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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Highest voting turnout in last 6 assembly elections in Himachal; Whom will it favour?

Himachal has been registering increased voting percentages since 2007 which have coincided with a change of government  every 5 years. Psephologists have drawn different analysis from voting patterns  with most agreeing that an increase in voting percentages is an indicator of a change of guard or a change of governments. 

The general belief is that people come out to vote in large numbers to show their  resentment for an incumbent government or their readiness to install a new government. 

Himachal, which went  to the polls on November 12, has a 37 year old record of voting incumbent governments out.

Himachal  has been voting out governments every 5 years since 1985 but a look at the voting percentage since 2007 reveals that the himachal electorate has voted higher than the previous elections to vote a government out. 

Thus, in 2007 the voting percentage was 71.6%, in 2012 it was 73.4% and in 2017 it was 75.57% and each time the incumbent  government was shown the door by the people of Himachal.

In the just concluded assembly elections on 12th November the state recorded a record 75.6% turnout including 1% postal ballots and with 2% ballots still to received the turnout  is set to cross 77%. 

This is the highest voting turnout  in the past 6 elections according to Moneesh Garg the Chief Election officer and going by the past trends it could lead to a change of government in the state as has been happening  in the past though the ruling party would like to believe that the  increased voting turnout will favour it. 

An important  statistic which cannot be ignored is that in 2017 when the Congress  got just 21 seats its vote share was 41.7% which was just 1.1% lower than its 2012 vote share of 42.81% when it got 36 seats to form the government.  

Thus the Congress managed to retain its vote share slipping by just 1% even though its seats tally came down to 21. In this election if the Congress surpasses its 2012 vote share of 42.81% then its tally of seats could safely cross the 34 seats required for a simple majority. 

The BJP had a vote share of 48.8% in the last election which was 10% more than its 2012 vote percentage of 38.47%. This 10% jump in it’s vote share helped it get 18 more seats in 2017 as compared  to 2012. 

While the Congress managed  to hold on to its vote percentage in the last 2 elections the BJP  has seen  a drastic swing in its vote percentage in the last 2 elections and even before. 

The rebels are likely to make a dent in the BJP’s vote percentage which will hurt its chances more of retaining power in the State. On the other hand if the Congress  is able to increase its vote share by even 1% or more as compared  to the last election (41.7%) it stands a very good chance of forming the government.

Another factor is the women voter which unnumbered men by almost 4.5% in voting and their franchise will have a decisive impact on the election results. Both the parties have gone all out to woe the women voter with the Congress promising 1500 rupees in every woman’s account and the BJP promising 33% reservations for women in government jobs and 3 free LPG cylinders to poor women in one year. Nari Shakti could well decide the fate of this election and the parties. 

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Aman Gupta
Aman Gupta
Political Editor, Samast Bharat magazine

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