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Understanding Karnataka's incredible voter turnout

May 06, 2013 12:36 IST

Was people’s desire for change the reason behind the high voter turnout in Karnataka?

Not always, says Sandeep Shastry, one of Karnataka’s most renowned psephologists.

Explaining the point to, Shastry said: “A higher voter turn is ‘a’ factor for change, but it is not ‘the’ factor. People do tend to come out and vote in higher numbers in case they are upset with the government and want a change. However, it is not the only factor.”

“Another factor for a high voter turn out is the very intense competition between candidates in a constituency. In such an event there is a likelihood of a very high voter turn out as candidates have been able to marshal support and ensure that people come out and vote in large numbers.”

“A third factor is the division of issues between candidates. When issues are sharply divided and candidates are at two ends of a spectrum of an issue, voters normally turn up in large numbers and express themselves.”

“When we speak about the higher voter turn out in the urban areas, it is more to do with the sensitisation drive. Many awareness drives could have helped increased the voter turn out.”

“At the moment what I analyse is that the Congress has the advantage and may get a thin majority. However, the issue is regarding the second slot and that is most likely to be a very tough fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal-S,” Shastry said.

Other political observers feel that the higher voter turn out is an indicator that the people want change. It is a vote against the status quo in the state administration and they see this as a vote against the BJP instead of a vote in favour of the Congress.

A higher voter turn out would give the advantage to the party which is the next alternative to the ruling party in the state.

State BJP chief Prahlad Joshi, however, refuses to buy this theory.

He says that the higher voter turn out, especially in the urban areas, has helped the BJP.

“There has been a sudden surge of around 5 per cent in the voter turnout and as per our analysis those persons have come out and voted for the BJP,” he said.

However, analysts say that Joshi’s argument is not entirely correct.

It could be an argument that we could buy if the present government has performed exceptionally well, experts said, adding that the people desperately want to see the end of this government.

The BJP may not be able to form the government as the Congress is likely to get a thin majority, they pointed out.

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Vicky Nanjappa