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Floating votes to play major role: experts

Atul Mathur, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 04, 2013
First Published: 01:31 IST(4/12/2013) | Last Updated: 13:31 IST(7/12/2013)

The last few hours before polling were crucial for candidates and political parties looking to make an impact in the Delhi Assembly polls.

This was the time political parties used to discuss booth management strategies and to make a last attempt to convince the heads of various communities, religious and social groups, resident welfare associations, mohalla and gram samitis to vote for them.

With the percentage of floating electors — those who are not sure who are they going to cast their vote for till the last minute — having increased in the past few years, leaders claimed they had intensified their last-minute efforts to garner as many votes as possible.

The leaders as well as the candidates of all major parties give special time to either call up or personally meet the heads of various groups in order to request them for their votes. Most door-to-door campaigns in the last two days, in fact, are actually targeted at floating voters.

“Each candidate and leader and election in-charge of a area has a list of prominent people in their respective constituencies who control votes. Telephone calls are made and in some cases personal meetings are convened to sway these votes in our favour,” said Delhi BJP chief Vijay Goel.

Delhi Congress chief Jai Prakash Agarwal, however, said his party leaders kept in touch with such groups and their leaders throughout the year. “It is not just before the polling that we get in touch with them on a regular basis. We take feedback from them on our work and also inform them about our priorities, etc. We don’t leave it for the last minute,” Agarwal said.

According to political analysts, floating voters are guided by the community leaders, or get influenced by the peer group or neighbourhood and sometimes vote in assumption that a particular party or candidate was likely to win that election.

A major swing in voting pattern of floating voters sometimes has an impact on the election result. The en bloc vote to a cadre-based party may result in big victory margins.

And this time, when the fight is close, floating votes will play a major role, analysts claimed.

“This is first time in Delhi that the voters have a third option available. Those who are undecided till the last minute because they don’t want to vote for either parties, may actually end up voting for the third available option,” said Ravi Ranjan, fellow, Developing Countries Research Centre at Delhi University. 

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