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

August 22 to be observed as Apostasy Day: International coalition of ex-Muslim groups

By Our Representative
In a unique move, an international coalition of ex-Muslim organisations has decided to observe August 22, 2020 as the Apostasy Day. To be observed for “the abandonment or renunciation of religion”, the coalition, calling upon people to join the call, said, the decision to observe the Apostasy Day has been taken because of apostasy is “punishable by death in Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, UAE, and Yemen.”

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

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".

RSS' 25,000 Shishu Mandirs 'follow' factory school model of Christian missionaries

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The executive committee of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) recently decided to drop the KISS University in Odisha as the co-host of the World Anthropology Congress-2023. The decision is driven by the argument that KISS University is a factory school.

India must recognise: 4,085 km Himalayan borders are with Tibet, not China

By Tenzin Tsundue, Sandeep Pandey*
There has as been a cancerous wound around India’s Himalayan neck ever since India's humiliating defeat during the Chinese invasion of India in 1962. The recent Galwan Valley massacre has only added salt to the wound. It has come to this because, when China invaded the neighbouring country Tibet in 1950, India was in high romance with the newly-established communist regime under Mao Zedong after a bloody revolution.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur*
Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Time to give Covid burial, not suspend, World Bank's 'flawed' Doing Business ranking

By Maju Varghese*
On August 27, the World Bank came out with a statement suspending the Doing Business Report. The statement said that a number of irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019. The changes in the data were inconsistent with the Doing Business methodology.

Delhi riots: Cops summoning, grilling, intimidating young to give 'false' evidence

Counterview Desk
More than 440 concerned citizens have supported the statement issued by well-known bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander ‘We will not be silenced’ which said that the communal riots in Delhi in February 2020 have not been caused by any conspiracy, as alleged by the Delhi Police, but by “hate speech and provocative statements made by a number of political leaders of the ruling party.”

WHO chief ignores India, cites Pak as one of 7 top examples in fight against Covid-19

By Our Representative
In a move that would cause consternation in India’s top policy makers in the Modi government, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, has singled out Pakistan among seven countries that have set “examples” in investing in a healthier and safer future in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tata Mundra: NGOs worry as US court rules World Bank can't be sued for 'damages'

By Kate Fried, Mir Jalal*
On August 24 evening, a federal court ruled that the World Bank Group cannot be sued for any damage caused by its lending, despite last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the same case that these institutions can be sued for their “commercial activity” in the United States.