Delhi polls: Weddings, bad weather may add to voter fatigue

  • Sidhartha Roy, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 05, 2015 14:14 IST

When Delhi went to polls to elect the 70-member Delhi Assembly in 2013, the city broke all previous records with a voter turnout of more than 65%--shattering its image of an apathetic city full of indifferent voters.

With a re-election happening just in about 14 months, will Delhi break the record again or even match it? The chances do not seem to be very bright.

From about 53% in the 2004 assembly elections and 57% in 2009, the voter turnout in Delhi has been slowly rising over the years, reaching a peak in 2013.

The turnout of 65% was the highest ever for a Delhi assembly election, eclipsing the 61.75% polling in the first election in 1993. It was the second highest for any poll in Delhi--the record turnout of 69.49% was in the 1967 general elections.

In 2013, Delhi voted in record numbers not only in the not-so urban areas traditionally known for strong turnouts but also in upper middle class areas such as Greater Kailash and Defence Colony that saw a turnout of nearly 70%.

There are a few reasons why Delhi may not be able to recreate the magic of 2013. The buzz over voting seen in the 2013 assembly elections is somehow missing this time.

There definitely is a certain amount of voter fatigue in the city. For Delhi, this will be a third election in a span of 14 months. Another dampener, quite literally, could be the weather. The meteorological department has predicted chances of light rain on February 7.

The gloomy weather may discourage people from coming out to vote.

February 7 is considered to be the most auspicious day for Hindus and with a large number of weddings happening in the evening, it could keep many voters away from the polling stations in the national Capital.

"There are four days in February with 'Vivah Yog' and muhurat, these are February 4, 7, 11 and 14. Out of these, February 7 is the most auspicious and there will be many weddings on that day," said Pandit Prakash Joshi, a well-known astrologer.

A major reason behind the record turnout last time was the sustained voter awareness programmes of the Delhi electoral office.

Its sustained campaign, which involved rock concerts, cycle rallies, exhibitions and other voter outreach programmes, had begun in 2012 itself.

With little time available, it has not been able to create a similar buzz.

Though smaller voter awareness programmes at district level started sometime back, the electoral office started city-level mass drives only from Sunday by roping in the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.

While the areas inhabited by lower income groups usually always vote in large numbers, it is the infamously apathetic middle-class that will decide if the turnout is healthy this time.

With the Bharatiya Janata Party traditionally having a support base among the middle-class, a lower turnout could end up helping the Aam Aadmi Party, which has weaned away the lower income voters from the Congress.

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