Moneycontrol PRO
you are here: HomeNewscoronavirus

Bihar Election 2020 | 'Encouraging' voter turnout amid COVID-19: What it means

Bihar’s voter turnout has decreased from 62.6 percent in 2000 to 56.8 percent in 2015 assembly polls. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections it was 55.38 percent while in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it was 53.54 percent.

November 05, 2020 / 05:16 PM IST
LIVE updates of the Bihar Assembly election result 2020. RJD-led Mahagathbandhan is taking on the BJP-JDU’s NDA alliance

LIVE updates of the Bihar Assembly election result 2020. RJD-led Mahagathbandhan is taking on the BJP-JDU’s NDA alliance

More than 55 percent turnout in the two phases of Bihar assembly elections matches the first two phases of the polls held in 2015.

The turnout would be moderate under normal circumstances. But being held under the the shadow of  COVID-19, it is encouraging, according to the experts and poll officials. They said it indicates that the voters of Bihar masked their fear of the pandemic and stepped out to exercise their franchise in the state which has historically been among the worst in the country in terms of voter turnouts.

“It is an encouraging signal,” Prof Sanjay Kumar of the Centre for the Study of Developing Studies (CSDS) said after the voter turnout in the first phase of elections. The three-phase Bihar assembly election is the first voting exercise being held in India since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The first two phases held on October 28 and November 3 recorded a voter turnout of 55.69 percent and 55.7 percent respectively. The third and the last phase will be held on November 7 and the counting of votes will be held on November 10.

“Encouraging that voters are taking interest in the election, coming out to vote despite Corona,” Prof Kumar elaborated.

Close

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

View more
How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

View more
Show

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora who called it a “good turnout despite COVID-19 threat” thanked people of Bihar, the local administrations and the polling staff after the second phase was over. The polls are being held amid unprecedented health protocols for voters, politicians and election officials to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In 2015 assembly elections, Bihar recorded 56.8 percent voter turnout, the highest in the last 15 years.

Bihar assembly poll voter turnout has decreased from 62.6 percent in 2000 to 56.8 percent in 2015. Bihar Assembly poll voter turnout has decreased from 62.6 percent in 2000 to 56.8 percent in 2015.

Anti-incumbency vote or reverse migration?

What are the implications of a good turnout? Analysts say that a voter enthusiasm would mean a popular vote against the incumbent government.

“The turnout is satisfactory for sure, especially when elections are being held amid the pandemic. We cannot say what it means exactly. But it does indicate an anti-incumbency against Nitish Kumar,” NK Choudhary, political analyst and former faculty at Patna University told Moneycontrol.

The BJP is contesting the elections as part of the NDA, along with the Janata Dal (United) and other parties. The ruling coalition is challenged by Mahagathbandhan comprising RJD, the Congress and the Left parties.

Most of the opinion polls have predicted an NDA win in Bihar.

Many attribute the good turnout to pandemic-induced reverse migration. Overall, three lakh migrant workers are registered as voters in Bihar’s 38 districts. Of these, nearly 19 lakh had returned home during the pandemic and stayed back, officials said.

Dubious distinction

Bihar’s voter turnout has decreased from 62.6 percent in 2000 to 56.8 percent in 2015 assembly polls. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections it was 55.38 percent while in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it was 53.54 percent.

Low voter turnout has many reasons, experts said, disenchantment among voters being the primary one. Some say that political mobilisation in Bihar has been limited compared to other states, others say the reduced enthusiasm in voting in the last two decades because the governments have not delivered.

“The voter turnout in Bihar has started increasing in mid-90’s during the election reforms under TN Seshan (former chief election commissioner). Booth capturing stopped in Bihar. Also, Lalu’s rule increased the enthusiasm among lower castes,” said Prof DM Diwakar, social scientist and former director of the Patna-based AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies.

Of the 2.19 lakh COVID-19 cases reported so far, 96.5 per cent patients have recovered and 1,113 have died in Bihar Of the 2.19 lakh COVID-19 cases reported so far, 96.5 per cent patients have recovered and 1,113 have died in Bihar

In 1990 assembly elections, the voter turnout in Bihar was 62.04 percent while it was 61.8 per cent in 1995 and in 2000, it was 62.6 percent, highest ever in the last two decades.

“However, over the years people were dissatisfied by the governments as they did not witness any improvement in their lives. Gradually, the enthusiasm started waning,” Prof Diwakar said.

The novel coronavirus is surprisingly showing an impressive decline in Bihar even as political rallies and meetings drew huge crowds in the poll-bound state. Of the 2.19 lakh COVID-19 cases reported so far, 96.5 per cent patients have recovered and 1,113 have died, according to the state health department.

Bihar Election 2020: Follow Moneycontrol’s full coverage here

 
Gulam Jeelani

stay updated

Get Daily News on your Browser
Sections
ISO 27001 - BSI Assurance Mark