Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Low voter turnout in Patna due to urban apathy, feel …

The low turnout of voters in Bihar’s capital Patna during the last phase of Lok Sabha polls on May 19, despite the fact that a massive awareness drive was launched, has left everyone surprised.

The state capital has two Lok Sabha seats, Patna Sahib, a predominantly urban area and Patliputra, comprising mainly of semi-urban and rural areas. While Patna Sahib recorded just 46.34 % turnout against 45.36% in 2014, Patliputra recorded 57.26% turnout. Patliputra recorded 56.38% turnout in 2014.

The voter turnout at Patna Sahib was the lowest in the seven phase elections in Bihar. Aurangabad, where the elections were held in first phase, was second as far as low turnout was concerned. It reported with 49.85% voter turnout.

This ‘urban apathy’ towards voting for the second consecutive elections, despite an all-out effort by district administration is hard to explain. “We made selfie points, built huge rangolis, made 159 polling booths as model or ‘ Sashakt ‘ with all their polling personnel being women. These were tastefully decorated with balloons and background flex boards,” said Patna DM Kumar Ravi.

Besides, 13 booths in Patna Sahib were made eco friendly and named as Vasundhara polling centres where new voters, persons with physical disabilities and elderly voters would be presented sapling of plants as token of gift. “These efforts helped increase by one per cent,” said the DM.

Many blame the apathy towards voting by people residing in urban centres to intense summer. “One possible cause could be the summer temperature,” said a former bureaucrat, who wished not to be quoted. “Moreover, if the contest is intense, the contesting parties tried to mobilise voters, which was not the case in Patna Sahib as many a voter thought it to be one-sided contest,” he added.

Political scientist D M Diwakar of A N Sinha Institute for Social Studies feels that wherever the educated person’s future is not at stake, they don’t take interest in elections. “The voting percentage is always high in rural segments as compared to urban centres as for rural people this is the only occasion to express their feeling on government policies and programmes,” said Diwakar. “They feel empowered because they are prevented from putting forward their points earlier. In comparison, the middle class or the urban people are more empowered and leave it to lower strata to vote,” he added.

Incidentally, the two districts, Patna and Aurangabad, which recorded poor turnout, have one of the highest literacy rates in Bihar, 84.07 and 86.89 (as per 2011 census data) respectively.

“This low turnout is discouraging for democracy. Despite all measures by administration, Patnaites failed to come out and it presents a negative picture of Patna town,” said Pradeep Jain, president Jain Sangh and philately expert.

First Published:
May 22, 2019 15:24 IST

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