Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Voter Turnout Decline in Western Uttar Pradesh Raises Concerns

Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Voter Turnout Decline in Western Uttar Pradesh Raises Concerns

The voting encompassed Saharanpur, Kairana, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Nagina, Moradabad, Rampur and Pilibhit on Friday.

BISWAJEET BANERJEEUpdated: Sunday, April 21, 2024, 09:17 AM IST
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The conclusion of the first phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh was marked by peaceful proceedings. However, the western region, renowned for its historically robust voter engagement, witnessed a discernible decline in turnout across eight constituencies compared to the 2019 election. This has raised questions about whether the drop can be attributed to the absence of emotive issues or the sweltering summer weather fostering voter apathy.

The voting encompassed Saharanpur, Kairana, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Nagina, Moradabad, Rampur and Pilibhit on Friday. Various social scientists have proffered explanations for this downturn in voter participation. Rahul Verma, Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, noted in his article.

‘No wave in sight, big surprises are unlikely in offing’, that while Modi enjoys significant popularity in public opinion polls, there lacks a sweeping pro-incumbency sentiment beyond the core base. He highlighted that the proportion of respondents favouring another chance for the government was lower than the PM’s popularity rating and the NDA’s projected vote share.

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Nomita P Kumar from the Giri Institute of Development Studies underscored the historical trend of high voter turnout in western Uttar Pradesh. However, she pointed out that the 2019 election was marked by the emotional resonance of the Balakot strike, which galvanised national spirit and voter engagement. This time around, she observed, the election campaign lacks such emotive triggers.

MANDIR ISSUE?

The Ram Temple issue also failed to mobilise voters, she remarked, attributing the decreased turnout to local concerns such as candidate selection, dissatisfaction with certain parties, and perhaps even the oppressive heat. The most significant decline in turnout was observed in Rampur and Muzaffarnagar, followed by Bijnor.

THE FALL

In Muzaffarnagar, the turnout fell from 68.2 per cent in 2019 to 59.29 per cent this year, noted an Election Commission report, highlighting an 8.91 per cent decline. In Muzaffarnagar, a direct contest unfolded between BJP candidate Dr Sanjeev Balyan and SP candidate Harendra Malik, with BSP candidate Dara Singh Prajapati potentially influencing the electoral outcome. The decrease in voter turnout from 2019 to 2024 marked a substantial decline of 8.91 per cent.

DISSATISFACTION FACTOR

Dissatisfaction among Kshatriya voters in Charthawal and Sardhana assembly constituencies appeared to be a significant factor. The Chaubisi community in the Sardhana assembly constituency experienced internal divisions, leading to fragmentation in villages where the BJP

bullah Nadvi. The low percentage of votes is a clear indication that supporters of Azam Khan did not come out to vote, said Ashraf Jameel, a local journalist, about the impact of candidate selection on voter mobilisation. Moradabad witnessed a direct contest between BJP candidate Sarvesh Singh and SP candidate Ruchi Veera, with BSP’s performance likely to sway election results. Pilibhit, which witnessed a direct contest between BJP's Jitin Prasad and SP’s Bhagwat Saran Gangwar, also registered a decline in vote share by over 5 per cent.

SAHARANPUR, GLIMMER OF HOPE

Despite the overall decrease in turnout compared to 2019, Saharanpur continued to witness substantial voter participation. This could be attributed to a direct fight between BJP candidate Raghav Lakhanpal and Congress candidate Imran Masood, with Hindu-Muslim polarisation exerting its influence on polling. In Kairana, where BJP’s Pradeep Chaudhary and SP’s Iqra Hasan locked horns, the impact of Kshatriyas’ displeasure was evident. BSP’s Shripal Rana could influence the poll outcome.

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