Despite several special drives by the authorities concerned to generate awareness among people on exercising their franchise, voters in the urban areas of northern Haryana this time lagged behind their counterparts in villages when it came to voting during the assembly elections on October 15.
As per the data available with the chief electoral officer (CEO), Haryana, the state average was 76.4% this time, the highest ever polling rate. While the rural voters came out in big numbers, urban population remained reluctant to cast their vote.
Voting average of Karnal was 75.8% and the predominantly rural seats of Gharaunda and Indri registered 79.8% and 79.6% turnout, respectively.
On the contrary, Karnal assembly segment with a major portion of city area registered a low poll percentage at 67.8%.
In Panchkula district, only 65.7% voters in Panchkula segment — again a predominantly urban seat — cast their vote, whereas voting average in Kalka was 79.4%.
Kurukshetra had an impressive rate of 80.4% at the district level, while rural seats of Shahabad, Ladwa and Pehowa scored above the district average. In Thanesar, a predominantly urban segment, 75.4% people voted.
In Panipat City constituency, 68.6% registered voters used their franchise while the district average was 75.7% with Samalkha segment scoring the highest at 81.9%.
A political observer said it was a common electoral trend in Haryana where villagers participate more in elections as compared to urban voters.
“This time, supporters of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), which has a strong base in rural areas, came out in a large number for polling. These elections are very crucial for the party, which is out of power for 10 years and its president and former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala and his son Ajay Singh Chautala are serving jail sentence in connection with the junior basic trained (JBT) teachers’ recruitment scam,” he said.
However, dean, social science, Kurukshetra University, RS Yadav said multiple local factors could be behind lower turnout in urban segments. Otherwise, he said, the voting rate has improved and field reports suggest that youths participated in large numbers.
He ascribed the overall better voting rate to a tough multi-cornered contest between the BJP, Congress, INLD and Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC).
“In rural areas, people have a tendency to vote in groups, whereas in Panchkula that has a Metro culture, the turnout was low. At certain seats, people could be unsatisfied as several turncoats or candidates from outside were in the fray,” he said.
Extremes in Karnal
In Karnal district, Garhi Multan village of Gharaunda assembly segment recorded the highest voter turnout of 94%, whereas Bibipur Brahmanan village of Indri had the lowest rate of 42%.