CEC disappointed over ‘poor voter turnout’ in first phase of Gujarat polls

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Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar has expressed concerns over the poor turnout of voters during the first phase of the Gujarat Assembly elections.

The election commission however noted that the voting percentage increased in many constituencies but the average voter turnout figure could have supposedly been affected by ‘urban apathy’.

CEC Kumar has further urged voters on behalf of the ECI to come out in large numbers during the second phase of the polls scheduled on 5 December to compensate for the same.

“The possibility of surpassing 2017 voting percentage now lies in their increased participation only,” a release from the ECI stated.

The ECI further mentioned that Surat, Rajkot, and Jamnagar recorded lower than the state average which stood at 63.3% in the first phase.

Also Read: Gujarat polls: Campaigning ends for second phase, voting to be held on Monday

The electoral body underlined that the plummeting voter turnout could result in lower numbers than what was witnessed during the 2017 polls where the voting percentage in the first phase of the election stood at 66.79%.

“Major cities/urban areas of Gujrat have not only recorded a decline in voting percentage as compared to 2017 elections but have also voted much less than the state average of 63.3%,” said the release.

“The decline in Rajkot west is very sharp at 10.56% and the Gandhidham assembly constituency in Kachchh district having industrial establishments recorded the lowest polling percentage of 47.86%, a sharp decline of 6.34% than the last election in 2017. The second lowest voter turnout was in Karanj constituency of Surat, which was also 5.37% lower than its own low of 55.91% in 2017,” it noted.

The ECI figured that there was a noticeable gap when voting turnout between rural and urban constituencies was considered which was as wide as 34.85%.

The electoral body further said that in rural areas such as Dediapada and Narmada districts, the voter turnout was 82.17%, while only 47.86% of voter turnout was recorded in Gandhidham and Kuchchh districts, which are urban areas.

“Also, the average turnout in important urban areas is lower than turnout in rural constituencies,” said ECI.

The release added, “all the 26 assembly constituencies which recorded more than 65% voting were rural and not even one urban constituency crossed the mark of 65% voting.”

The ECI in an attempt to mitigate this challenge of urban apathy has directed all chief electoral officers to identify low voter turnout. It has further urged all polling stations to carry out targeted awareness interventions to amplify voting percentage.

The high-voltage campaigning for the second and final phase of the Gujarat Assembly elections ended at 5 pm on Saturday. The main contenders in the elections are the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress, and Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). 93 constituencies will go to polls on Monday spread across 14 districts of north and central Gujarat including Ahmedabad, Vadodara, and Gandhinagar.

The first phase covered 89 seats in 19 districts. The counting of votes will take place on December 8.



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