Mumbai: India votes from today to elect the country’s 17th Lok Sabha, a process that will span seven phases till May 19. The verdict of the people is out on May 23.
The second is on April 18, third on April 23 and fourth on April 29, fifth on May 6, sixth on May 12 and seventh phase on May 19.
The elections to 543 seats are being conducted in nearly 10 lakh polling booths across the country these elections.
In the first phase, there are polls in all Lok Sabha constituencies of Andhra Pradesh (25), Telangana (17), Uttarakhand (5), Meghalaya (2) and Arunachal Pradesh (2) besides lone seats in Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar, and Lakshadweep. Eight seats in Uttar Pradesh, seven in Maharashtra, six in Bihar, five in Assam, four in Odisha, two each in Jammu and Kashmir and West Bengal and one seat in Chhattisgarh are also going to polls.
Among the prominent leaders standing for elections today are Nitin Gadkari (Nagpur), Kiren Rijiju (Arunachal West), V K Singh (Ghaziabad), Satyapal Singh (Baghpat) and Mahesh Sharma (Gautam Buddha Nagar). Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh and his son Jayant Chaudhary are also contesting.
Simultaneous Assembly elections are being held in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim today.
Chief Election Commissioner of India Sunil Arora said in 2019, 900 million people are registered as voters, of which 15 million are in the 18-19 age groups. There are 84.3 million new voters since 2014, and 15 million voters in the age group of 18-19.
Polls are being held across 91 constituencies today across 18 states and two Union Territories.
It has been a bitterly fought run-up to the polls with both the ruling NDA, the Opposition Congress and other regional parties launching virulent and personal attacks on each other. The BJP-Congress campaign has centred on the ‘chowkidar-chor’ narrative, with the slogans ‘Phir Ek Baar, Modi Sarkar’ and ‘Ab Hoga NYAY’ being respective themes.
The Congress’ manifesto has been more welfare, promising crop loan waiver, jobs for women and NYAY – a scheme to pay 20 per cent of the poorest families Rs 72,000 a year.
The BJP balanced populist welfare initiatives with muscular nationalism, promising pension to 15 crore marginal farmers and small shopkeepers to counter Congress’ NYAY. It also vowed to extend Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) to the whole nation to push out infiltrators and show zero tolerance for terror.
It has promised to make India a 5 trillion dollar economy by 2025, reiterating on its unfulfilled promises of constructing the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and scrapping of Articles 370 and 35A.
The Congress has failed to lead a grand alliance of opposition and regional parties, managing a tie-up only in Bihar among the important states.
2014’s giant Modi wave is definitely missing this time, and if the BJP is on tenterhooks, it is certainly not showing it. The Prime Minister’s approval rates, however, are high.
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