Polling day in Rajasthan coincides with Dev Uthani Ekadashi, an auspicious occasion when more than 50,000 weddings are likely to take place in the state, and the people involved in the business claim that this could hurt the voting percentage. Dev Uthani Ekadashi will be observed on November 23, when voting for the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly will also be held.
Dev Uthani Ekadashi is the most preferred occasion for weddings. It also marks the beginning of the wedding season.
Trade stakeholders believe that this could affect the voter turnout in the desert state, where the election department has set a target of 75 per cent voter turnout at all the 51,756 polling booths.
The voter turnout in the 2018 Rajasthan Assembly polls was 74.71 per cent.
The Election Commission (EC) announced on Monday that voting for all 200 Assembly seats in Rajasthan will take place on November 23 and the counting of votes will be taken up on December 3.
“Dev Uthani Ekadashi is the most auspicious occasion for weddings and all Hindu castes prefer to hold weddings on this day. More than 50,000 weddings are expected to take place this year on Dev Uthani Ekadashi,” Ravi Jindal, president of the All India Tent Decorators’ Welfare Association, told PTI.
He said the voting could be affected due to the involvement of a large number of people in the wedding ceremonies, from traders to family members and relatives.
Mr Jindal said nearly four lakh traders, including tent dealers and event managers, are engaged in the wedding industry in Rajasthan and around 10 lakh people are directly or indirectly involved in it, including catering service providers, florists, band parties, choreographers etc.
He said many “baraat” or wedding parties travel to different districts or states for wedding-related functions and the labourers also move from place to place, depending on their work.
“In such a situation, a few lakh people will be directly or indirectly busy on the day of polling. Many may not be able to cast their votes due to being engaged in work or not being present at their polling booths on the day of voting,” Mr Jindal said.
Event manager Manish Kumar said, “On Dev Uthani Ekadashi, people go to other cities and districts as part of wedding parties. Similarly, caterers, electricians, florists, band parties and all others engaged in wedding-related work remain busy throughout the day and many of them may skip voting due to this.” He said the wedding venues are already booked and full-scale wedding ceremonies will be held on November 23.
Former state BJP chief Satish Poonia, however, said the situation would not have much of an impact on polling and expressed confidence that the party workers would succeed in bringing the voters to the polling booths.
He said elections are a festival of democracy and there is great enthusiasm among the workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“Voting will be on the day of Dev Uthani Ekadashi, but I do not think that it would have much of an impact because our workers are committed and would ensure that each vote is counted,” Mr Poonia said.
He said there is a large number of migrant Rajasthanis who are expected to come home for the wedding ceremonies and this would balance the situation in a way as they too would exercise their franchise.
The election department has made concentrated efforts to increase the voter turnout in the Assembly election.
The chief electoral officer has set a target of ensuring a 75-per cent voter turnout at all the 51,756 polling booths across the state.
A few new booths have been set up for a small number of voters in order to encourage people to vote.
More than 5.27 crore voters, including 2.75 crore male and 2.51 crore female voters, are eligible to exercise their franchise in this election, according to the final voter list.
About 22 lakh voters aged between 18 and 19 years will cast their votes for the first time.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by String Reveals staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)