iconimg Tuesday, March 31, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustantimes.com
New Delhi, May 12, 2014
The 2014 Lok Sabha polls saw 66.38% of the 827-million-strong Indian electorate exercising their franchise, helping the country set an all-time voter turnout record. The polling percentage in the world's biggest democratic exercise comfortably surpassed the 1984 turnout of 64% when Rajiv Gandhi became the prime minister after the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi on Monday wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter, "The biggest joy of 2014 Elections has been the increased turnout. Braving the scorching heat & the rain people turned out in large numbers."

The 2014 polls also broke the record in terms of voters' numbers set five years ago when the Congress-led UPA returned to power for a second straight time.

Altogether 551 million voters - more than the combined population of the US, Germany, Canada and the UK - cast their ballots this year.

The figure shattered the previous record of 417 million for any general election set five years ago, election commission director general Akshay Rout told reporters after the nine-phase polling ended.

The poll watchdog added 130 million more voters exercised their franchise than in the 2009 elections, which had recorded a polling percentage of 58.19%. In 2004, the country had seen 56.98% voting.

Akshay Rout said a majority of urban centres like Delhi, Mumbai, Banglaore, Bhopal, Pune, Surat, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Shimla, Gurgaon and Chandigarh recorded increased voting this year as compared with the last time.

Women voters also came out in large numbers and outnumbered their male counterparts in 16 states including Arunachal, Chandigarh, Odisha, Punjab, Bihar and Uttarakhand.

Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest ever voting after the last phase voting with 58.63% polling.

While Bihar witnessed 56.5% voting, Maharashtra saw 54.7%  and West Bengal 81.77%  polling.

According to the commission, Nagaland recorded 88.57% voting, followed by 84.1% in Manipur and 82.8% in Puducherry.

Besides increased voters' participation, the cost of conducting the polls has also seen a substantial jump, with tthe otal expenditure going up to Rs. 3,426 crore as against Rs. 1,483 crore in 2009.

(with AFP and PTI inputs)