The voter turnout in this Lok Sabha constituency improved from the 2009 mark but much to the disappointment of the district administration, it remained the lowest in the state.
A sustained awareness campaign that targeted all sections of voters helped increase the voting percentage by only a notch (from 64 to 65). Officials attribute the average performance to hot weather, wheat harvesting season and general apathy of the electorate. An entire village Dhadiala in Urmur jurisdiction, having 816 votes, boycotted the elections.
The district election of fice had identified polling stations with low-turnout history and launched systematic voters’ education and electoral participation (SVEEP) initiative to improve the participation in those neighbourhoods, yet the outcome was not as desired. “We expected a much better turnout,” accepted district returning officer Tanu Kashyap.
The heat and harvesting did play spoil sport, but the campaigners also failed to pull people to the polling booths. The only silver lining was that women voters outnumbered men, in all the nine assembly segments ( Hoshiarpur, Chabbewal, S ham Churasi , Bhulath, Sri Hargobindpur, Phagwara, Urmur, Dasuya, and Mukerian).
WILL AAP’S ‘JHADU’ SWEEP THIS CONTEST?
Most voters kept their choice secret but a wave in favour of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was discernible on Wednesday. Whether people voted for it or not, they were heard discussing its impact on the elections. It was a party that installed no stalls around the polling stations and did no intensive door-to-door campaigning.
Some of the AAP supporters could not even name the local candidate. Many families who vote for the Congress and the Akalis traditionally are known to have voted for the debutant party. “This is the first time I voted for a party other than the Congress,” said an AAP enthusiast.
Many first-time voters claimed proudly to have elected the rookie party. The BJP claims it will damage the Congress; but its own poll arithmetic would also be disturbed to some extent.
The EVMs (electronic voting machines) were moved to strong rooms at Rayat-Bahra Education City on the Chandigarh road and JR government polytechnic on the Jalandhar road. A heavy police contingent guards the results.
Senior superintendent of police Sushil Kumar said the paramilitary forces, Punjab Armed Police (PAP), and Punjab Police were three tiers of the security arrangements.
The votes polled in the Hoshiarpur, Chabbewal, Sham Churasi, Ur mur, Dasuya and Mukerian segments will be counted at Rayat-Bahra and the mandate from Phagwra, Bhulath and Sri Hargobindpur tallied at the polytechnic.