Home Editorials Somewhat Surprising

Somewhat Surprising


Around three to four percent less polling, overall – as compared to earlier – in the first phase of the UP assembly elections held in the ‘Jat belt’, is puzzling, considering the largely held opinion that there is strong resentment against the BJP government there. Does it mean that the BJP voters did not turn out in the required numbers? Or, that the supposed anger is not strong enough to induce a larger turnout? After all the opinion polls and media coverage indicating a close contest, it cannot be due to ennui on the party of any side’s voters.

One possibility is that voters belonging to parties that have no chance of winning, such as the Congress, instead of choosing some other party, opted not to vote. Anti-incumbency or pro-government waves, as mentioned before, lead to a hike in voting percentages. A drop, on the other hand, usually indicates an acceptance of the status-quo. Usually, incumbent governments are chary of this development because it is mostly their supporters that behave so complacently.

It is not as though the voting percentages are evenly so in the first phase. The low percentage is the average, while certain constituencies have shown a significant rise. These are notably those that have experienced communal polarisation in the past. Does it mean that this polarisation remains a more critical factor than the supposed anger among farmers against the aborted farm laws? This could be the case because there are a number of other factors also influencing public opinion, such as caste equations, as well as the law and order question. To the extent that women can vote independently of family pressure on issues they consider important, the efforts made on their behalf by the Yogi-Modi governments may also have influenced choices.

It would seem, therefore, that already calculations made by politicians and ‘analysts’ may have been significantly off. If that is the case, it is indicative of a further maturity among the voters. A more pragmatic approach may have been adopted instead of being carried away by emotional issues. The truth will become known soon enough, but it does indicate a trend for the coming phases.