Maha polls: Turnout on SC seats less than state’s polling percentageUpdated: Oct 23, 2019 00:34 IST
The voter turnout in the 29 Assembly constituencies reserved for Scheduled Castes was much lower than the state percentage — 61.13% — and the adjoining general constituencies. Political observers and leaders feel this is owing to the split in the parties representing the backward classes and the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)’s failure to create confidence among them.
In Bhusawal, Mehkar and Chandrapur, the turnout was 47.76%, 59.86% and 51.64%. Some of the urban SC constituencies like Dharavi, Nagpur North and Ambernath recorded 47.79%, 51.11% and 42.43% respectively. The turnout in these constituencies in the 2019 LS elections was better. “There is a sense of uncertainty among not only the SC voters, but among other backward communities including Scheduled Tribes, some sections of OBCs and VJNTs. They cannot vote for the saffron parties for obvious reasons and do not see any hope in the Opposition parties. The biggest concern now for the communities is the protection from the upper classes. During LS elections, the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi stood as a strong option to the established parties. In the absence of such an alternative, the percentage has again dropped this time,” said Laxman Gaikwad, noted Marathi writer and president of Bahujan Vanchit Aghadi (BVA), the outfit floated by splitting away from the VBA. Gaikwad alleged that the parties in power even resort to various measures to make Dalits either not vote or vote against them to ensure split in ‘secular votes’.
Chief of the Congress’s Mumbai unit, Eknath Gaikwad, said that since the SC constituencies are represented by candidates from the community, the voters from other communities are not keen on voting for them.
Dalit leaders from key parties like Congress and NCP have failed to instil confidence among the backward classes, say observers. “They have lost confidence in the key Opposition parties. Dalit faces like Sushilkumar Shinde, Eknath Gaikwad have failed to emerge as their leaders. Voters from the backward classes have been disillusioned and see no reason to come out and vote,” said political analyst Hemant Desai.