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Record low turnout upsets calculations

A Low turnout in the Pune Lok Sabha seat has brought jitters to the main candidates as it’s going to be a tight call — and no one is talking of margins any longer...

Written by Ajay Khape | Pune |
April 24, 2009 12:06:58 am

A Low turnout in the Pune Lok Sabha seat has brought jitters to the main candidates as it’s going to be a tight call — and no one is talking of margins any longer,but hoping for a win. Sitting Congress MP Suresh Kalmadi took on Anil Shirole of the BJP and DS Kulkarni of the BSP,and it’s shaping to be a close finish. The outcome,to a large extent,will also be decided by how the other contenders — Ranjit Shirole of the MNS,Arun Bhatia of People’s Guardian Party and Independent Vikram Bokey — perform.

The Pune seat had seen 47.82 per cent voting in 2004 — a decline from 52.22 per cent in 1999 and 59.60 per cent in 1998. At 40 per cent,this is the lowest-ever polled in the constituency.

The seat has been a Congress bastion; the party having won six out of the last 10 elections. Also,this is the lone seat in Pune district that is being contested by the Congress while the other three have gone to its electoral ally NCP.

“The polling percentage is less than expected,but it is not going to hamper the Congress chances of retaining the seat as there was good response in areas where the party has a stronghold,” said Satish Desai,spokesperson for Kalmadi.

The BJP is unable to gauge the reason for the low turnout. “We have to study the reason for the reduction in voter turnout. But we are confident of winning the seat as polling was good in Kasba Peth,Shivajinagar and Kothrud Assembly segments where the party has strength,” BJP candidate Anil Shirole said.

The BSP,that made what was otherwise a two-party contest interesting,is hopeful of gaining from the low turnout. “The low turnout is due to poor response from the housing societies and high profile localities as the slums continued to dominate in the polling per cent. Clearly,the BSP will gain,” Kulkarni said.

MNS candidate Ranjit Shirole also expressed confidence that he will win the elections despite being a first-timer. “I thoroughly enjoyed the elections and will give justice to the faith shown by voters,” he said.

Arun Bhatia who polled over 60,000 votes last time is candid as he admits that the low turnout will affect his prospects. “If there was at least 55 per cent polling,I would’ve said I had a chance. The election process is not voter-friendly and many voters could not locate their names in the list; there were technical glitches in EVMs also,” he said.

However,many of them privately admitted that the low polling had given rise to some level of uncertainty about the results. This will keep every one guessing till May 16 when the counting will take place and the results are announced. Throughout the day,most candidates visited various polling booths and personally monitored the proceedings.

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