The Telegraph
Saturday , April 26 , 2014
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Polls show urban electorate apathy

Guwahati, April 25: Urban voters’ apathy was again on show during the third phase of polls as Gauhati East — the lone, entirely urban Assembly constituency in the state comprising areas in the heart of Guwahati — recorded the lowest voting percentage among all the Assembly segments in the six parliamentary constituencies that went to the polls yesterday.

Statistics of the third and final phase of polling in the state released by the Election Commission today revealed that the voting percentage in Gauhati East Assembly constituency was 68.43 compared to the total voting percentage of 78.34 in the Gauhati parliamentary seat.

Among the 10 Assembly constituencies under the Gauhati Lok Sabha seat, Boko registered the highest voting percentage of 86.93.

Of the total 220,714 electorate in the Gauhati East Assembly segment, 151,028 voters exercised their right to franchise yesterday, including 77,923 male and 73,105 female voters.

Even in the 2011 Assembly polls in the state, the Gauhati East constituency had recorded the lowest turnout of 56.34 per cent.

An official of the state election department attributed the low voting percentage in Gauhati East Assembly segment to the indifference of a section of urban voters towards the electoral system and apathy to turn up and vote. “The sweltering heat could also be a reason this time,” he said.

He also rued disinclination of many voters in the urban areas to go to polling booths to exercise their right to franchise has also brought down the total turnout figure.

“Discussing politics and cursing politicians over dinner and drinks is a favourite pastime of the urban middle class. Not going out to vote is a manifestation of their hypocrisy,” he said.

District election officer of Kamrup (metro) Chinmoy Phookan described the low voter turnout in urban areas as a common phenomenon in the country.

“Even in cities like Mumbai, the voting percentage was low in this election,” he said.

“The silver lining, though, is that the voting percentage in Gauhati East this election exceeded the voting percentage of the 2009 general elections.”

According to Phookan, the turnout of women voters increased this time.

“We will have to examine the reasons behind comparatively low voting percentage in Gauhati East constituency,” he said.

“One of the reasons for the low turnout could be that there is a large number of people in the city who are not permanent residents and live in rented houses. Many of them have their names registered on the voter list here as well as at their native places and during election they go to their native places to cast their votes,” Phookan said.

He said the Election Commission had taken a host of measures to create voters’ awareness such as setting up of hoardings across the city with illustrations and messages urging voters to cast their votes and engaging singer Angaraag Mahanta (Papon) and actress Nishita Goswami as brand ambassadors, among others.