New Delhi: Around 1.4 crore people in Punjab excercised their franchise for the single-phase 117-member assembly election on Saturday. The fates of some 1,100 candidates in the crucial polls was sealed. The polls saw a three-way contest between the ruling Akali Dal (SAD)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance, the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which debuted in the state polls this time.
It was a lower turnout than in 2012 when 78% of the voters in the state had turned up to vote. Of the three regions in Punjab – Majha, Malwa and Doaba – rural belts in Malwa, which accounts for 69 of the total assembly seats, recorded the highest voter turnout at around 80% while the border districts in Majha recorded the lowest turnout at 66%.
Fertile Doaba region, which is located between the Beas and Sutlej rivers, recorded a voter turnout of 68.2%.
The turnout in rural constituencies of Malwa was higher than those in urban segments. Mansa in particular, with a large number of rural votes, recorded the highest poll percentage at 87.34 while the majority urban SAS Nagar saw the lowest turnout at 71.97. The Election Commission (EC) was expecting the percentage to go as high as 85.
The new record was created largely because of a surge in Malwa region which has 69 of total 117 seats.
The EC figures show that nine out of 11 districts of Malwa saw voter percentages jump to more than a record 80 per cent this time.
This, according to a report by Times of India, includes the three pocket boroughs of the Badal family – Muktsar, Bathinda and Fazilka. Even Faridkot, where desecration of Sikh holy books had turned the faithfuls against Akali Dal, touched the 80 percent mark.
The high voter turnout is certainly good news for the AAP. Here’s why:
During the election trail, Janta ka Reporter had found that there was an amazing support for the Arvind Kejriwal-led party. There was strong anti-incumbency against the 10-year Akali-BJP rule in the state.
There was a spirited campaign by the AAP in Malwa. Party leaders went all out in the campaign, especially in the last few days of campaigning. While talking to people there, it was apparent that they would vote for issues without bothering who will be the chief minister. Interacting with common people on the ground made it crystal clear that this election was about change.
If this is the case, there are two options: the Congress and the AAP. But the Congress is seen as an old elephant that will not radically alter the way things are done.
Janta ka Reporter had seen good support for the India’s oldest party in Manjha in Doaba. The low percentage of polling in these two regions once again appear to favour AAP.
However, there were many people both in Punjab and Goa, who voiced their concerns on EVM machines being possible rigged between now and the counting day on 11 March.
During Delhi assembly polls, Kejriwal’s volunteers had physically guarded the building, where EVM machines were kept after the polls. But, this time the gap between the polling day and the day the votes will be counted in Punjab and Goa is more than a month. Several AAP functionaries say that this is humanly not possible to guard the building for such a prolonged period.