Skip to main content

Will BJP maintain its advantage over first-time voters? Congress keeps fingers crossed

By Mahesh Trivedi*
Polling in five of the seven phases in India’s crucial general elections has been wound up, yet political parties still don’t have the foggiest idea whether young voters, who form two-thirds of India’s 1.3-billion population, will tilt the scales in their favour. In each of the 543 parliamentary constituencies has a significant 10 to 15 per cent electors aged under 35 years who have the power to swing the vote in any direction.
A record number of 84 million new voters registered on the rolls include an astounding 15 million bubblegum rockers in the 18-19 age group who, thanks to smartphones, have become politically aware but are as unpredictable as the weather. It is these Y-people, who have been keeping their cards close to their chest.
Congress, the leading opposition party, for instance, isn’t sure which way these voters will vote. A senior Congress leader, talking with this correspondent, admitted that during the last Lok Sabha polls in 2014, about 23 million of the nearly 820 million voters had cast their vote for the first time.
“Some 39 per cent of first-time voters are believed to have cast their ballots in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), while our party managed to get just 19 per cent of the support of new voters,” he added.
In other words, while the BJP had significant advantage among the first-time voters, the other parties, with a combined vote share of 50 per cent, could obtain only 42 per cent votes from the first-timers, with, of course, parties like Aam Aadmi Party, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party bagging more support from the young voters.
With the 2019 ballotbox battle being seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is seeking a second term, the shrewd strategist has attempted to rouse nationalist fervour by exhorting young voters to ‘dedicate’ their votes to the armed forces involved in the Balakot air strikes, possibly to combat the youths’ growing anger over job crisis now at its worst -- unemployment rate zoomed to 7.6 per cent in April–under his government.
But the Generation X citizen is no babe in the woods. As KH Patel, former Indian ambassador to African countries pointed out, the yuppies and yumpies are ambitious and impatient for change, giving a thumbs-down to issues such as caste and religion unlike their elders and are more concerned about education, pollution, job opportunities and women’s safety.
As a recent comprehensive survey by Inshorts, a no-nonsense news app, revealed, an overwhelming 85% of young men and women think that voting should be compulsory, and recognise the importance of voting and want to exercise their rights as citizens of a democratic country.
“This could be due to the fact that there has been a general increase in political awareness over the last few years. Youth, especially, are able to engage with political issues through mediums such as social media and online forums,” explains Azhar Iqbal, CEO of Inshorts.
However, many millennials working or studying abroad or out of town or living away from their home states have doubts about the authenticity of the electronic voting machines and do not travel back to their homes to exercise their franchise.
As Iqbal suggested, one of the ways that this could have been solved was through the introduction of a digital system that allowed Indian youth to vote away from their hometowns. “Since many young voters are already adept at using the internet, a digital voting system might be more convenient and effective in getting the youth population to vote,” opines the Inshorts CEO.
But BJP youth wing president Poona Mahajan claims that farmers, women and youth are voting for the saffron party as they believe in the decisive leadership of Narendra Modi. “People say there was a Modi wave in 2014. It’s a tsunami this time, which will destroy all Opposition,” she says as polling for 169 of 543 seats is still to be held in three more phases till May 19 with results expected on May 23.
---
*Senior Gujarat-based journalist. A version of this article was first published in Doha Globe

Comments

TRENDING

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Attack on Gaza: Western media 'went out of the way' to obscure, protect perpetrators

By Sonali Kolhatkar*  Israeli forces killed more than a hundred Palestinians and wounded more than 700 on February 29, 2024 during a distribution of food aid in Gaza city, pushing the Palestinian death toll to 30,000 since October 7, 2023. The food aid massacre was straightforward in its deadliness as armed Israeli forces aimed weapons at desperate, hungry Palestinian civilians and killed many of them. It was also plausible within the context of who has firepower and who doesn’t, and wholly consistent with Israeli atrocities, especially those committed since October 7, 2023.

Living standards in 'model' Gujarat worse than major states: Govt of India document

By Rajiv Shah  Amidst raging controversy over whether the latest Government of India’s “Household Consumption Expenditure Survey 2022-23 Fact Sheet: August 2022-July 2023” suggests that India’s poverty levels are actually down to 4.5 to 5%  during the decade-long Narendra Modi rule, a state-wise breakup in the 27-page document shows that “model” Gujarat’s average consumption expenditure is far below most of the so-called developed states.

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Not livable in summer, Chitrakut PM-Awas houses 'push' tribals in moneylender trap

By Bharat Dogra*  Those who are in-charge of implementing the PM-Awas scheme of rural housing can rightly take pride in what has been achieved in Dafai hamlet (Karvi block, Chitrakut district, Uttar Pradesh). All the Kol tribal families here are extremely poor and vulnerable. In a rare achievement, almost all of them have received housing assistance under PM Awas. 

Stressing on standardisation, efficiency, capitalists 'intensify' workers' exploitation

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The productivist ideology lies at the core of the profit-making pyramid of capitalism. It perpetuates a relentless cycle characterized by busy schedules, workplace tension, an imbalance in work-life equilibrium, and a pervasive sense of alienation. 

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Development? This tribal hamlet in Chitrakut has no toilets, no electricity connections yet

By Bharat Dogra*  As we moved away from the starting point of the Bundelkhand Expressway and a famous pilgrimage site into a side-road, the hills of Chitrakut here appeared to be more and more isolated. Another turn, and we appeared to have reached almost a dead-end. However it is here that over 80 households of the Kol tribal community have been living for a long time.

WTO 'loses legitimacy': CSOs shut out of normal participation in MC13 at Abu Dhabi

By Deborah James  Given unprecedented repression of participants, the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) at Abu Dhabi should not continue until historical and international standards and human rights for participation in global governance are restored.