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As Congress and BJP Claim High Voter Turnout in Their Favour, Women’s Vote Will Decide the Winner

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Both the Congress and the BJP have claimed the rise in voter turnout, which touched a record 75.05% in this assembly election, to be a tide in their favour.

While Congress has claimed the upper hand based on the higher turnout in rural areas, where it is considered to be on a stronger wicket, compared to the urban areas.

The BJP supporters on the other hand are attributing the high voter turnout as a result of a successful voter mobilization campaign of the RSS.

In 2013 too, BJP supporters claim, voter turnout increased in the same measure and the party came to power with a sweeping majority.
If there indeed is a key to understanding the phenomenon, it may be in tracking the remarkable increase in the turnout of female voters in this election.

According to data provided by the Election Commission the participation of female voters in this election rose by 3.75%. This number will seem noteworthy keeping two facts about MP in mind –

1. Madhya Pradesh has the most skewed Sex Ratio of Voters (SRV) – 771; where turnout of female voters has consistently gone down since 1990.

2. The number of female voters in Madhya Pradesh has consistently been falling since 1990.

There are over 50 seats in which more women have voted than men. In several constituencies the rise in percentage terms of female voters is between 10 and 12 %. In 116 constituencies the average rise in female voter turnout is over 4%.

Although this may be comparing apples to oranges, but in the last big elections that the state saw – the 2014 Lok Sabha polls – 2% more women voted for the Congress than they did for BJP.

Going for the Congress is a large-scale resentment against the BJP because of the sky-high prices of LPG gas cylinders, which are right now going for Rs 1070. The unavailability of cheap gas cylinders and black marketing of the existing stock is likely to undo the benefits of Ujjwala Yojana that has helped BJP to a large extent in other big states like Uttar Pradesh.

But BJP CM’s women friendly image, ‘mama’ as he is called in the state, and as he likes to refer to himself, coupled with his poll sops like free scooties for girl students is likely to get him some traction among female voters as well.

In August this year Chouhan through a mass public outreach – SMSes, WhatsApp messages, phone calls – reached out to over 5 lakh women seeking their blessings on Rakshabandhan and seeking their votes.

In Sehore, Chhindwara, Neemuch, Agar Malwa and Rajgarh, over 82% female voters turned up on the Election Day. Trends on 11th morning could help understand a larger pattern among female voters across the state.

| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta





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