Record voting in Uttarakhand

Dehradun : Bright sunshine, and the consequent let up in the cold conditions, resulted in the highest turnout of voters in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, which recorded nearly 70 percent polling in the state assembly elections Monday.

“Nearly 70 percent of the state’s 63 lakh voters came out to cast their vote,” state chief electoral officer Radha Raturi told reporters.

“The Lok Sabha election in 2007 witnessed a turnout of 62 percent, while it stood at about 59 percent in 2002,” she said.

The weather gods were kind to the voters. In fact, the change in the weather became noticeable since Jan 26, when the first bright sun of the otherwise freezing winter season pierced out of the thick clouds and mist.

“But for improvement in the weather conditions, the voting would not have been as good,” admitted a senior government official.

The otherwise harsh winter had, earlier, become a serious cause of worry for all political parties. Even Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri had openly expressed his fears that this year’s unusually high snowfall would render several hilly areas inaccessible.

While the Election Commission is euphoric about the high turnout, it is seen as a bad signal for ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“Higher the turnout, worse for the BJP,” observed a senior political analyst, who preferred anonymity. “My reading about the people of this state is that they turn out in high numbers to vote essentially against the incumbent regime and there were several good reasons for a high anti-incumbency against the sitting BJP,” he added.

The BJP regime had taken much beating largely on account of the tremendous rise in corruption levels and poor governance during the chief ministership of Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank. While the BJP leadership tried to salvage things by replacing Nishank with a clean Maj Gen (Retd) B.C. Khanduri, it was rather late in the day, said an analyst.

Meanwhile, the Congress party pumped in all its resources and its star campaigners, including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Shiela Dikshit and even Pranab Mukherjee, to assure the people of Uttarakhand that they were capable of providing better governance than the BJP.

Counting of votes is on March 6.

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