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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Special weather forecasts helped EC steer clear of inclement conditions

Zia Haq, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 05, 2014
First Published: 21:01 IST(5/3/2014) | Last Updated: 21:02 IST(5/3/2014)

Bad weather — storms, heat-wave conditions and rains — can swing elections, research has shown. Peaking summer and a knocking monsoon would be two main hurdles for the Lok Sabha elections that are to be held between April 7 and May 12.

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To steer clear of inclement weather, the Election Commission (EC) held several rounds of consultations with the weather department. The panel then settled on the best dates available, keeping in mind the forecast weather trends.

According to India Meteorological Department chief LS Rathore, the poll schedule for each state was drawn up after a special round of forecasts done by the department.

"Let me compliment the EC for staggering the elections in a way that periods of intense heat and rains have been avoided," Rathore told HT. The period chosen is also agriculturally lean, he said.

The main contests in some southern and northeastern states would be held in April to avoid pre-monsoon showers. Rajasthan would see most of its polls in initial phases to avoid heat-wave conditions.

However, 105 seats would go to polls in May, including in states such as UP, Bengal and Bihar, where temperatures could soar up to a sultry 40 degrees Celsius.

India’s June-September monsoon makes landfall in Kerala – its first port of call in the mainland – around June 30, before spreading northwards.

According to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Politics, when compared to normal conditions, rain can significantly reduce voter participation by a rate of nearly 1% per inch. In the US, weather is one yardstick in deciding the so-called swing states.

While higher voter turnout is said to benefit a party on the upswing, a lower turnout can help candidates with high voter dissatisfaction by reducing the number of negative votes. So, not everyone would be praying for a lovely day.


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