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Low Gandhinagar turnout worries BJP

By BS Political Bureau
Last updated on: May 04, 2004 19:28 IST
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Just 39.17 per cent of the voters came out to vote in the Gandhinagar constituency, against a statewide average of 45.16 per cent in Gujarat, a surprisingly low turnout against a national average of 57.92 per cent in the 20 April (first phase) of the general election.

Data generated by the Election Commission indicates that in Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani's constituency, Gandhinagar, the turnout was just 39.71 per cent.

Sources in the BJP said that the party was still analysing results, but indicated that in some areas 'like Shah Alam the turnout was around 18 per cent'. Shah Alam is a predominantly Muslim locality.

While it is possible that Muslims stayed away from the election, why the Hindus did not come to vote is a mystery.

The average turnout in a constituency like Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir, where people voted in the shadow of the gun was virtually on a par with Gandhinagar -- 35.93 per cent.

In Karnataka, parts of which went to the polls in the first phase, the turnout was traditionally high -- 61.7 per cent. In neighbouring Maharashtra, also, the turnout was over 54 per cent. Therefore the BJP is at a loss to explain why so few people came out to vote in Gujarat.

In fact, the turnout in Gujarat is among the lowest in all the elections held so far -- northeastern states like Manipur have witnessed more than 70 per cent turnout along with Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

In Orissa the average turnout over the two phases has been an average of 68 per cent. The average turnout in the first phase of elections in UP approximated Gujarat at 47.07 per cent.

Political leaders attribute this to the urbanisation effect and the heat. Comparative figures for the 1999 general elections were not readily available.

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BS Political Bureau