Low urban turnout in the recent elections reflects disenchantment of city dwellers with political system
After a high decibel campaign in three states of Gujarat, Himachal, and Delhi, it was a damp squib response by the voters, especially in urban areas. Not many came out to vote, especially in the urban areas where the voter turnout was abysmally low. Even the election commission acknowledges the fact that despite so many efforts the voter’s interest in the elections was rather low. In Shimla, the turnout was dismal, 10 percentage points lower than Himachal’s average of 75.6%. The trend of lower voter turnout in the urban areas was also seen in Gujarat as well. The urban turnout in the first phase in Gujarat was also lower than in 2017. In Delhi’s local polls, the same trend was visible in the affluent constituencies of Delhi. The voter turnout of voters has decreased since independence. In the 50s, 60s, and 70s, the urban voters were more active than the rural ones but gradually the rural voters took over and the urban voters started keeping away from the polling booths.
Many factors have contributed to the low voter turnout in general and urban voter turnout in particular. The notion that rich people do not care about elections is largely true and this is reflected in the voting pattern in affluent neighborhoods. In villages, voting is largely a group activity and people vote decisively to effect a change or maintain the status quo. Besides, rural elected bodies are more alive in rural areas than urban ones. Besides, the political parties work harder in rural areas. Group mobilisation is difficult in cities where localities are not based on castes or a particular community. Besides, rural voters need political favours more than their urban counterparts as the rural infrastructure is still evolving whereas the urban voters do not need the government services that ardently and take them for granted. However the most worrisome is the general disenchantment of voters with the political system. Perhaps people are tired of hollow promises and antics of politicians who take voters for granted. The paradigm of two India’s is visible in voting pattern also, though there is nothing wrong in high voter turnout in rural areas, and more so on lower-income rural poor. But the disconnect between city middle-classes and elections is still a trend which must be checked as it would mean caring for one at the cost of another.