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Will Delhi voters fail to keep the promise?

Those dozens of awareness campaigns notwithstanding, Mumbai witnessed a surprisingly low voter turnout of 41 per cent on Thursday.

delhi Updated: May 03, 2009 00:05 IST
Tanya Ashreena

Those dozens of awareness campaigns notwithstanding, Mumbai witnessed a surprisingly low voter turnout of 41 per cent on Thursday.

Poll analysts and social activists in Delhi are now predicting a similar trend in the national capital which goes to vote on May 7.

“According to trends, it seems a low voter turnout in Delhi is for real. But this is not just after looking at what happened in Mumbai. In fact, polling booths across India are registering an all-time low of 15 per cent,” said Manisha Priyam, research scholar, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

She said one of the reasons could be the heat. “Poll timings should be fixed according the to the weather. During the afternoon — from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. — turnout comes down to a low of 2 to 3 per cent in several areas. Even in Rae Bareily, the constituency where Priyanka Gandhi campaigned extensively, a turnout of 3 per cent was registered during the afternoon. Also, there is a problem of genuine voter apathy that needs to be addressed,” she added.

Several non-government organisations responsible for poll awareness campaigns have been recording little or no attendance at the awareness programmes.

“Many people do not vote because they feel even if they vote, their vote does not matter, because they feel ultimately a corrupt candidate will come to power,” said Rajneil Kamath, project in-charge, Youth Parliament, who launched a voters’ registration drive across India.

Social activist Arvind Kejriwal said most voters stay away because they feel there is a lack of choice.

“Though there are 40 Independent candidates in Delhi, most of them do not really stand a chance, and end up serving as mouthpieces or dummy candidates for larger parties,” he said, adding, “Most candidates capable of winning don’t deserve our votes.”

To create more options he said there was a need to implement Article 49(0). “There should be a ‘none of the above option’ in which if none of the candidates or parties qualify with a majority, they should not be allowed to contest elections for a second time,” Kejriwal said.