered 68%, 65%, and 69% turnouts, respectively.

“A low turnout in Sonipat, compared with other seats in the state, is not very good news for the ruling party. Here, people were expecting a neck-and-neck fight. The low voter turnout could mean a wafer-thin margin,” said Asha Saini, a resident of Adarsh Nagar.

The turnout in three constituencies of Mewat district, officially known as Nuh — Nuh, Punhana and Firozepur-Jhirka — was reported to be 66.3% till 11 pm. In the previous assembly polls, Punhana had recorded a 76% turnout, while Nuh and Firozepur-Jhirka had reported 82% and 75%, respectively.

“We are a family of 100 people, with eight sons and their children. All of us cast our votes,” said Naseeb, a voter from Malab village in Nuh constituency.

Asked about the low turnout, many said a chunk of Mewat residents are truck drivers who are away at work at this time of the year. Although women turned out in large numbers, they are traditionally known to vote according to their family’s wishes in rural areas, experts claimed.

Gauging the mood, Congress and BJP appear to be in a neck and neck contest in Nuh and Ferozepur-Jhirka, while it may be tougher for the ruling party in Punhana, where it has fielded Nauksham Chaudhary. BJP has fielded Zakir Hussain from Nuh and Nasim Ahmed from Ferozpur-Jhirka. However, in both the constituencies, it faces stiff competition from Congress’s Mamman Khan and Aftab Ahmed, respectively.

Experts cited several factors for the drop in turnout — from job losses to shutdown of plants like Maruti in Manesar to lack of improvement in public transport and traffic.

“Overall, the state witnessed close to 11% drop in voter participation. NCR districts followed the trend. Economic slowdown, non-appointment of teachers in colleges, poor management of SSC exams, sorry state of basic facilities like drinking water and electricity left people disgruntled. The ruling party failed to arouse interest in voting, while opposition failed to mobilise voters on the issues. This points to a trend, where voters are increasingly becoming spectators,” pointed out political analyst Ramji Lal.

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