Punjab breaks records, records 77% voter turnout

Punjab breaks records, records 77% voter turnout
Punjab broke all past records to clock its maximum voter turnout ever: 76.63%.
CHANDIGARH: Punjab broke all past records to clock its maximum voter turnout ever: 76.63%. A high turnout is traditionally seen as a sign of anti-incumbency , more so in Punjab which has never returned any party to power since 1966. Voting in the state in assembly elections has never dipped below 64%.

In 2007, the turnout was 75.45%. A similar voter gusto was evident in 2009 Lok Sabha elections when the state polled more than the national average with 58%, sending more Congress MPs than Akalis to Parliament.

Like earlier, this time, too, villages and towns queued up in huge numbers. Urban areas saw a rise in voting as well, largely due to the anti-corruption wave sweeping the country and EC's drive to register new voters. With anti-incumbency being the norm in Punjab since the '60s, this time, too, it's likely to give sleepless nights to the Badal family until the results on March 6.

In 10 polls since 1967, Punjab has scored over 64%, with just one exception in 1992 when polling dipped to 24 % because of militancy. The parties, however, are interpreting the turnout to suit their own assessments. Effectively , both the contenders for power, Congress and SAD-BJP , are claiming victory.

"The higher the turnout, the greater the anti-incumbency," said Congress's CM candidate Amarinder Singh. But SAD boss Sukhbir Badal countered, "This is pro-incumbency. People want development that we have started to continue." There was a phenomenal turnout in the remote border constituency of Guruharsahay, which clocked 90%. Amritsar West (reserved) polled the lowest with 56%. Muktsar, which has two high voltage constituencies in Lambi and Gidderbaha, recorded a maximum of 82%: Lambi has CM Parkash Singh Badal possibly fighting his last electoral battle whereas Gidderbaha will decide the fate of his estranged nephew Manpreet.

It has turned out to be a mini Kurukshetra with the 84-year-old patriarch of the Akalis bled by two of his own: younger brother Gurdas fighting him on a PPP ticket and cousin Maheshinder taking on him as Congress candidate.