Assembly polls: Punjab records 72% voter turnout, lowest in 15 years
A voter turnout of nearly 72% was recorded in Punjab where polling for 117 assembly seats was held on Sunday. This is the lowest voting percentage when compared to that observed in three previous assembly polls
A voter turnout of nearly 72 per cent was recorded in Punjab where polling for 117 assembly seats was held on Sunday. The trend as per the updated figures released by the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Monday has worried the poll pundits as according to them there is a fall of 5.45% in the voter turnout if compared to the last state polls held in 2017. The turnout then was recorded at 77.4%. This is the lowest voting percentage when compared to that observed in the three previous assembly elections.
Also, the turnout in the state assembly polls of 2012 (78.3%) and 2007 (75.4%) was recorded more than the number of total votes polled this time.
Out of a total 2.14 crore voters registered, 1.54 exercised their franchise out of which there were 81.33 lakh men and 73.35 women. As many as 282 transgenders also voted.
“Voters in my opinion got confused with so many contenders in the fray, and probably a section decided not to vote,” said director, Institute of Development and Communication, Pramod Kumar. He added that the electorate had many options this time but could not make the right choice. Further, according to him, the trend is alarming.
An officer in the Punjab ECI office attributed the low turnout to the ongoing pandemic, as according to him, voters seemingly were reluctant to come out and were not properly made aware that there are no restrictions even if one has tested positive.
In Sunday’s multi-cornered contest, Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in coalition with the Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) and SAD (Sanyukt) and farmers’ outfit Sanyukt Samaj Morcha (SSM) has fielded candidates. The polls had the highest-ever 1,304 candidates in the fray.
According to Jagrup Singh Sekhon, former head of the political science department of Guru Nanak Dev University, a large population, particularly the youth, have gone abroad or out of the state for studies or employment. He termed the situation alarming as everyone was expecting poll percentage to rise.
Out of a projected population of 9,30406 first-time voters in Punjab, only 278969 (30%) got registered for the February 20 assembly elections. Despite efforts by the EC, the enrolment of new voters is stuck at 3.75 lakh. “We are yet to find out how many youth and first-timers voted,” said an ECI officer posted in the Punjab office.
The state assembly has 117 seats and as per the ECI detail card, Amritsar West (55.40%) polled the lowest followed by Ludhiana South (59.04%) and Amritsar Central (59.19%) constituencies.
Chief electoral officer (CEO) Punjab S Karuna Raju said Gidderbaha remained at the top with the highest polling of 84.93%, followed by Talwandi Sabo (83.70%) and Sardulgarh (83.64%).
ECI: ₹300 crore poll expenditure
The ECI has made an expenditure of ₹300 crore on the state polls. The major expenses went into paying remuneration to the staff engaged in the polling. There was a total of 2.5 lakh government employees engaged in the conduct of the polls. This included 1.2 lakh security personnel, including Central forces and the state police, and the rest were on civil duty in polling stations and other management duties. As many as 24,740 polling stations were set up across the state for polling and each had five staff members on the duty. Other expenses included logistics, election material and media campaigns to educate the voters.
23 tonne of Covid waste
A total of 23 tonnes of Covid waste was collected which includes PPE Kits, face masks, hand gloves and face shields generated from all the polling stations on polling day in the state. The waste was collected and disposed of with the help of district nodal officers of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) appointed in each district.