Polling Day: Lowest voter turnout in Hyderabad LS seat; Muslim voters abstaining, a concern

Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat saw low voting in Muslim dominated areas causing a concern

By Kaniza Garari  Published on  13 May 2024 2:19 PM GMT
Polling Day: Lowest voter turnout in Hyderabad LS seat; Muslim voters abstaining, a concern

Hyderabad: As per the latest information from the ECI at 6 pm on Monday, the lowest voter turnout in Telangana was recorded in the Hyderabad Parliamentary constituency. This low voter turnout of 39.17 percent has left party workers, social activists and citizens baffled.

In the Old City, despite calls from more than 140 masjids in the last two days, appealing to people to come out and vote, the percentage has been very poor till 6 pm.

Why is the Old City of Hyderabad not voting?

G Niranjan, vice president of the Telangana Pradesh Congress committee said, “The sitting Member of Parliament Asaduddin Owaisi is not being given the love of people in terms of votes.”

The other candidates contesting for the Hyderabad seat, Sameer Waliullah from the Congress party and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Madhavi Latha are also in the fray but they too don’t seem to have captured the interests of people.

“People are showing that they are not happy with the politics in Hyderabad and are abstaining from voting,” Niranjan added.

The Congress party, in the last week running up to the polling day, released special notes on the job prospects and promised development of the Old City. However, the low turnout at the polling booths is an indication of how their efforts failed to materialise into votes.

A resident of Charminar on condition of anonymity said, "Usually AIMIM workers are seen in the lanes, announcing and also urging people to come out and vote. This time that was not seen across many lanes in Old City. The ground activity was totally missing. Only those who were highly motivated to vote, came out of their homes."

Drama inside a polling station

BJP candidate Madhavi Latha visited several booths and lamented at the low voter turnout.

In a video which went viral on Monday morning, she was seen checking the identification of burqa-clad women by asking them to lift their veils, leading to a police case against her.

Latha has been moving from one polling station to another to monitor voting progress and appealed to people in the afternoon to vote.

No voter slips

Voter slips were not distributed by the officials of the election commission which is also being seen as another reason for the low turnout. Despite the voter slips being available online, only a few have downloaded them in time.

Deleted and missing names

Surprisingly, even those who voted in the Telangana Assembly election in November 2023 could not find their names on the voters’ list on Monday.

Despite many campaigns in the run-up to the elections reminding voters to verify their names on the electoral list, many people left the work to the last minute, resulting in confusion. Many who reached their polling stations in anticipation of voting had to turn back after not finding their names on the list.

Social activist SQ Masood in Hyderabad tweeted about his family members’ names missing from the voters’ list.

Taking to X (formerly Twitter) on May 12, he tweeted, “Yesterday evening I came to know that the names of 10 family members including mine were deleted from electoral rolls (of Bahadurpura Assembly constituency) without any notice.” He attached a complaint he sent to the election registration officer in Bahadurpura demanding reasons behind the deletion of names from electoral sheets. He also claimed that 2.68 lakh voters were deleted in Hyderabad.

Another voter Mrs Noor said, “Me and my husband have 10-year-old voter cards and we had applied for new ones online. We received a message from the ECI but we were not allowed to vote as our name were not on the list.”

Empty lanes and closed doors

When it was noticed that many were refraining from voting, people went around the lanes in the Old City, banging doors and asking people to come out and vote. However, many did not get a response from the residents and the doors remained closed.

This was captured in a video that went viral on Monday afternoon. A voiceover in the video speaks about how ‘with no development and no change’ people are not willing to come out and vote.

Many said that the AIMIM cadre has been largely unenthusiastic about polling. They did not go to Muslim-dominated areas to ask people to come out and vote.

A voter, under the condition of anonymity, told NewsMeter that ‘a lack of faith in the leader’ is the reason for the low turnout. “People are looking for a change but having no alternatives or choices they are avoiding voting,” the person said.

Appeals sent by muftis

Around 2 pm, muftis from various masjids appealed to people to come out and vote. Yet, the response was not encouraging.

Helping hand from weather

One of the positive aspects on the voting day was the pleasant weather. It was a welcome change for the residents of the Twin Cities.

The weather on polling day was better compared to the extreme heat that the city has witnessed in the last few days. Temperatures in the afternoon too were low and it was easy for voters of all age groups to walk or take a ride to the polling station.

However, despite favourable weather, people were not in the mood to vote going by the low polling numbers.

EVMs malfunction

Malfunctioning EVMs were recorded in some polling stations. Voting was stalled due to the malfunction of EVMs in polling booth No 88 in Chandrayangutta. Hyderabad MP candidate and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi went to the polling station and asked the voters to give time to fix the EVMs.

Data on polling stations

Here are some of the data highlights from the polling stations under the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat:

- Goshamahal and Karwan witnessed a high percentage of voting in the Hyderabad Parliament Constituency. Both are non-Muslim-dominated constituencies. Yakutpura is a 50 per cent non-Muslim-dominated constituency.

- Here is a break up of the polling stations under Hyderabad LS seat:

Malakpet - 300

Charminar - 198

Bahadurpura - 263

Karwan - 311

Goshamahal - 235

Chandrayangutta - 305

Yakutpura - 332

Total: 1,934 booths

Out of these, Muslim-dominated areas are Bahadurpura and Charminar. Goshamahal is a Hindu-majority area, the mixed areas include Yakutpura, Karwan, Malakpet and Chandrayangutta.

Why low voter turnout?

In the coming days after the polling many questions have to be answered: why do people who attend the rallies in large numbers don’t turn up in voting queues and what does this kind of voter apathy mean? These questions and more should be answered once the ECI releases full details on voter turnout.

These questions require introspection at the level of all political parties who have fielded candidates in the constituency and also from the voters and the impact their refusal to vote will have on their lives.

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