Voter turnout moderate for Assembly polls

NEW DELHI: A mammoth exercise of elections in the four states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and the Union Territory of Delhi came to an end with the average voter turnout being estimated to be in he region of 50-53 per cent.

Though the final outcome is sealed in micro-chips that would unravelled by 4 December when the counting process is completed, some exit polls, aired on some TV channels, do indicate that Congress may not be smiling so broadly as before the polls. The reverse side is the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) too may not very happy with the outcome.


 Sporadic violence in some places like Indore notwithstanding, reports from various states indicate that the whole process was by and large peaceful under strict police arrangements. At places like Delhi, the arrangement was so strict that voters were not allowed to carry mobile phones inside. However, security personnel failed to explain the rationale behind such a move, irritating some people, but the diktat was enforced nevertheless.

Initial indications are that out of the Congress party may lose the states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. According to an exit poll, flashed on Zee News as per voting trends in the early afternoon, the Congress was the leader, while in Madhya Pradesh the BJP was leading.

After a sluggish start due to early morning chill, polling in Delhi gathered momentum with an estimated 35 per cent of the electorate casting its ballots till 1500 hrs this afternoon in the assembly elections which has so far been largely peaceful, agencies reported from Delhi.

In its first assembly polls in the newly-created Chattisgarh state, an average 62 per cent of the 13 million voters exercised their franchise by the time the polling came to an end, though sporadic violence by Naxalites continued in a few pockets in the tribal Bastar region of the state, government officials said.

In urban areas like Raipur city in Chattisgarh, polling percentage crossed 50 per cent in the afternoon. Voter turnout was 'very low' in the three Naxalite infested assembly segments Dantewara-ST, Konta-ST and Bijapur-ST in Dantewara district where Naxalites triggered land mine blasts, looted and damaged Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and attacked police personnel at several places in the remote villages.

On last count, trends collated by Zee News and other channels indicated that in Delhi Congress was set to return to power, while Chattisgrah may end up with a hung assembly (meaning no one partry having adequate numbers to form a government on its own). The TV channels also said BJP is set to wrest power from the Congress in Madhya Pradesh.

The outcome of the elections would have a lot of bearing on the policy making process by the government during the remaining part of its five-year tenure as the government and its allies would definitely get into the general election mode as months pass.

Not sweeping the assembly elections would always weigh on the mind of the BJP and its allies in the run-up to the general elections that are scheduled to be held late 2004.

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