Lowest ever turnout in Agra civic polls surprises many

Agra May 5 (IANS) Local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders are stunned by the dismally low percentage of votes polled for the Agra Municipal Corporation elections held on Thursday.
“Just 37 per cent turnout this time, which was 45 per cent last time. Our election managers are finding it hard to explain how and why there was such shocking disenchantment with the local elections,” Nandan Shrotriya, a local BJP leader, said.
The voting percentage in Mathura was 40 per cent while in neighbouring Firozabad, it was 50 per cent plus.
“The campaign was well-managed, the issues were clear, the track record of Mayor Navin Jain and his team was generally appreciated in terms of the developmental projects executed. The weather gods were also kind, but yet the voters chose to show apathy and indifference. It is not clear what will be the impact of the low turnout on the final outcome,” said Jugal Kishor, a BJP activist.
The BJP has been in power in the Agra Municipal Corporation since 1989 and has been running its affairs without any major political threat from the opposition parties.
But this time there are signals that Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Lata Balmiki could give the BJP a run for its money.
“We have some information that the Samajwadi Party has transferred its votes to the BSP candidate and that makes the contest a tough one for the BJP, which was brimming with overconfidence,” said Chaturbhuj Tiwari, a political observer.
The Agra Municipal Corporation has 100 corporators. Independent observers hinted that the BJP could be in for a shock this time from the Bahujan Samaj Party which has tacit support from the Congress and the Samajwadi Party.
Even Aam Admi Party’s mayoral candidate, Sunita Diwakar, said that her party stood a good chance of winning a number of seats.
A week before the elections, local BJP leaders had sounded the state party functionaries about the dissidence and anger that was brewing because of ticket distribution.
“Wrong people had been given tickets. This resulted in a large number of rebels entering the fray. To compound the issue further, there were complaints from most booths of faulty electoral lists. Thousands of voters could not vote as their names were missing from the lists,” said Jagan Prasad, a political observer.
Social activist Padmini Iyer said the BJP had disappointed the voters.
“The continued neglect of environmental issues, in particular the sad state of Yamuna, had angered a large number of voters, including BJP supporters, who chose to stay at home,” she said.
The counting of votes will be taken up on May 13.

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