Why rural voters gave polls a miss | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Why rural voters gave polls a miss

They are usually the ones who brave the searing Delhi summer or chill to turn up at polling booths in support of their candidates. In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, however, that changed as rural voters stayed home and urban professionals queued up to cast their votes, reports Anuradha Mukherjee.

delhi Updated: May 09, 2009 00:35 IST
Anuradha Mukherjee

They are usually the ones who brave the searing Delhi summer or chill to turn up at polling booths in support of their candidates.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, however, that changed as rural voters stayed home and urban professionals queued up to cast their votes.

Jats miffed over one of their own — Parvesh Verma (former chief minister Sahib Singh Verma’s son) — being denied a ticket by the BJP, unconvincing candidates fielded by leading political parties and the absence of political heavyweights are all being attributed as reasons for the low rural turnout.

Verma’s younger brother Master Azad Singh, who claimed to be personally supervising the BJP’s Northwest Delhi candidate Meera Kanwaria’s campaign in the villages, admitted that his nephew being denied the ticket was an issue. “Also the fact that this constituency has been declared a reserved seat has led to a lack of interest,” he said.

In Northwest Delhi, for instance, both Congress candidate Krishna Tirath and the BJP’s Kanwaria are considered outsiders. Apart from this, caste and gender still holds sway and experts said that could be a factor, too. “In Northwest Delhi, the Jat voters may find it difficult to digest that candidates are not just Dalits since this is a reserved seat, but also women. Gender and caste divides are very sharp in these areas,” said Sanjay Kumar, Fellow, Centre for Study of Developing Societies.

Dalits, however, seemed to be voting in full force at almost all the polling stations. “We are Harijans. Verma’s son not getting a ticket is not an issue for us,” said Kishmati Devi, a resident of the village.

In South Delhi, political leaders say Congress candidate Ramesh Kumar was not taken too seriously by the electorate.
“Both Northwest and South Delhi, that were part of the Outer Delhi LS segment, are used to political heavyweights whether Sajjan Kumar or the BJP’s Sahib Singh Verma. In West Delhi, too, the Jats in rural Najafgarh did not vote as they did not connect with the candidates,” said a Congress leader.

In the 2004 General Elections, Sajjan Kumar polled 55.06 per cent of the total votes, while Sahib Singh Verma polled 40.66 per cent votes from the Outer Delhi Lok Sabha segment.

The Assembly seat-wise break up of votes polled clearly shows the dents. Najafgarh Assembly seat in West Delhi parliamentary constituency polled only 40.64 per cent votes, while Mundka (Sahib Singh Verma’s village) in Northwest Delhi polled a slightly higher margin at 41.75 per cent votes.

Narela in the same constituency polled 42.35 per cent votes. The story was repeated in the pre-dominantly rural South Delhi Lok Sabha segment, with at least three Assembly seats — Badarpur (41.57%), Mehrauli (42.52%) and Chattarpur (43.89%) — recording a low poll percentage.