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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Glare on low voter turnout compared to general elections in 2014 and 2019 in North Bengal

Sources in EC said Lakshadweep had recorded 83.8 per cent voter turnout in first phase of general election on Friday, followed by Bengal

Saibal Gupta Calcutta Published 21.04.24, 10:16 AM
Polling officials carrying sealed VVPATs and EVMs get into a vehicle after the polling in Alipurduar on Friday

Polling officials carrying sealed VVPATs and EVMs get into a vehicle after the polling in Alipurduar on Friday Reuters

The Cooch Behar, Alipurduars and Jalpaiguri Lok Sabha constituencies together recorded 81.9 per cent polling on Friday, but the voter turnout was low compared to the general elections in 2014 and 2019.

Sources in the Election Commission said Lakshadweep had recorded 83.8 per cent voter turnout in the first phase of the general election on Friday, followed by Bengal.

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The three Bengal seats had registered 84.7 per cent polling in 2019 and 83.6 per cent in 2014.

The drop in the polling percentage has drawn the attention of political and administrative circles as Bengal was a state where people liked to cast their votes — be it in Lok Sabha, Assembly or panchayat elections.

“Huge voter turnout is usually witnessed in panchayats polls when most districts record more than 90 per cent polling. Voters don’t stay back at home during the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in Bengal as they are politically conscious. Now, if voter turnout is decreased in the state by two to three per cent, it is bound to be a topic of discussion,” said a senior government official.

Officials involved in the poll process in the first phase said the absence of migrant labourers and the eradication of bogus voters could have left an impact on the voter turnout.

“Many migrant workers are from Cooch Behar, Murshidabad, Malda and South 24-Parganas districts. In the pre-Covid period, migrant workers used to come to Bengal to cast their votes. Post the pandemic, they stopped coming to the state during the polls. This is one of the main reasons behind the low voter turnout yesterday,” political observer Biswanath Chakraborty said.

Sources said the state government had a record of nearly 40 lakh migrant labourers who had been brought back to Bengal during the pandemic in 2020. The government had taken the initiative to register the migrant labourers on the Karma Sathi portal to extend to them some facilities like skill development.

“About 22 lakh migrant labourers have registered their names on the portal.... But it is not clear how many migrant labourers had come back to cast their votes,” said a source.

A senior official said many migrant labourers had returned home during Eid but a significant number of them went back to their workplace to keep their jobs.

Sources said the EC had pushed the district authorities tokeep the voter list
clean by removing dead, absentee and shifted electors. “.... This could be another reason for low voter turnout,” said a bureaucrat.

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