The spike in voting in Punjab came in rural areas while voter turnout in urban areas was lacklustre. This data to me suggests that the Congress is sweeping big time in Punjab.
The unprecedented turnout in the Punjab Assembly elections, the highest in the history of the State, has stunned the political parties here with a guessing game on over the beneficiaries of the high turnout.As the Election Commission tabulated the data from the constituencies on Tuesday, the polling percentage surged to a high of 78.67 per cent, a unique figure which the poll officials too found slightly above their expectation.On the day of polling on Monday, EC had estimated the figure to be 76.63. After the additional details came in, the figure rose by two per cent. What is remarkable this time is the clear urban-rural divide in polling. The percentage was quite high in the rural areas and it reached a high of almost 90 per cent in a couple of segments, the urban centres saw relatively poor turnout. Over 40 constituencies, most of them in rural belts, recorded over 80 per cent polling.While the figure was almost 90 per cent in rural belts like Gur Har Sahai (89.88), Gidderbaha (88.73) and Lambi (87.29) it was around 64 per cent in the five constituencies of Amritsar city with Amritsar (West) recording the lowest at 57.59 per cent. While most of the rural constituencies recorded over 80 per cent votes, the urban polling percentage was at least 12 notches lower.Traditionally, the rural areas of the State have been the forte of the Akali Dal. The land owning Jats, who comprise around 21 per cent of the population but, as per one estimate control almost 70 per cent of the agricultural land, have been the traditional voters of SAD.Not that the Congress does not get votes in the rural areas but its stronghold remains the marginal farmers, landless, Dalits and also the urban population. BJP is primarily an urban-based party and it contests mainly the urban seats, mostly the district headquarters.Akali Dal supporters argue that whenever the poll percentage was high, they along with the BJP formed the government. They cite the examples of the 2007 polls when the figure was slightly more than 75 per cent and 1997 when it was around 69 per cent. When Congress formed the government in the State in 2002, poll percentage was around 65 per cent.In 1992, the Akali Dal had boycotted the elections and the poll percentage was down to 24 and Congress won without contest on most of the seats. Congress supporters rubbish the claim saying the high turnout was due to the “anger of the voters” against the ruling part