The voting pattern in Haryana which went to the polls this past week to elect a 90-member Vidhan Sabha has been intriguing in the absence of any pro-incumbency or anti-incumbency wave in the State, feel political observers here. The State recorded a voter turnout of nearly 73 per cent.

However, a wide variation between the voting patterns in urban and rural areas was noticed. A maximum of 87.25 per cent polling was recorded in Dabwali constituency while the lowest poll percentage of 54.25 was recorded in the Gurgaon constituency. Moreover, low voting was witnessed in urban areas like Panchkula (57.47 per cent) and Faridabad (around 56 per cent). On the other hand, heavy polling was recorded in rural areas like Uchana Kalan (83.3 per cent), Rania (87 per cent), Tohana (82 per cent) and Meham (79 per cent).

According to Haryana-watchers, the heavy polling in rural areas was indicative of fierce and tough contests between the ruling Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal of the Chautala clan. They said the poll verdict to be delivered on Thursday would reveal whether the INLD still retains its hold over the peasantry including Jats who had shifted towards the Congress in the 2005 Assembly elections.

Observers say there was obvious polarisation of votes on caste basis and the non-Jat voters seemed to have stood behind the winning candidate (read, mostly the Congress) contesting against the INLD. “There were hardly any multi-cornered contests; rather the fight was one to one between the Congress and the INLD and at some places among the Congress, the INLD and the Haryana Janhit Congress floated by former Chief Minister Bhajan Lal,’’ they add.

It is being said that one reason for moderate polling in urban areas could be the apathy shown by the voter in the absence of any effective and clear socio-economic agenda pertaining to urban areas from all parties including the Congress.

However, heavy polling is being interpreted by the Congress and the INLD leaders to their advantage. But whatever the outcome of the polls, one thing is clear: this election was not a cakewalk for the Congress even though it still seems to have the edge mainly because of division of votes by the opposition parties, said a political leader on condition of anonymity.

Another seasoned Haryana-watcher said that in the May 2009 Lok Sabha polls the Congress had performed very well in Haryana (winning nine of the ten seats from the State) mainly because of the performance of the United Progressive Alliance regime headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. But in the Assembly polls in view of the heavy turnout and uncertainties even about some Congress stalwarts, it appeared that the five-year Congress regime which harped on development as its unique selling point had not been able to make a significant impact on the urban voters. No wonder the earlier projection of the Congress getting more than 70 out of 90 seats has now been scaled down, say party insiders.

It is being widely talked that a very large number of rebels, particularly those who were denied Congress ticket, caused damage to the party’s prospects in about a dozen constituencies.