The first phase of polling for 91 Lok Sabha seats and four Legislative Assemblies saw a 3 per cent jump in voter turnout this time round compared to polling in 2014 for the same seats, apparently due to a surge of 7.5 per cent in Jammu & Kashmir, 6.5 per cent in Bastar in Chhattisgarh and 5 per cent in western Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
In registering a 69.43 per cent voter turnout in the first phase of elections on Thursday, up from the 66.44 per cent in 2014, the trend seems to have made up for the sharp 12 per cent fall in turnout in Arunachal Pradesh, which recorded 67.08 per cent voting as against 79.12 five years ago. The overall turnout figure is likely to further go up as some polling parties are yet to return and postal ballots are yet to be counted.
According to the latest polling data shared by the Election Commission, the two Lok Sabha seats of Meghalaya witnessed a 71.41 per cent turnout, second highest since its Statehood in 1972. The highest voter turnout was 74.38 per cent in 1998 in the State.
As per the data, Lakshadweep, which has only one Lok Sabha constituency, recorded the highest turnout — 86.78 per cent — among the 20 States and Union Territories, where polling took place on Thursday.
It was followed by Manipur, West Bengal, Tripura and Nagaland with 84.56 per cent, 83.79 per cent, 83.26 per cent and 83.12 per cent turnout respectively.
Lakshadweep, Manipur, West Bengal, Tripura and Nagaland recorded 86.62 per cent, 79.75 per cent, 82.22 per cent, 84.92 per cent and 87.91 per cent respectively in 2014.
Tripura and Manipur have two Lok Sabha seats each. One each from them went to the polls on Thursday, along with the lone constituency in Nagaland. Two constituencies in West Bengal also went to polls. The lone parliamentary constituency in Mizoram recorded a 71.94 per cent turnout.
According to EC, four Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, eight seats in Uttar Pradesh and six in Uttarakhand recorded a turnout of 53.47 per cent, 63.88 per cent and 59.89 per cent respectively. While Bihar saw a 3 per cent dip (from 56.26 per cent in 2014) and Uttarakhand a 1.78 per cent decline from 61.67 in 2014, UP saw the turnout go up from 58.44 per cent last time registering a 5 per cent increase.
Jammu and Baramulla in Jammu & Kashmir witnessed 57.35 per cent turnout on Thursday compared to 49.72 per cent in 2014, which is an impressive 7.5 per cent increase despite the militants’ boycott call.
Maharashtra’s seven Lok Sabha seats recorded 63.04 per cent voters exercising their franchise and Naxal-affected Bastar Lok Sabha seat in Chhattisgarh recorded 66.04 per cent polling, an increase of 6.72 per cent from the 59.32 per cent in 2014. Maharashtra had recorded 60.32 per cent voters’ turnout in 2014.
As per EC’s data, 64.85 per cent voting was recorded in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 79.74 per cent in Andhra Pradesh, 62.69 per cent in Telangana and 78.23 per cent in Assam. Andaman and Nicobar Islands had recorded 70.67 per cent turnout; 74.64 per cent in Andhra Pradesh and 80.12 per cent in Assam.
In terms of numbers, over 9.13 crore voters exercised their franchise out of the total 13.16 crore voters eligible to vote during the first phase. Among men, the voter turnout was 72.12 per cent and among women, it was 71.93 per cent.
Voting for the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seven phase of the elections will take place on April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19, respectively.
Bihar tops 3rd gender vote
None of the 52 third gender voters cast their ballots for two parliamentary seats of Jammu and Baramulla in J&K on Thursday. In far-off North-Eastern States, the lone third gender voter in Sikkim too did not turn up. Similarly, none of the five in similar category in Mizoram cast their vote.
However, around 18 per cent population of the third gender voted in the 91 parliamentary seats in 18 States and two Union Territories and four States Assembly polls in the first phase of polls on April 11.
Incidentally, it was Bihar where the highest turnout of third gender was recorded. Of the 516 registered third gender voters in the four seats of Bihar, 360 voted making up for 70 per cent of their total population.
The two southern States — Telangana and Andhra Pradesh — witnessed around 17 per cent and 15 per cent of the third gender voters casting their ballot, respectively. In Andhra Pradesh, there are 3,957 third gender voters.
Of them, 665 cast their ballot in the simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha polls in the State. In neighbouring Telangana, of the 1,504 registered third gender voters, 227 exercised their franchise.
According to latest data furnished by the Election Commission (EC), as many as 1,395 third gender or 17.94 per cent of the total population of 7,774 who registered themselves as voters in the electoral rolls cast their vote.
In Uttar Pradesh, only 5.06 per cent third gender cast their ballot as out of the 826 registered as voters, only 42 turned up to cast their ballot in the polls for 8 Lok Sabha seats.
In Odisha, of the 560 voters, only 63 cast their ballot. The voting percentage of third gender was only 11 per cent in the State.
As per the EC data, just 9.74 per cent ( or 15) of the total population of 154 third gender who registered in the electoral rolls in Assam cast their ballot. In Maharashtra also, only 13.16 per cent third gender or only 25 of the total population 190, voted in the first phase of polling on April 11.
The 2011 census put the total transgender population in India at 4,87,203. As per the Election Commission, the registered transgender voters for the 2019 elections is only around 40,000 – just 10 per cent of their total population.
The EC has roped in transgender model Bishesh Huirem to generate awareness among the third gender community ahead of the upcoming general elections. Huirem had represented India at the Miss International Queen in Thailand in 2016. In 2014, the Election Commission, for the first time, categorised transgenders as the “third gender” after a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court. Of the total 28,527 registered transgender voters, only 1,968 had exercised their right to vote in that year’s Lok Sabha elections.
Sunday, 14 April 2019 | Rajesh Kumar | New Delhi