Modi ki hawa ya Gehlot ki dava’.
This catch phrase encapsulates the mood of Rajasthan which registered a historic voter turnout on Sunday. While some BJP supporters are attributing the sharp rise (9%) in voting percentage (75.20%) to Modi wave, Congress supporters, on the other hand, say it’s courtesy the people-friendly schemes floated by the Gehlot government.
As per the Election Department, these figures crossed the previous best record of 67.18% in 2003 (in 2008 the voter turnout was 66.41% in the state). In 2003, when BJP was voted to power there was 4.5 per cent jump of votes and the voting had picked up towards the afternoon.
However, in such ‘politically correct’ sounding discussions one cannot negate the efforts of the Election Department, which apart from conducting free and fair polls across the state, managed to bring out voters to polling stations. The result was spectacular.
Election Department’s efforts
The massive turnout is clearly indicative of the fact that the Election Department was successful in motivating voters across Rajasthan. ED’s efforts to encourage voters by holding activities under SVEEP, collaborating with educational institutes, where students got their parents to sign pledges saying ‘I will vote’ paid off. In many homes, children repeatedly questioned their parents and grandparents if they had received their voter slips and when would they step out to cast their votes.
Initiatives like motorcycle rallies, motivating slogans on social media websites and ads through conventional media also helped. Polling started on a strong note in most parts of the state and before noon many constituencies had registered 35% to 40% turnout.
Voters’ day out on Sunday
Polling day being a Sunday may have also helped create history. In 2008, polling was held on December 4 — a Thursday. “Unlike last time  when we were among the early voters, we came in the afternoon as it was a Sunday,” said mines secretary Sudhansh Pant who had came with his wife to vote. The administration was also able to motivate those reluctant voters, who earlier used to take polling day as a holiday, to come out and vote and then proceed to enjoy with their family and friends.
‘Youth chala booth’
One shouldn’t forget that youngsters played a vital role in this record turnout. Youngsters, including first-time voters, constitute 55 per cent of the electorate in the state and their enthusiasm was for all to see. Facebook was flooded with selfies of GenNext happily flaunting their inked fingers. No doubt the ED had managed to catch the pulse of the youth.
Record turnout of women voters, who till recently preferred to stay home, was also instrumental as more women cast votes in certain pockets than men!
Efforts of district collectors to make people realise that casting their vote is a need, a right and a matter of pride, paid off in the end. And, this change in the laid-back attitude of the common man brought about all the difference in the voter turnout in Rajasthan.