Friday, Dec 02, 2022

Bengal Assembly Polls: First 2 Phase Polling Rate At 85.35% Higher Than 2016, 2011 Trends

Bengal Assembly Polls: First 2 Phase Polling Rate At 85.35% Higher Than 2016, 2011 Trends

Nandigram constituency, which witnessed a battle between TMC chief Mamata Banerjee and BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari, recorded 88.01% polling—the highest polling percentage, so far

An elderly woman shows her finger marked with indelible ink after casting vote during the 2nd phase of West Bengal Assembly elections at Nandigram in East Midnapore. Sandipan Chatterjee/Outlook

The polling rate in Nandigram was relatively lower than other parts of the state that polled on the same day-- April 1, till 3.30 pm, but the final voter turnout data reveals that the polling percentage in Nandigram was among the highest in the state of the 60 seats that have gone to polls in the first two phases.

According to the Election Commission of India’s final data, 88.01% of Nandigram’s voters cast their ballots. The average share for the 30 seats in four district that polled on the same day stood at 86.11%.

On a tense polling day, Nandigram’s polling percentage till 3.30 pm stood at 69.53%, which was lower than the state average (71.07%) and the district average (71.89%) till that time. However, by 5 pm, Nandigram’s poll percentage had crossed 80.

Nandigram’s final polling percentage also stands higher than the state average in the second phase and the average for East Midnapore district.

Of the 60 seats that have gone to the polls so far, the average has been 85.35%. The polling rate for the 16 Assembly seats in East Midnapore district, where Nandigram is located, stood at 86.87%.

The 2016 Assembly elections had witnessed a polling rate of 82.66 % for the 294 Assembly seats. In the watershed 2011 Assembly elections that recorded the fall of the Left regime ruling the state since 1977, West Bengal recorded 84.33 % polling.

Going by the trends of the first two phases, the 2021 elections seem to be witnessing a higher turnout of voters. However, the overall polling rate may decrease marginally as the polls enter the urban areas where voting usually record a lower polling rate, feel political observers.

A higher polling percentage is often considered a hint at a possible anti-incumbency voting.

Of the seats that polled on April 1, several have voted in a higher percentage than Nandigram – they include Salboni (89.47%), Garhbeta (89.23%) and Pingla (89.02%) in West Midnapore district, Chandipur (89.28%) and Nandakumar (89.27%) in East Midnapore and Indus 89.36%, Kotulpur 90% in Bankura district.

Another 31 seats will go to the elections in the third phase on April 6 and another 203 seats in the next five phases till April 29.

Suvendu Adhikari, the BJP candidate against Nandigram’s Trinamool Congress candidate, TMC supremo and chief minister Mamata Banerjee, has expressed satisfaction over high polling rates. “Many Hindu-dominated booths have polled 90-95%. The ‘Begum’ defeat is certain,” he said.

Adhikari has been referring to Banerjee as Begum in an evident attempt to accuse her of appeasing Muslims.

Banerjee’s chief election agent in Nandigram, Sheikh Sufiyan, too, expressed satisfaction over the polling rate.

“It’s about Nandigram’s usual polling rate. Suvendu is living in a fantasy world and that’s why he believes Hindus have all voted for him,” Sufiyan said.

In the 2016 Assembly elections, Nandigram recorded 86.93% polling. But it 2011, the seat recorded 88.35% polling.