By Linus Garg
First publised on 2020-02-08 19:32:14
There was an uncharacteristically low voter turnout in the Delhi elections today. Only about 55% of the people cast their votes. What does this mean? Low voter turnout is generally a sign of confidence in the incumbent government whereas the opposite signifies anti-incumbency. When people come out to vote in large numbers, they want to change the government, says conventional wisdom. But is it true for Delhi? And what reference point does one take to analyze this? The 2015 state elections or the 2017 local body elections or the 2019 general elections?
In the 2015 elections, 67.47% of the electorate voted, which was a record then. The AAP swept the elections, getting 67 of the 70 seats. There was a 54% turnout in the 2017 local body elections in which the BJP upset the AAP applecart. The 2019 Lok Sabha elections saw 60.60% of the electorate casting their votes and they gave all 7 seats to the BJP. But the low voter turnout this time means that despite a vitriolic campaign run by the BJP, it has not convinced people in large numbers to come out and vote for it.
The exit polls also confirm this. The poll of all exit polls estimates 50-55 seats for the AAP, 10-15 seats for the BJP and 1-2 seats for the Congress. There is no major swing away from the AAP compared to 2015 elections and while the BJP has gained some percentage points, it seems it is at the cost of the Congress. If the exits polls have captured the voting patterns correctly, it seems the people of Delhi have rewarded Arvind Kejriwal with another term for the good work he has done for them and have rejected the high octane but divisive campaign carried out by the BJP. This time, the BJP tactic of not declaring a candidate for the chief minister's post seems to have misfired big time and they just could not counter his good governance record with their nationalist propaganda. It also proves once again that while Modi gets them the votes in national elections, he does not sway the voters in state elections.