The nine per cent rise in voter turnout in the Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra has raised questions on whether it is a sign of public anger in favour of a regime change.
“It’s a clear sign that people want a change from the Congress-NCP government. Youngsters have come out in large numbers to vote for our prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi,” says State BJP president Devendra Fadnavis.
However, the ruling parties feel the increased turnout will favour them. “Muslims have come out in large numbers to vote for the Congress because they do not want Mr. Modi as the Prime Minister,” said Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.
He said the turnout could also have risen due to deletion of duplicate names from the voter list. Journalist and political commentator Prakash Bal too expressed the possibility of consolidation of minority votes. “I wouldn’t call it a Modi wave looking at the 9% increase in voting,” he said.
However, Dr. Suhas Palshikar who teaches political science at Pune University said it was difficult to judge the impact of the rise in voter turnout. “There is no evidence to show that the increased percentage has always harmed the ruling party,” he said. The higher mobilisation by the BJP and other parties could be one of the reasons for increased voting. He ruled out the possibility of first-time voters being responsible for the increase.