Almost 90,000 voters, between 18 and 22 years of age, will be eligible to vote for the first time in each Lok Sabha constituency this year, according to latest data from the Election Commission. This underlines the importance of the young voter — often seen as impatient and aspirational — for all parties.
The elections will see over 1.79 lakh new voters on average in each constituency. Of them, about 24 per cent, or around 43,000, will be first-time voters, in the 18-19 age group. That’s a significant figure, as the winning margin was less than this in 226 Lok Sabha constituencies in the 2009 elections.
If one includes those till the age of 22 who wouldn’t have been eligible to vote in 2009, this number comes to 90,000 people per constituency who will be voting for the first time. Additionally, there will be voters between 22 and 23 who can vote this time, too.
According to the revised electoral roll statistics with the Election Commission, as of January 1 this year, over 42,000 voters between the ages of 18 and 19 were registered on an average in each Lok Sabha constituency.
In six states — Rajasthan (25 seats), Chhattisgarh (11), Madhya Pradesh (29), West Bengal (42), Uttar Pradesh (80) and Assam (14) — which account for 201 Lok Sabha constituencies, the number of voters between 18 and 19 years of age per constituency is higher than the national average.
Around 81.5 crore people are eligible to vote in the 2014 elections, up from the 71.7 crore voters registered in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, a jump of about 13.6 per cent. In overall number terms, around 2.32 crore voters this time will be between 18 and 19, accounting for 24 per cent of the increase. Those between the ages of 18 and 23 are estimated to be 4.87 crore.
The BJP is upbeat about these statistics, as they expect new voters to be “unburdened” by political ideologies and to boost the anti-incumbency against the ruling Congress. Some leaders argue that these voters were children — six to ten years old — when the 2002 Gujarat riots happened, a fact which could influence the way they interpret the secular versus communal debate around Narendra Modi.
“The psychology of the young voter is unpolluted. These voters are bound to be more agitated about corruption, price rise and the lack of job opportunities. For them, good governance will be the issue,” says BJP general secretary P Muralidhar Rao, who is in-charge of the party’s Yuva Morcha, adding that the party “from the beginning” has tried to connect with them through various platforms.