KOZHIKODE: Is the surge in voter turnout, compared to the previous two Lok Sabha elections in Kozhikode and Vadakara, the sign of strong undercurrents in both the constituencies? While the major fronts - LDF, UDF and the NDA- interpret the higher voter turnout as their respective advantage, it’s clear even the silent voters in Kozhikode and Vadakara have spoken firmly through the ballot this time.
A comparison of the latest voter turnout with the figures of the previous three general elections shows the polling percentage increasing at a steady pace. Though Kozhikode trailed Vadakara by almost five per cent in 2004 and 2009 in terms of voter turnout, the difference came down in 2014 and it narrowed down further in the just-held election.
The winning pattern too shows similarities in both constituencies. In 2004, when low voter turnout of 70.39 and 75.83 were recorded in Kozhikode and Vadakara, respectively, it was advantage LDF. When the polling percentage surged in the subsequent elections, the UDF won in both the constituencies.
The LDF camp attributes the higher voter turnout to its success in mobilising its entire cadre and also Left supporters and sympathisers casting the ballot. The UDF, on the other hand sees it mainly as a reflection of people’s mandate against the outgoing BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre. The UDF and NDA also see the increased turnout as the voters’ anger towards the LDF Government’s ‘mishandling’ of the Sabarimala episode. In Vadakara, both the UDF and the NDA interpret the high polling percentage also to the voters’ resentment at ‘murder politics’ and P Jayarajan’s candidature.
Meanwhile, political analysts attribute a strong-three cornered fight as the reason for the increased turnout. “This election saw one of the strongest campaigns in terms of issues and even neutral voters have been influenced by the three major fronts. Each front has mobilised its supporters to the maximum and even apolitical voters have turned up to cast their votes,” opined K S Pavithran, former head of the Department of Politics, University of Calicut. “However, it is tough to forecast which front will gain the most from the surge in votes as many complex issues are involved,” he added.
In Vadakara, the higher turnout could prove advantageous to the UDF than the LDF. “The LDF may have mobilised its party cadre and supporters like never before in Vadakara. However, majority of the silent voters who flocked to the polling booths this time would have given a mandate against political violence,” Pavithran said.