Lok Sabha elections 2019 – 2nd Phase: 66% voter turnout, but does it augur ill for PM Narendra Modi?

New Delhi: A reasonably good 66% per cent turnout was witnessed in 95 Lok Sabha seats in 12 states and the Union Territory of Puducherry on Thursday. The 95 seats included all of Tamil Nadu and half of Karnataka. A high voter turnout is construed as a sign of anti-incumbency — at least that is the conventional wisdom. The reasoning is that anti-incumbency, which usually translates into anger among voters, draws more people to the booths.

However, the converse can be true and a high voter turnout could also be a sign of a strong pro-incumbency sentiment; that is, when voters come out in large numbers to voice their support for a personality-based leadership.  However, decoding the trend would be a very challenging exercise in the 10 seats in Maharashtra, where the turnout was 62 per cent, as against 62.64 per cent in 2014.

“After the first two rounds of voting, the upsurge is in favour of PM Modi and the NDA, this is clearly evident,” Arun Jaitley tweeted. He also said that North East, Bengal and Odisha will be the “biggest surprises.” PM Modi, exuding confidence, said in Kerala, “The faith and affection towards the BJP and me has only increased over time.’’ He also said these elections will determine whether India will make rules or just follow them.

The second phase of the staggered battle was marred by stray violence in West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir and EVM glitches in seven states, including Assam, Maharashtra and Karnataka. In Tamil Nadu, as many as 384 faulty Electronic Voting machines and 692 faulty Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail machines were replaced, officers of the state election commission said.

Puducherry saw a high voter turnout of 78 per cent while in Manipur, the polling percentage was nearly 75 %. Srinagar, which in 2014 witnessed the lowest voter turnout at 25.86 per cent, saw 13.43 per cent per cent polling, with the highest, 17.1 per cent, being recorded in Shia-dominated Budgam. No votes were cast in 90 booths of Srinagar. No untoward incident was, however, reported despite a boycott call by separatists. Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency recorded 58.13 percent polling.

The three constituencies of West Bengal that went to polls saw a turnout of 76.07 per cent. There were, however, sporadic clashes in Bengal and Tripura. In both places, candidates came under attack and voters clashed with the police, alleging that they were not allowed to vote.

Stones were thrown at the car of CPM candidate Mohammad Salim, as he was on way to cast his vote in Raigunj constituency. Unfazed by the summer heat and dust, voters turned out in large numbers in Karnataka. There was over 61.84 per cent polling in 14 of the state’s 28 parliamentary constituencies. It was 68.68 per cent in 2014. The three constituencies of Bengaluru recorded the lowest voting percentage.

Likewise, 62 per cent polling was recorded in Tamil Nadu. After initial dull moments, the voting picked up dramatically in Odisha, which is electing five Lok Sabha and 35 Assembly members, to touch around 64 per cent. In Bihar, over 62 per cent voting was reported in five seats that went to polls. Uttar Pradesh’s voting percentage was 62.3 per cent in all eight constituencies: Mathura, Hathras, Amroha, Agra, Fatehpur- Sikri, Aligarh, Nagina, Bulandshahr.

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