The Bihar Post

‘Apna time aa gaya hai’ but why PM Modi is apprehensive of poor voters’ turnout?

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PATNA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched pre-election blitz with 29 rapid-fire tweets. Through his tweets, the PM reached out to 90 celebrities from various fields urging them to encourage higher voter turnout in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls which will be held in April-May.

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The question now being hotly debated in the political circles is that why the PM had to reach out to the cross-section of celebrities for impressive voters’ turnout while “Apna Time Aa Gaya Hai” (their time has already come). Why the PM is apprehensive of not getting good turnouts this election?

Various reasons are being cited for poor voters’ turnout this year. The first among them is various Hindu, Muslim, Jain and Christian festivals that coincide with the poll schedule.

For example: the Basanti Navratra, nine-day festival of the Hindus, begins from April 6 this year and will conclude on April 14. This festival dedicated to Goddess Durga is known for Hindus observing fast during this time while the seven-phase polling starts from April 11.

In between this nine-day Navratra, two other prominent Hindu festivals also fall—they are Chaiti Chhath which is observed in a large part of south Bihar and Rama Navami, a spring Hindu festival that celebrates the birthday of god Rama. This means a vast section of Hindus will be busy in celebrating these festivals, finding little and just no time to line up before the polling stations under the fire-spitting Sun to cast their votes.

Likewise, two important festivals of Jains and Christians, Mahavir Jayanti and Good Friday fall on April 17 and April 19 respectively while the country goes for polling on April 18 in the second phase.

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Similarly, Ramzan ort Ramadan, which is a month of rigorous fasting for the Muslims, is expected to begin on May 5 which too coincides with the polling schedule in the states. Muslim clerics requested for change of polling schedule but the Election Commission has announced the polling will go as usual saying the full month can’t be excluded.

Yet another important factor that is set to badly affect the poll percentage is the months-long wedding season which starts from April 15. What is significant here is that quite many wedding dates coincide with the poll dates in April and May which are obviously set to bring down the poll percentage as the people will be rather too busy in making wedding arrangements for guests at home.

The auspicious wedding dates in April, according to Hindu calendars, are 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26 while in May, the auspicious dates to tie nuptial knots are 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23.

Of them, many wedding dates in April and May coincide with the polling dates which is likely to keep people away this time if not all of them. The clash of dates has kept the general masses worried. They don’t know whom to give first priority—attending wedding guests at home or the voting at the local polling stations!

*The author is a senior journalist based at Patna, India

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