In the past two Lok Sabha elections, the Saurashtra-Kutch region has recorded the lowest voter turnout among all four regions of the state. On the contrary, South Gujarat has registered the highest voter turnout throughout the past decade.
Adverse climatic conditions and large-scale migration of youths from Saurashtra to other regions are said to be the main factors causing the low voter turnout.
Saurashtra has eight Lok Sabha seats including Kutch, Jamnagar, Surendranagar, Amreli, Rajkot, Porbandar, Bhavnagar and Junagadh. In the 2009 general election, the overall voting percentage in these eight seats stood at 45.42% against the average 47.89% voting across the state. In 2009, the overall voting percent of the five LS seats of South Gujarat was 53.34%.
In 2014, when the BJP declared Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate, the overall voting in Gujarat stood at 63.66%. Saurashtra registered a voting percentage of only 58.60%, almost 5% below the state average. In contrast, South Gujarat recorded a voter turnout of 70.60%, going 7% above the state average.
Political observers say another reason for Saurashtra having a low voter turnout is because South Gujarat has a much higher rural voter base and voting in rural areas normally exceeds voting in urban areas.
BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya says, "Climatic conditions have an impact on voter turnout and a large number of youth from Saurashtra region have migrated to other parts of the state as well." Paresh Dhanani, leader-of-opposition in the Gujarat assembly said, "The only employment available is agriculture. No new jobs have been created in Saurashtra in the recent past. A huge number of Saurashtra youths have migrated to Surat, Vapi, Valsad, Bharuch and Ahmedabad in search of employment."