The message in Bengal’s high voter turnout
In the first two phases, Bengal has seen nearly 85% of voters showing up. The trend, political observers and party workers say, is likely to continue through the third and the biggest round of polling today, when bengal’s heartland votes. Bengal had seen a similar high voter turnout in 2006, but the similarity ends there.
In 2006, the Left Front swept the elections. This time, it could justy be the opposite. The high voter turnout in 2006 was largely a result of what some would say scientific rigging — a practice under which the left meticulously maintained lists of such people whose names were on the electoral rolls but they were not there and someone else will cast their ballot. With Left’s influence on the wane and a highly vigilant Election Commission that practice is no longer viable this.
In other words, this many more genuine voters have come out to vote. It is likely that they will be voting for a change. If this indeed is the case then it has serious implications for the strategy the Left has adopted lately. As its new poster boy Gautam Deb has said the party had begun focussing on sympathisers who’s had deserted it. His logic was simple: in the Lok Sabha elections of 2009, the Trinamool-Congress combine got 11 lakhs more votes than the Left Front.
There are 66,000 polling stations in Bengal and if the Left Front tried to win back three to four families in each polling station it would be successful in bridging or reducing the gap and thus prevent Trinamool from sweeping the elections as is the perception now. The high voter turnout, however, negates Deb’s strategy. Because it brings into the fray many more than 11 lakh voters, most of whom might be voting because they want vote against the Left.