In India, the electioneering is contemplated as an open-ended and a vital process which has a direct impact on the lives of common folks and is thus subjected to various discourses and discussions. Our country is considered as an epitome of the biggest electorate and the biggest democracy of the world, where there are multifarious reasons behind the patterns of winning elections on a national as well on the state level. But, on having a discerning look at the electorate, we may find drastic and distressing intricacies related to society’s confidence in the political participation, disbelief in the words of assurance given by the political parties in their manifesto, and their offhand behaviour after the elections. Out of all these dilemmas and hiccups which are discernible, the substantial issue concomitant to elections at the grassroot level is low voter turnout in urban areas as compared to the rural ones. The article has been jotted down in order to trace the history of voter turnout, the change in the voting patterns and to track down the issues which are hampering the urban peeps from going to the polling booths.


In India, the 1st Lok Sabha elections recorded the voter turnouts to be 44.87 per cent which tantamounted to 10.5 crore at that time. At that time, villages were the quintessence and the soul of real India, with 83% of the country’s population residing in the villages at that time. Since then, the voter turnout increased by leaps and bounds to 45.44% in 1957, 55.42% in 1962, 61.04% in 1967, but it again started dwindling off in 1980’s. a lot of studies have been dead and buried in these 4 decades, but the lacunae regarding the low voter turnout in urban areas remained undeciphered, despite the fact that urban population accounts for 31.16% of the country’s population as asserted in the 2011 census , and is expected to escalate to 40% by 2030 and 50% by 2050 . The paramount issues, variables and stumbling blocks identified apropos of the low urban voting are decoded in this research.


1.BAD PERCEPTION OF URBAN PEOPLE WITH REGARDS TO INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT- There is a starking dissimilarity in the way the rural and urban people perceive when it comes to being skeptical about the infrastructural development being enhanced or degraded by the government. In order to embark upon this premise, a research programme called Lokniti was led by the Centre for Developing Societies (CSDS). The research revealed that the urban dwellers were found to be least optimistic while evaluating the efforts taken by the government to enrich the infrastructure. On the other hand, when the rural respondents were asked about analyzing and mirroring the level of infrastructure, they were found to be positive and jubilant as compared to their counterparts. It explicitly points towards the voluminous hopes and aspirations that rural people from the government. The urban dwellers clap eyes on the government as a body of public servants and office bearers who have sloppy and combative behaviour towards the general public. On this account, it can be construed that urban voters don’t hold good attitude towards the state and thus, the infrastructural development as a variable doesn’t impel them to vote.

2. LESS ECONOMIC DEPENDENCE ON MATERIAL RESOURCES OFFERED BY THE STATE- The second variable which plays a dominant role is the miserable disparities and imbalance prevailing in the economic conditions of rural and urban people. Most of the rural people are dependent on the state resources at first hand. The rural people have their hopes pinned on the patrons of the state for continuous and incessant supply of resources like electricity, healthcare and drinking water at subsidized rates, while the urban people have the choices and the economic capabilities to exclude themselves from the services offered by the state. This may be evident from the way they prefer to opt for private hospitals, generators at home and even bottled water, which is a reflection of their being critical of the quality of state resources and the bureaucracy and thus, they are less involved in the political participation, even by the way of voting. Thus, one of the critical reasons behind the less urban voting is because of the dissatisfaction with the state resources.

3. LACK OF WILL TO PARTICIPATE, ENGAGE AND VOTE- The another important variable with respect to voting is the apathy and the erroneous assumption by the urban dwellers that their votes are not going to impact the political affairs and working of the state. There is a common assumption to believe that the urban people are more educated and thus, are more likely to vote, considering it as a civic and moral duty to utilize their right to vote which has been granted as a legal right and is also mentioned in Section 62 of the Representation of People Act. It has been reiterated in various landmark judgements like Nayar v Union of India , Roop Lal Mehta v Dhan Singh & Others and many more. The urban society is substantially assumed as the society having a civic mindset which is more concerned about its interests, but its sheer atypical and delinquent behaviour has proscribed it from understanding that right to vote is not a privilege, but is intrinsically and innately a human right which should be exercised sincerely in order to have a say in the affairs of the society.

The true meaning and essence of the electoral process will be lost if the urban people would dissect themselves out of it. The reason which can be appertained to this lax behaviour of urbanizers is the political illiteracy . This reason is strongly advocate by the survey which was done by National Election Studies (NES) in 2014. In the analysis, certain questions were asked to the voters based on the election related activities. The measurement index was classified in the 3 categories i.e. high participation (involved in 3 or more tasks), some participation (involved in 1 or 2 tasks) and no participation (not involved at all). The questions were asked related to the name of the chief minister of the state in which they reside, the party he/she heads and the pursuits and the activities undertaken by that party. On scrutinizing and having an inspection of it, the research revealed that the maximum number of “don’t know” and “unaware” sort of answers came from the urban people. Thus, the probe founded that the engagement levels by the urban respondents were abhorrent and very low as compared to the rural respondents who displayed higher level of general awareness.


The path ahead to augment the voter turnout in rural areas is to change the perception of the urban voter which they have formed regarding the government. The hypothesis which plays a greater role is that the greater expectations leads to greater participation. Thus, the perception of the urban people needs to be changed which can only be done by the state itself. The people residing in urban cities give much relevance to issues pertaining to corruption and price rise, whereas rural people give much importance to unemployment related aspects. The apathetic attitude of the urban people can be changed by the state by getting the solution of the issues which affects them in their daily life. The pessimistic light as interpreted by the urban people should be emulsified in the positive avenues. All this would lead to urban people identifying themselves as being part of the state and would surely lead to immense increase in voting.


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