‘Large voter turnout signals decisive verdicts’
New Delhi: Large voter turnout in states that have had Assembly polls so far is a sign of decisive verdict by the electorate and the outcome would have an impact on internal equations of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), say political analysts.
"These are very important elections. The polls in Tamil Nadu are significant for the UPA as the DMK is a pillar of its government at the Centre. It appears the Left will be ousted after nearly three-and-a-half decades in West Bengal," Mahesh Rangarajan, a political analyst, said.
Rangarajan said the high voter turnout was also an indicator of people`s larger engagement with politics. "Whatever they want to say, the message has come through the ballot."
He said the turnout shows that voter apathy among literates in metropolitan areas is not shared by most Indians. "The high turnout reflects vibrancy of political debate and possibly a clear verdict," he said.
Rangarajan said the gap between the ruling Congress and other parties had closed in the last period of Assam polls and the outcome was "much more open now".
He said the Assembly Elections will also be watched for performance of candidates handpicked by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.
The three states that have gone to the hustings witnessed high voter turnout. According to official estimates, Tamil Nadu recorded 78 percent polling, Kerala registered 75.12 percent and Assam polled 76.03 percent votes.
The Assembly polls in West Bengal will be held in six phases between April 18 and May 10. Counting of votes in the states and the Union territory of Puducherry will take place on May 13.
Rangarajan said that of the states going to the polls, dubbed as the biggest test of popularity since the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the outcome in West Bengal is most awaited.
The elections are important for the Congress which is the lead party of the UPA. The Congress is contesting as a junior partner of its allies DMK in Tamil Nadu and Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, which together contribute 37 MPs to the UPA`s kitty.
The Trinamool Congress with 19 MPs is the second biggest party in the UPA followed by the DMK at 18.
Analysts say that performance of the DMK and the Trinamool will affect their bargaining power vis-a-vis the Congress.
They say that the performance of the Congress in Assam, where it is ruling for the past 10 years, and Kerala where it is seeking to dislodge the Left Front government in alliance with its partners, will have an impact on the morale of its workers and the party`s own position within the UPA.
N Bhaskara Rao, chairman, Centre for Media Studies, said that elections had been marked by a high voter turnout and steps taken by the Election Commission to check use of money power and paid news.
He however added that new methods, including cash transfer through ambulances and bank accounts, had been used in Tamil Nadu to influence voters.
DMK leader TKS Elangovan admitted that there had been accusations about use of money power, but said that "propaganda" had been directed against his party.
"The arrests are on both the sides," he said.
Asked if the high turnout indicated that the state`s electorate had voted for change, Elangovan said there was nothing to indicate that voters were angry.
"Wherever our leaders went, there were huge crowds. Our alliance will win 150-160 seats," he said.
Rao said corruption was one of the issues in the polls but not the deciding issue and its impact may be more visible in Tamil Nadu.
"The high turnout is a reflection of deepening of democracy. It is more likely to result in a decisive verdict," he added.
He said that the outcome in West Bengal is crucial in terms of future synergy between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress and the Tamil Nadu verdict in terms of possible political re-alignments.
"It will also show how the DMK had been impacted by the 2G spectrum controversy," he said.
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