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Urban Apathy Trend in HP, Gujarat 1st Phase; EC Urges Voters to Come Out in Large Numbers for 2nd Phase

By: Nivedita Singh

Edited By: Oindrila Mukherjee

News18.com

Last Updated: December 06, 2022, 16:09 IST

Gujarat, India

Photo for representation. (Image: REUTERS/Amit Dave/File)

Photo for representation. (Image: REUTERS/Amit Dave/File)

Urban assembly constituency of Shimla in Himachal Pradesh recorded lowest voter turnout at 62.53%, a difference of 13 percentage points from state average of 75.6%. A similar trend was noted in first phase polling in Gujarat bringing down voting percentage

After lower voter turnout for polling in Himachal Pradesh and then in the first phase of the Gujarat assembly elections on December 1, the Election Commission of India on Saturday urged voters to come out in large numbers for the second phase on December 5.

Chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar appealed to Gujarat voters to come out in large numbers for the second phase polling so as to compensate for low voting in the first phase. “The possibility of surpassing the 2017 voting percentage now lies in their increased participation only," he said.

In 2017, the voting percentage in the first phase was 66.79 percent. Had the voting percentage in urban constituencies this time been equal to their voting percentage in the 2017 elections, the state average would have been more than 65 percent, against the original 63.3 percent.

The ECI said the urban assembly constituency of Shimla in Himachal Pradesh recorded the lowest voter turnout at 62.53 percent, a difference of 13 percentage points from the state average of 75.6 percent. There was a similar trend of urban apathy in cities of Gujarat during voting on December 1, thus bringing down the voting percentage in the first phase.

“Surat, Rajkot and Jamnagar have recorded lower voter turnout than the state average of 63.3 percent in the first phase. While voting percentage increased in many constituencies, the average voter turnout figure is dampened due to urban apathy in these important districts just as during the recently concluded election to the legislative assembly of Himachal Pradesh," the ECI said.

In a new low, the Gandhidham constituency in Kachchh recorded the lowest polling percentage of 47.86 percent that was a sharp decline of 6.34 percent as compared to previous election. The second lowest voting was in Karanj constituency of Surat, which is 5.37 percent lower than its own low of 55.91 percent in 2017.

Major cities and urban areas of Gujarat have not only recorded a decline in voting percentage as compared to the 2017 polls, but have also voted much less than the state average of 63.3 percent. Decline in Rajkot West is sharp at 10.56 percent, as per the ECI data.

Rural vs urban voting gap as wide as 34.85%

There is a conspicuous gap in voting turnout between rural and urban constituencies. The gap of voter turnout is as wide as 34.85 percent, if rural constituency Dediapada in Narmada district with 82.71 percent voter turnout is compared with Gandhidham that recorded 47.86 percent voting.

“Also, average turnout in important urban areas is lower than turnout in rural constituencies. Within many districts, rural constituencies in those districts have voted much more than the urban constituencies of the same district," the ECI said.

In Rajkot, there is a decline in all the urban assembly constituencies. Similarly, in Surat, all rural assembly constituencies have voted more in percentage terms than urban. In Surat, the difference between urban assembly constituency with lowest turnout and rural assembly constituency with the highest voting is as much as 25 percent.

Fighting urban voter apathy

To address the trend of urban apathy across the country, the ECI has directed all chief electoral officers to identify assemblies and polling stations with low voter turnout to ensure targeted awareness interventions to increase voting percentage.

Kumar along with EC Anup Chandra Pandey interacted with nodal officers of over 200 voter awareness forums from different industrial units in Pune, which has earned the tag of being a parliamentary constituency with one of the lowest voting percentages in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Himachal Pradesh went to polls on November 12, while the first phase of Gujarat was held on December 1. The second phase for Gujarat will be on December 5. The counting of votes for the two states will be held on December 8.

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first published:December 03, 2022, 23:06 IST
last updated:December 06, 2022, 16:09 IST
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