NEW DELHI : The 2019 Lok Sabha elections clocked a record turnout of 67.11%, beating the previous turnout of 65.95% notched up in 2014, according to tentative data released by the Election Commission (EC).

This data is for 542 constituencies and does not factor in the turnout for Vellore in Tamil Nadu where polling was cancelled over allegations of abuse of money power. The 2014 turnout, taking Vellore into account, was 66.44%—the highest since independence.

An analysis of the EC’s data shows that at least seven states in northern India clocked a higher turnout than 2014 with Madhya Pradesh being the highest. The turnout in the state increased by 9.59 percentage points from 61.61% to 71.2%.

The steep increase in Madhya Pradesh, a state where the Congress replaced the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after a gap of 15 years in December, could be attributed to the mobilization by the BJP on the ground, according to analysts.

“In Madhya Pradesh, as the BJP lost the assembly election, they began mobilization and a high voter turnout is significant indication of BJP’s gains in the election there. The exit polls have also shown almost a clean sweep for the BJP," said Praveen Rai, a political analyst at the New Delhi-based think tank Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Analysts will watch, when votes are counted on Thursday, if the high turnout in states is linked to the way parties perform.

The turnout also increased in states where the BJP is in a direct contest with Congress. The turnout in Himachal Pradesh rose by 7.07 percentage points, Rajasthan by 2.84 percentage points, and Chhattisgarh by 1.18 percentage points. A marginal increase of under 2 percentage points was recorded in states where the ruling and opposition alliances took on each other, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka.

The 2019 Lok Sabha elections clocked a record turnout of 67.11%, beating the previous turnout of 65.95% notched up in 2014, according to tentative data released by the Election Commission (EC).

This data is for 542 constituencies and does not factor in the turnout for Vellore in Tamil Nadu where polling was cancelled over allegations of abuse of money power. The 2014 turnout, taking Vellore into account, was 66.44%—the highest since independence.

An analysis of the EC’s data shows that at least seven states in northern India clocked a higher turnout than 2014 with Madhya Pradesh being the highest. The turnout in the state increased by 9.59 percentage points from 61.61% to 71.2%.

The steep increase in Madhya Pradesh, a state where the Congress replaced the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after a gap of 15 years in December, could be attributed to the mobilization by the BJP on the ground, according to analysts.

“In Madhya Pradesh, as the BJP lost the assembly election, they began mobilization and a high voter turnout is significant indication of BJP’s gains in the election there. The exit polls have also shown almost a clean sweep for the BJP," said Praveen Rai, a political analyst at the New Delhi-based think tank Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Analysts will watch, when votes are counted on Thursday, if the high turnout in states is linked to the way parties perform.

The turnout also increased in states where the BJP is in a direct contest with Congress. The turnout in Himachal Pradesh rose by 7.07 percentage points, Rajasthan by 2.84 percentage points, and Chhattisgarh by 1.18 percentage points. A marginal increase of under 2 percentage points was recorded in states where the ruling and opposition alliances took on each other, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka.


“The typical trend is that at the constituency level when vote share increases, there is anti-incumbency effect and when it decreases, there is no such effect. The BJP may have changed the game in 2014. Since then the party is said to have worked on its machinery. The increase in turnout seems to be in BJP-ruled seats in rural areas,"said Neelanjan Sircar, assistant professor at Ashoka University.

“The story really is the variation. The key takeaway is that, while we will have to wait for the results to know what it mean, advantage BJP is in the case where the party machinery was better in getting voters out in rural areas and not because these are the areas where rural distress had an effect," he said.

At 29.39%, Jammu and Kashmir recorded the lowest turnout in this election. The decrease, from a turnout of 49.72% in 2014, was the steepest among states and Union territories.

The turnout in the national capital of Delhi also saw a significant drop of 5 percentage points. “A drop in Delhi could be because of the election being held on a Sunday and voters choosing not to step out to vote. However, we cannot talk of the high voter turnout in West Bengal with the same confidence as it can be interpreted in both ways—TMC mobilising their supporters or people coming out to vote against the TMC," Rai added.

Overall, the highest turnout in the ongoing elections was recorded in Lakshadweep at 84.96%.

anuja@livemint.com

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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