Indian voters have hit high notes like never before in the first six phases of the Lok Sabha elections, setting the stage for a scorching turnout record in the summer of 2014.
Traditionally, poll pundits see high turnout as a vote for change. Following Thursday’s vote in the sixth phase, 350 million Indian voters (more than the population of the US) have given their verdict in 349 of the 543 seats.
If the turnout trend holds, the record of 63.56% established in 1984 polls, held soon after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, will be eclipsed.
“By this time, the national aggregate of turnout for all the elections held so far is 66%, as against 57.53% for the same constituencies in 2009 Lok Sabha elections,” Election Commission director general Akshay Rout had said on Thursday. “Of course, it is the highest ever.” (Figures may change with repolls ordered in certain polling stations and after factoring in postal ballots).
The poll play is over in some key states such as Maharashtra (48 seats), Tamil Nadu (39), Madhya Pradesh (29), Karnataka (28), Rajasthan (25), Odisha (21), Kerala (20), Jharkhand (14), Assam (14), Chhattisgarh (11), Haryana (10) and Delhi (7).
Up ahead are big contests in Andhra Pradesh, where the political dynamics have changed with the Telangana statehood decision, and 47 remaining seats of Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress had struck it rich in both states in 2009. While Andhra had given the party 33 of its 42 seats, UP yielded 21 of its 80.
Big fights will also take place in West Bengal and Bihar, which have already seen polling action.
Bengal has had two phases of voting for 10 seats; 32 remain. Of Bihar 40 seats, voting is over in 20.