The first phase of Gujarat elections for 89 seats saw 5 per cent less polling than in 2017, raising all kinds of theories on who this will benefit or hurt come December 8.
The final poll percentage of phase 1 stands at around 63 per cent, down from over 68 per cent in 2017 and over 72 per cent in 2012. Many factors are being attributed to this — from an apparent lack of enthusiasm amongst Gujarati voters in these elections to the polling being on a weekday, though it was a public holiday.
BJP leaders are dismissing any concerns, arguing that the turnout being low shows there is no major anti-incumbency vote as, if that were the case, voting percentage would have been higher. A senior BJP leader told News18 that the party’s voter did come out to vote for it but the Congress voter may not have, given the despondent campaign by the opposition party.
The Congress camp, however, is citing that when voting percentage fell from 72 per cent in 2012 to 68 per cent in 2017, BJP’s seats had fallen in phase 1 from 63 to 48 while the Congress had gained 16 seats. The Congress claimed that the BJP voter did not step out due to anger with the ruling party. Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal, meanwhile, put out a tweet saying Gujarati voters had done a phenomenal job in phase-1 and voted for “parivartan” (change), to which a Congress leader retorted that there would be a “parivartan” but for the Congress.
The voter turnout has fallen in every district of Gujarat in phase 1 this time compared to 2017. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a whirlwind campaign with 30 rallies and two big roadshows in Ahmedabad and Surat, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi came for only a day and did just two rallies. The Congress adopted the strategy of doing a low-key door-to-door campaign while AAP tried to make the contest a triangular one and announced a CM face too.
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