Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s seat saw a 12.5% drop in voter turnout this year, shows poll dataUpdated: Feb 12, 2020 09:28 IST
Out of seven seats in Delhi, from which ministers of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) contested the February 8 Assembly elections, the highest drop of more than 12 percentage points, when compared to the 2015 poll data, was recorded from New Delhi —chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s seat.
New Delhi is a VIP constituency with a large number of voters who are government employees.
Also, of these seven seats, only one witnessed an increase in voter turnout. Food minister Imran Hussain’s Ballimaran seat, one of the five Muslim-dominant assembly segments in the city, recorded an increase in turnout by three percentage points, when compared to the 2015 polls.
With around 71.5% turnout, Ballimaran stood on top of the list of voter turnout in Delhi after Saturday’s voting. In 2015, the turnout stood at 68% in the constituency.
Other than New Delhi and Ballimaran, the constituencies in which ministers of the AAP government contested are Manish Sisodia from Patparganj, Satyendar Jain from Shakurbasti, Kailash Gahlot from Najafgarh, Gopal Rai from Babarpur and Rajendra Pal Gautam from Seemapuri. The drop in voter turnout in these constituencies ranged between 1.6 to 5 percentage points, when comapred to the last assembly polls.
In constituencies where AAP candidates had won with vote shares margins of more than 65% in the 2015 polls — like Deoli, Sultanpur Majra, Ambedkar Nagar and Sangam Vihar — the drop in voter turnout was limited to around 6 percentage points.
Three of these constituencies are reserved for candidates belonging to the Scheduled Caste categories and they have a large number of slums. The fourth, Sangam Vihar, is believed to be Delhi’s largest unauthorised colony.
The above trends are some that can be drawn out from the final voter turnout figures that were shared by Delhi’s chief election officer Ranbir Singh on Sunday. Singh said that in the 2020 assembly elections, Delhi recorded a voter turnout of 62.59%, compared to around 67% in the 2015 assembly polls.
However, translation of voter turnout figures in terms of potential results remain a tough terrain for political analysts by their own admission.
WHAT EXPERTS SAY
“It is difficult to say what high or low turnouts could translate to in terms of poll results. Turnout figures are capable of representing both anti-incumbency and pro-incumbency sentiments in assembly segments. Better interpretation of these numbers demand better understanding of who is not turning out to vote and why,” said Rahul Verma, a fellow with the Centre for Policy Research.
Praveen Rai, political analyst with the Centre for Studies with Developing Societies, said: “There is a possibility, for example, that many Congress voters stayed away from the polls as the party had practically retreated from the contest. Also, New Delhi has been a VIP seat that was usually contested or endorsed by stalwarts, such as former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit. That factor does not apply any more, with only Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal as the lone celebrity candidate.”
On voters turning out in large numbers in constituencies with large number of slums and unauthorised colonies, which were strongholds of the AAP in the last assembly polls, Rai said, “These areas had recorded exceptionally high turnout in 2015. It seems like the figures have stabilised now. Such areas have a lot of people from the poorer sections and civic issues motivate them to cast their votes. The voter turnout is usually high, as they vote for candidates who promise to help ease their condition of living.”
In Delhi’s unauthorised colonies, the BJP in its campaign tried to woo voters on the basis of conferring ownership rights to residents under a scheme floated by the Central government. The AAP on the other hand included in its poll pitch work done in these localities on the development front – from water and sewer to schools and healthcare. Similarly, both parties also offered slum voters schemes that focus on in-situ rehabilitation in apartments.
Verma said, “Segments inhabited by large number of poor and lower middle class voters often record high turnout numbers because there is a correlation between social class and voting numbers, which applies across India. Still, the turnout numbers alone do not help in accurate speculation about the final results.”
The voter trends data further showed that in 2015 candidates of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had bagged vote share exceeding 40% in six constituencies — Rohini, Shalimar Bagh, Shakur Basti, Vishwas Nagar, Krishna Nagar and Rohtash Nagar. The saffron party won two of these seats. Among the lost seats was chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi’s Krishna Nagar – a traditional CM candidate seat for the party.
Three out of these six constituencies recorded a drop in voter turnout between three to five percentage points, with the others recording drops lesser than that. The other constituency that the BJP won in 2015, despite bagging less than 40% vote share, was Mustafabad. It turned out to be one of the top ten assembly segments in the turnout list released on Sunday evening.
Though voters in Mustafabad turned out in large numbers, with only a 0.4 percentage point drop in turnout compared to the 2015 assembly polls, many of them feared split of votes between the AAP and the Congress. “That is how BJP had won the last time, despite the assembly having recorded high turnout. It can happen again,” said Suresh Sharma, resident of Mahalaxmi Enclave in Mustafabad constituency.
Political analyst Rai attributed the high turnout to Muslims voting in large numbers “to keep the BJP out of power” in the light of ongoing protests against the recently amended citizenship law and election campaign on religious lines, putting the Shaheen Bagh protests at centrestage.
Of Delhi’s 12 constituencies reserved for candidates of Scheduled Castes, in seven the drop in voter turnout exceeded five percentage points. They include Mangolpuri, Karol Bagh, Patel Nagar, Madipur, Trilokpuri and Seemapuri. However, in all these 12 seats, the voter turnout was at least 60%.
The reserved constituencies had played major role in AAP’s win in 2015. In as many as 10 of them, the party had won with their candidates bagging more than 50% vote share.
The constituencies of AAP candidates Raghav Chadha and Atishi, who were fielded from Rajendra Nagar and Kalkaji, recorded a voter turnout drop of 5 and 7 percentage points respectively.
The AAP also gave tickets to some candidates who migrated from other parties days before the polls. They include Shoaib Iqbal in Matia Mahal, Prahlad Sawhney in Chandni Chowk, Ram Singh Netaji in Badarpur and Congress heavyweight Mahabal Mishra’s son Vinay Mishra in Dwarka. Some of the AAP leaders also went to other parties — rebel MLAs Alka Lamba of Chandni Chowk and Adarsh Shastri of Dwarka both joined the Congress.
The Chandni Chowk seat – which is Delhi’s smallest constituency – and the Dwarka seat, also recorded a drop in voter turnouts that ranged between 4.6 and 5.9 percentage points respectively.
In the 2015 assembly polls, the AAP had won these two seats with around 49% and 59% vote shares respectively. (ends)