With the final voter turnout percentage in the 14 constituencies that polled in the sixth and final phase of West Bengal Assembly elections touching a record-high of 85.23 per cent, the Election Commission now has reasons to be proud of its success in pulling out the maximum number of voters to the polling booths, in comparison to the 2006 Assembly and 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
The turnout percentages in 2006 Assembly and 2009 Lok Sabha elections in the 14 constituencies spread over the Maoist-affected districts of Paschim Medinipur, Bankura and Purulia were 82.53 per cent and 76.49 per cent.
The current success is all the more significant as the elections were held in the wake of a poll boycott called by the Maoists.
A similar boycott called by the Maoists ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha elections had witnessed a considerable drop in voter turnout, as evident in the aforementioned figure.
Among the 14 constituencies, Garbeta in Paschim Medinipur district recorded the highest turnout of 93 per cent while Joypur in Purulia district witnessed the lowest turnout at 78.55 per cent.
That the turnout was several notches higher than that in the past two elections is obvious from the fact that even after recording the lowest turnout among 14 constituencies, Joypur's turnout percentage is few points higher than Purulia district's final turnout percentage in the 2006 Assembly elections that stood at 78.47 per cent.
The district had fared poorly in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections with a turnout of only 69.52 per cent.
The Jhargram and Binpur (ST) constituencies in Paschim Medinipur district, too, have shown a comparatively stronger voter turnout with 84.03 per cent and 81.90 per cent respectively.
The turnout figures had stood at an unimpressive 63.99 per cent and 67.42 per cent in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
The Balarampur constituency in Purulia district has sprung another surprise with a turnout of 81.12 per cent in comparison to a mere 62.16 per cent in the parliamentary elections.
The Commission's success story, however, does not stop at the sixth phase alone. A comparative analysis of voter turnout in all the five preceding phases show that the 2011 Assembly elections have emerged victorious among the 2006 Assembly and 2009 Lok Sabha elections in all of them.
Howrah, Bardhaman, Bankura and Kolkata, too, have witnessed a quantum leap in voter turnout in these elections.
The State's Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Gupta attributed the success to massive deployment of security forces that instilled confidence in voters' minds to cast their votes fearlessly, a timely drive to update the electoral rolls and a well-planned publicity campaign.