Nagpur: Barring couple of cases of clashes between workers of Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party, the voting for 62 assembly seats in Vidarbha was peaceful. The turnout of around 60% was lower than the 62% registered in 2014.
A pleasant weather throughout the day without rain or hot temperature did not appeal to the voters to come out in large numbers. The trickle of voters since morning 7am hardly turned into heavy rush or queues even by the closing time of 6pm. The general perception that the ruling saffron alliance was sure to return to power seemed to have triggered a disinterest among the voters.
A higher turnout last time was attributed to anti-incumbency against the then Congress-NCP government and the Modi wave that helped the BJP emerge as the single largest party with 122 seats while the Shiv Sena fighting separately came second with 63. This time, the BJP and Sena are together in a pre-poll alliance and look set to gain in the number of seats.
“The lower turnout indicates a positive vote for the saffron alliance as only our committed voters cast votes. The opposition parties were so ineffective that their supporters knew their vote would go waste and so they stayed away,” said Girish Vyas, the BJP spokesman. He predicted the BJP-Sena would win 50 of the 62 seats in the region.
At Morshi constituency in Amravati district, Swabhimani Shetkari party candidate Devendra Bhuyar alleged that he was attacked by rivals who also set his car on fire. Bhuyar has the support of the Congress and NCP. The police have registered his complaint and are investigating.
In Nagpur rural seat of Saoner, BJP candidate Rajiv Potdar alleged that supporters of his Congress rival and sitting MLA Sunil Kedar attacked him and damaged his car completely.
In Nagpur district’s 12 seats, which are under national focus as it is to be home turf of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and veteran leader and Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari, the turnout was not at all encouraging at 59%.
As in the entire region, people in urban centres were yet again more reluctant to exercise their franchise unlike in rural seats where the turnout was higher.
Interestingly, Congress working president and North Nagpur candidate Nitin Raut and party spokesman Sanjay Dube too saw advantage for the Congress-NCP combine from the relatively low voter turnout in the region. “Large sections of voters saw through the facade of development created by Fadnavis and preferred to stay away from voting. So, the opposition candidates would be better placed at least in Vidarbha,” said Raut.
There were the usual complaints in almost every constituency about EVM snags or malfunctioning of VVPAT machines which were resolved by the election officials. Except for a few missing names, and names of members of the same family getting split in different polling stations, the ease of voting was relatively a few notches up as compared to the Lok Sabha elections held in April-May this year. This probably led to absence of long queues outside the polling stations.
Naxal-sensitive Gadchiroli district may once again top in the region in terms of highest turnout of over 67.5% but in all the other districts of Vidarbha tentative data provided by election officials indicated only around 60% voters exercised their franchise.
Two persons on election duty met tragic death because of health issues in Gadchiroli. A peon, Vijay Khandale (47), died at Chamorshi while a schoolteacher of Etapalli, Bapu Gawde (44) died when he suffered an epilepsy attack when he was at the base camp before leaving for his assigned booth at Pursalgadi village. There were two incidents of voter boycott in the tribal district.
In Yavatmal district’s Umarkhed constituency too voters of Dharkhana village didn’t vote in protest citing administrative failure in providing them basic amenities.