Shimla remains infamous for low voting percentage
BY VISHAL GULATI Shimla, May 21 (IANS) While Himachal Pradesh registered 72.25 per cent polling in the recently-concluded general elections, 7.80 per cent higher than the 64.45 percent witnessed in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, voting in Shimla was 64.01 per cent — the lowest among towns in the state.
The all-time high polling record in Shimla (city) till date was recorded in 1982 at 66.01 per cent, said officials.
Poll experts attribute the low poll percentage largely to urban lethargy and presence of floating population, largely government employees. The voter turnout in Shimla (city) was 58 percent in 2014, which means this time it was 6 percent higher than the last Lok Sabha polls.
Seat of power since the days of the British Raj, the democratic process has failed to strike its roots firmly in Shimla with electorate of nearly 50,000. This is despite extensive awareness drives.
In Shimla district, the highest polling percentage at 71.59 and 69.93 was reported from Rampur and Theog towns, respectively.
Poll officials said the highest voter turnout in the elections held on Sunday was 75.88 per cent in Una.
Among the 12 districts, the highest polling was registered in Una district (75.88 per cent) followed by Solan (75.80) and Kullu (75.06) and the lowest was in Lahaul and Spiti (61.79 per cent).
Neeraj Kumar, officer on special duty with the state election department, told IANS that the total voting percentage in Shimla was 63.76 per cent in 2017 Assembly elections, the third highest till date.
He said this time the voter turnout in Shimla was higher by 16.92 per cent than 47.15 per cent in 2007.
In the 2003 Assembly elections, polling percentage was 46.14 per cent, while it was 43.12 per cent in 1998.
The fourth highest turnout was 60.25 per cent in the 1993 Assembly elections. According to election department archives, Shimla saw the highest polling in 1982 (66.01 per cent) and the lowest in 1957 (30.44 per cent) since the first Assembly elections in 1951.
Poll officials attribute voter apathy and dual voter registration for the trend. Shimla has a problem of a floating population part from duplication of names. Most of the people settled here don’t actually belong to this place. On the day of voting, they normally return to their native places. This might be the main reason for low voter turnout, Kumar said.
“The state boasts the highest enrolment of 99.05 per cent,” he added. Parkash Chand, a retired government employee settled in Shimla since 1960, said the town supports a large population of serving and retired employees who prefer to go to their native places rather than participate in the election process.
(Vishal Gulati can be reached at [email protected])