Odisha polls 2019: 73.76% turnout in phase – I, a slice lower than 2014

Earlier, higher turnout in Odisha hints at high anti-incumbency. But the 2014 polls defied the trend. The rider here is there was no credible alternative to ruling BJD then

Bhubaneswar: With the final numbers being out, the voter turnout in the first phase of 2019 polls in Odisha was a slice less than the 2014 turnout.

According to the data released by Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Surendra Kumar, the four Lok Sabha and 28 assembly constituencies that went to poll on Thursday recorded a voter turnout of around 73.76 per cent against 74 per cent in 2014.

As per the constituency wise details, a poll turnout of around 75.82 per cent was recorded in Kalahandi Lok Sabha constituency.  The poll turnout is only a little higher than 75.72 per cent in 2014.  The constituency had recorded a poll turnout rate of mere 68.8 per cent in 2009. The data reveals that voting turnout pattern in Kalahandi has not shown any wide discrepancy in 2019. The high stakes battle in constituency was among Basanta Panda (BJP), Bhakta Das (Congress) and Pushpendra Singhdeo (BJD).

Similarly, Nabarangapur LS constituency witnessed a poll percentage of around 78.89 per cent in 2019. The constituency witnessed almost the same polling percentage in 2014, but higher than 64 per cent in 2009. The voting pattern suggests that the contest will be down to the wire this time too.

The constituency witnessed a triangular fight among sitting MP and BJP candidate Balabhadra Majhi, who won in 2014 from BJD ticket, Congress strongman Pradeep Majhi and BJD’s Ramesh Majhi

Koraput had recorded a poll turnout of around 74.77 per cent in 2019, which in stark contrast is much higher than the poll turnout of around 64.7 per cent in 2014 and 62 per cent in 2009. The higher turnout is a lookout factor following a new twist in the constituency where BJD strongman Jayaram Pangi contested on BJP ticket this time.

The Berhampur Lok Sabha constituency recorded a polling percentage
of around 68 in 2014 and it recorded a lower turnout of 65.57 per cent in 2019. However, the poll turnout was better than a moderate 50.7 per cent in 2009.

The lower turnout in Berhampur vis-a-vis 2014 hints at voters not being happy with the candidates contesting elections.  Low polling happens when voters are either not much enthused about the parties or the candidates.

What the trend suggests? Earlier, higher turnout in Odisha hints at high anti-incumbency. But the 2014 polls defied the trend. The rider here is there was no credible alternative to ruling BJD then. Congress was battling with big scandals at Centre and BJP was party without roots in the State. However, the political vacuum in 2019 no longer exists. PM Modi’s traction on ground is discernible. But prediction will be a big hazard as of now.

The poll factoids: *Kotpad AC witnessed highest poll percentage of 86.83 in 2019 against 81.8 percent in 2014 and 73 per cent in 2009. Kotpad and Nabarangpur polled highest votes in 2014.

*Berhampur Assembly constituency witnessed the lowest turnout of around 56 per cent in 2019. The constituency witnessed lower polling 2004 and 2009. In 2009 the poll percentage was mere 48 per cent. Only 2014 saw a poll turnout of 62 per cent, which in fact was  lowest among the same lot constituencies gone to poll in 2014.