NEW DELHI: Polling in the initial phases of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections have shown a varying trend in urban and rural areas as compared to the 2014 general elections, according to the Election Commission data.
For instance, the data for the second phase of polling on April 18 showed that in Bangalore Central, an urban constituency, voting was down by 1.45 per cent from 55.74 per cent in 2014 to 54.29 per cent in 2019. Similarly, in Bangalore South, polling was down 2.2 per cent from 55.67 per cent in 2014 to 53.47 in 2019.
In Chennai Central, an urban seat in Tamil Nadu, voting was down by 2.67 per cent from 61.36 per cent in 2014 to 58.69 per cent in 2019. In Amravati in Maharashtra, polling was down by 1.87 per cent from 62.23 per cent in 2014 to 60.36 in 2019.
In Amroha in Uttar Pradesh, polling was up by 0.4 per cent from 71 per cent in 2014 to 71.04 per cent this year, while in Bulandshahar, polling was significantly up by 4.43 per cent from 58.3 per cent in 2014 to 62.73 per cent in 2019.
In West Bengal's Darjeeling, polling percentage was down by 1.49 per cent from 80.2 per cent in 2014 to 78.71 per cent this year, while in the Tribal-dominated Bastar in Chhattisgarh, polling percentage was up by 6.77 per cent from 59.2 per cent in 2014 to 66.84 per cent in 2019.
Similarly, the data for the first phase of polling held on April 11 showed that Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh showed a decline in polling by 4.94 per cent from 72.20 per cent in 2014 to 67.26 per cent this year. In contrast, polling was up in the Tirupati seat by 2.48 per cent from 76.6 per cent in 2014 to 79.08 per cent in 2019.
Maharashtra's Nagpur seat showed polling was down by 2.31 per cent from 57.05 per cent in 2014 to 54.74 per cent in 2019.
In Odisha's backward Kalahandi seat, polling was up by 0.27 per cent from 75.7 per cent in 2014 to 75.97 per cent this year.
In Uttarakhand's Haridwar, an urban area, voting was down by 2.71 per cent from 71.63 per cent in 2014 to 68.92 per cent in 2019.
Traditionally, the rural voting percentages have been better than the urban areas as the villagers feel they have more stakes in the country's democracy, while the city electorate exhibit a certain level of apathy with the political process.
Badri Narayan, who works with the GB Pant Institute of Social Sciences in Allahabad, said: "The urban areas will vote better this time and the electorate will favour the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)."
Nisar-ul-Haque, former professor of political science at the Jamia Milia Islamia University in Delhi, too felt that the BJP had an edge in the urban areas, but pointed out that the saffron party's campaign built around national security was finding favour in the villages as well.
"Voters in the urban areas are supporting the BJP's view on the Pulwama terror attack and the government's air strike at terror camps across the border. While the urban areas have always supported the BJP, the party is also getting some share of votes in the rural areas," said Haque.
This could be attributed to the fact that the BJP this time tried to make inroads into the rural areas and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), too was active on the ground mobilising support for the ongoing polls.
Other than the BJP, Haque said that rural voters were getting divided between the Congress and the BSP-SP alliance in Uttar Pradesh and the RJD-RLSP-Congress alliance in Bihar. In 2014, the BJP had done well in the two states, which sent 120 party MPs to the Lok Sabha.
However, political commentator Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay said that it was difficult to point out any urban versus rural vote pattern, as there were issues on both sides. "If you see, economic issues affect both the city and village populations," he said.