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Haryana elections: Voting trend in urban seats may hit BJP's 'Mission 75'

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The Times Of India
22nd October, 2019 07:51 IST

GURUGRAM: The drop in voter turnout, especially in urban areas, is not good news for BJP , political observers have claimed, citing the trend during the last assembly polls in 2014.

Political analysts said 10 of the 11 seats considered urban had gone with BJP in 2014, when the party had made inroads into the state. The party capitalised on it this year, when it registered a thumping victory in the Lok Sabha polls.

Although BJP rallies in the run-up to the assembly polls drew massive crowds, the turnout of voters saw a sharp drop from 2014. Observers believe that the drop in urban areas could hit BJP’s “Mission 75”. This apart, a relatively better turnout in rural areas and the Jat heartland could give opposition parties a leg-up.

“While it’s too early to predict, a low turnout is not a good sign for both BJP and Congress . But this is mostly for BJP, because it’s known to be a party of urban voters. In 2014, 10 of the 11 urban seats had gone with BJP, and all of them had seen an increase in voter participation. So, according to preliminary calculations, things aren’t going as BJP would have liked them to,” noted Karnal-based political analyst Ramji Lal. He added that even Karnal, from where Manohar Lal Khattar is eyeing a second term, saw less than 50% turnout.

“Voters don’t seem to be happy with the party. Else, they have would at least showed support for the outgoing CM,” he added.

Urban seats like Gurugram, Ambala Cantt and City, Rohtak, Karnal, Faridabad and Panipat City have recorded turnouts in the range of 45 to 55%. In all these seats, the drop has been in the range of 10-20 percentage points.

There is a perceived resentment among voters due to the economic slowdown that has adversely affected the trader community, along with rising inflation. In cities like Gurugram, where the electorate is made up of a primarily urban population, civic issues have hardly been addressed in manifestos.

Naresh Pandit, who has traditionally been a BJP voter in Sonipat, is upset with the party for the first time in a decade. Steep traffic fines under the new MV Act and reduced earnings because of the economic slowdown are sore points he suggested.

“Voting for Modi in the Lok Sabha is different from voting for BJP in the assembly. Our CM failed to negotiate relaxations in the MV Act like the way Gujarat did. I recently read an article about increased debt of the government. These things aren’t striking much confidence among voters,” Pandit said. He added that his community (Brahmins) had held a meeting recently to discuss these issues with BJP and weigh options. While he didn’t share the decision taken at the meeting, he suggested that support for BJP isn’t the same as it was five years ago.

In the rural seats of Sonipat — the Jat heartland — turnout was relatively better. Here, Congress is known to have a hold. In contrast, only half of the Gurugram electorate came out to vote.

“We don’t think there was any inspiring promise by any of the candidates. Congress failed to raise our issues and the ruling party didn’t feel the need to talk about them,” said Bhawani Shankar Tripathy, the RWA president of Sector 23 A. He added that only 40-45% from his sector went out to vote.

The drop in turnout in Rewari — from 74.5% to 63.4% — could also spell trouble for BJP, feel experts. BJP had won all three constituencies — Rewari, Kosli and Bawal — the last time.

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