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Lok Sabha Elections

The final phase of the 18th Lok Sabha elections commenced at 7 am on Saturday, marking the conclusion of India’s grand democratic exercise to elect 543 representatives for the 18th Lok Sabha. This phase encompasses 57 constituencies, including 41 general seats, three reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST), and 13 for Scheduled Castes (SC), spanning eight states and Union Territories. Additionally, voters in 42 assembly constituencies of the Odisha Legislative Assembly are also casting their ballots today.

The states and union territories participating in this seventh phase are Bihar (8 out of 40 seats), Himachal Pradesh (4 out of 4 seats), Jharkhand (3 out of 14 seats), Odisha (6 out of 21 seats), Punjab (13 out of 13 seats), Uttar Pradesh (13 out of 80 seats), West Bengal (9 out of 42 seats), and the Chandigarh Union Territory. As the polling concludes, it will mark the end of the world’s largest electoral marathon, which began on April 19 and has already covered six phases and 486 Lok Sabha seats.

Key Candidates in the Spotlight

Several prominent candidates are in the fray during this final phase. Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks a third term representing Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi, facing off against Congress’ Ajay Rai. Former Union Minister and BJP stalwart Ravi Shankar Prasad is contesting from Patna Sahib. Actress Kangana Ranaut has entered the political arena from Mandi, Himachal Pradesh. Other notable candidates include Congress’ Manish Tewari from Chandigarh, Samajwadi Party leader Afzal Ansari from Ghazipur, and Bhojpuri star Pawan Singh from Karakat.

Key Facts About Phase 7

  • Voter Demographics: Over 10.06 crore voters are eligible to vote in this phase, comprising 5.24 crore males, 4.82 crore females, and 3,574 third-gender electors.
  • Polling Infrastructure: Approximately 10.9 lakh polling officials are on duty to facilitate voting across around 1.09 lakh polling stations.

High-Profile Contests

All eyes are particularly on Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi and Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi constituencies, both strongholds for the BJP. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s candidature from the historic temple town of Varanasi is a significant highlight. In Mandi, actress Kangana Ranaut’s entry into politics has generated considerable interest and media attention.

Campaigning and Security

Campaigning for the seventh phase concluded on Friday, May 30. The Election Commission has ensured tight security arrangements across all polling stations to ensure a smooth and fair voting process. The weather department has also issued advisories to help manage voter turnout, given the summer heat.

As India wraps up its largest democratic exercise, the nation eagerly awaits the results, which will determine the next government and the future course of the country’s political landscape. With a mix of seasoned politicians and new entrants, the final phase promises to be a climactic end to a closely watched election season.

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As the Lok Sabha Elections 2024 progress, the nation gears up for the third phase of polling scheduled for Tuesday, May 7. Across 11 states and union territories, 93 Lok Sabha constituencies are poised for electoral action, with a total of 1,351 candidates vying for victory, as announced by the Elections Commission of India.

While the original count was slated at 94 constituencies across 12 states and Union Territories, the BJP has already secured the Surat seat in Gujarat uncontested. Additionally, the voting for the Anantnag-Rajouri seat in Jammu and Kashmir has been postponed to May 25. Conversely, Betul in Madhya Pradesh, initially planned for the second phase on April 26, will now witness polling during the third phase on May 7.

Among the highlights of the third phase are the full spectrum of Gujarat’s 25 Lok Sabha seats, alongside crucial constituencies in other states:

  • Assam: Voting in 4 out of 14 seats, including Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Barpeta, and Guwahati.
  • Bihar: 5 seats out of 40, encompassing Jhanjharpur, Supaul, Araria, Madhepura, and Khagaria.
  • Chhattisgarh: 7 out of 11 seats, spanning Surguja, Janjgir-Champa, Korba, Bilaspur, Durg, Raipur, and Raigarh.
  • Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu: All 2 seats.
  • Goa: Both seats, including North Goa and South Goa.
  • Karnataka: 14 out of 28 seats, covering constituencies such as Chikkodi, Belgaum, Bagalkot, and Shimoga.
  • Madhya Pradesh: 9 out of 29 seats, including Morena, Gwalior, Bhopal, and Betul.
  • Maharashtra: 11 out of 48 seats, featuring Solapur, Raigad, Baramati, Latur, Satara, and Kolhapur.
  • Uttar Pradesh: 10 out of 80 seats, encompassing regions like Agra, Firozabad, Mainpuri, and Bareilly.
  • West Bengal: 4 out of 42 seats, including Maldaha Uttar, Maldaha Dakshin, Jangipur, and Murshidabad.

With each phase marking a significant step towards the culmination of the electoral process, voters are urged to exercise their democratic right responsibly. The Lok Sabha Elections 2024, spanning seven phases, are set to declare results on June 4, shaping the future trajectory of the nation’s governance.

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In a bold prediction that reverberates across India’s political landscape, esteemed economist and political analyst Surjit Bhalla foresees a resounding victory for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the ongoing 2024 Lok Sabha election. Bhalla, renowned for his insightful analysis, anticipates that the BJP could clinch an impressive tally of 330 to 350 seats, surpassing its remarkable performance in the 2019 polls.

In an exclusive interview with NDTV, Bhalla, whose latest book ‘How We Vote’ delves into the intricacies of voter behavior, outlined his projections for the current general elections. He emphasized Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s enduring popularity and asserted that the BJP’s potential triumph would be a testament to its widespread appeal among the electorate.

“Basing my analysis on statistical probability, I anticipate the BJP securing 330 to 350 seats independently, excluding its alliance partners,” remarked Bhalla during the interview. He further underscored that the BJP is poised to witness a notable surge in seat acquisition, with a projected increase of five to seven percent compared to its 2019 electoral performance.

While acknowledging the possibility of a “wave election,” Bhalla cautioned against presumptions and highlighted the dynamic nature of electoral outcomes.

Opposition’s Prospects and BJP’s Southern Ascent

In contrast to the BJP’s anticipated electoral triumph, Bhalla offered a sobering assessment of the opposition’s prospects. He suggested that the Congress, the primary opposition party, may secure approximately 44 seats, reflecting a marginal decline from its performance in the 2014 elections. Bhalla attributed this prognosis to perceived leadership deficits within the opposition ranks and emphasized the pivotal role of economic factors in shaping voter preferences.

Remarkably, Bhalla also forecasted significant gains for the BJP in traditionally challenging regions like Tamil Nadu and Kerala. He suggested that the BJP could secure five or more seats in Tamil Nadu, signaling a potential breakthrough in a state where the party has historically faced hurdles.

Prime Minister Modi’s Optimism and Vision

Bhalla’s insights coincide with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s optimistic outlook on the BJP’s electoral prospects, particularly in southern states. Modi expressed confidence in the BJP’s expanding footprint in regions like Telangana and underscored the party’s commitment to bolstering its presence across diverse constituencies.

As the Lok Sabha election unfolds, the clash of political ideologies and visions intensifies, with the BJP aiming to consolidate its mandate and the opposition striving to reclaim lost ground. Against this backdrop, Bhalla’s projections offer valuable insights into the evolving dynamics of Indian politics and the trajectory of the ongoing electoral contest.

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Prominent Participation: Chief Ministers and MPs Cast Ballots Early
In the inaugural phase of the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections, prominent political figures, including Chief Ministers and sitting Members of Parliament, demonstrated active participation by casting their ballots early.

Notable Figures: CM Conrad K. Sangma, Sitting Tura MP Agatha K. Sangma, and Others Lead the Way
Among the early voters were figures such as Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma, Sitting Tura MP Agatha K. Sangma, and Congress candidate Gaurav Gogoi, symbolizing the importance of voter engagement in shaping the democratic process.

Key Contests: Union Ministers and Political Heavyweights in the Fray
The electoral battleground witnessed the participation of several key faces, including eight Union Ministers like Nitin Gadkari, Kiren Rijiju, and Sarbanada Sonowal, highlighting the significance of the first phase in shaping national politics.

Regional Dynamics: Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Play Crucial Role
Tamil Nadu and Puducherry collectively contributed the largest number of seats in the first phase, with the Dravidian giants DMK and AIADMK remaining formidable contenders amidst BJP’s aspirations in the state.

Simultaneous Polls: Assembly Elections in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim
The parliamentary polls unfolded alongside Assembly elections in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, adding another layer of electoral dynamism to the proceedings and shaping regional politics.

Caste Dynamics: Caste Politics Come to Fore in Western Uttar Pradesh and Muzaffarnagar
In regions like western Uttar Pradesh and Muzaffarnagar, caste dynamics took center stage as communities mobilized around identity and representation, shaping the electoral discourse.

High Turnout: Brisk Polling in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur-Doda Seat
Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seat witnessed brisk polling, with voters turning out early to participate in the democratic process amidst a complex socio-political landscape.

Leadership Example: RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat and CM Conrad Sangma Lead by Example
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma were among the notable personalities who cast their votes early, emphasizing the importance of civic duty and responsible participation in the electoral process.

Overall Impact: Phase One Marks Beginning of Crucial Chapter in India’s Democratic Journey
The commencement of phase one of the Lok Sabha Elections marked the initiation of a significant chapter in India’s democratic journey, laying the groundwork for further political developments and electoral engagements in the days to come.

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The eagerly anticipated Lok Sabha Elections 2024 are gearing up for an eventful kickstart with the first phase of polling scheduled to commence on Friday, April 19. Covering a vast expanse of 102 parliamentary constituencies across 21 states, this initial phase sets the tone for the electoral journey ahead.

High Stakes: As per the Elections Commission’s meticulously crafted schedule, the nation braces itself for a pivotal exercise in democracy spanning seven phases. The outcome, slated for declaration on June 4, holds the decisive key to India’s future leadership, determining the next Prime Minister of the nation.

Diverse Landscape: From the serene landscapes of Arunachal Pradesh to the vibrant heartlands of Tamil Nadu, the first phase of voting encapsulates the diverse fabric of India’s political spectrum. With constituencies spread across the length and breadth of the country, the electoral process promises to engage citizens from every corner.

Key Highlights: Here’s a snapshot of the constituencies in focus for the inaugural phase of Lok Sabha Elections 2024:

  • Arunachal Pradesh: All 2 Lok Sabha constituencies.
  • Assam: 5 out of 14 Lok Sabha constituencies.
  • Bihar: 4 out of 40 Lok Sabha constituencies.
  • Chhattisgarh: 1 out of 11 Lok Sabha constituencies.
  • Madhya Pradesh: 6 out of 29 Lok Sabha constituencies.
  • Maharashtra: 5 out of 48 Lok Sabha constituencies.
  • Manipur: All 2 Lok Sabha constituencies.
  • Meghalaya: All 2 Lok Sabha constituencies.
  • Mizoram: 1 Lok Sabha constituency.
  • Nagaland: 1 Lok Sabha constituency.
  • Rajasthan: 12 out of 25 Lok Sabha constituencies.
  • Sikkim: 1 Lok Sabha constituency.
  • Tamil Nadu: All 39 Lok Sabha constituencies.
  • Tripura: 1 out of 2 Lok Sabha constituencies.
  • Uttar Pradesh: 8 out of 80 Lok Sabha constituencies.
  • Uttarakhand: All 5 Lok Sabha constituencies.
  • West Bengal: 3 out of 42 Lok Sabha constituencies.
  • Andaman And Nicobar: 1 Lok Sabha constituency.
  • Jammu and Kashmir: 1 out of 5 Lok Sabha constituency.
  • Lakshadweep: 1 Lok Sabha constituency.
  • Puducherry: 1 Lok Sabha constituency.

Significance: With the destiny of the nation hanging in the balance, the electorate prepares to exercise their democratic right, casting their votes to shape the course of India’s future. As the electoral saga unfolds, citizens await with bated breath to witness the dawn of a new era in Indian politics.

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has launched its election manifesto, Sankalp Patra, for the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha polls, highlighting key initiatives focusing on the empowerment of women, youth, farmers, and the underprivileged. Led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the manifesto pledges to implement the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) among other significant reforms.

PM Modi’s Vision for Viksit Bharat

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed gratitude to the manifesto committee for their meticulous efforts in crafting the comprehensive Sankalp Patra. Emphasizing the BJP’s track record of fulfilling manifesto promises, PM Modi highlighted the document’s focus on empowering youth, women, the impoverished, and farmers. He underscored the party’s commitment to enhancing quality of life, job creation, and investment-driven growth.

PM Modi assured the continuation of the free ration scheme for the next five years, prioritizing nutritious and affordable food for the underprivileged. Furthermore, he announced initiatives such as the expansion of the Mudra Yojana loan ceiling and the PM Swanidhi Yojana, catering to small businesses in tier two and tier three cities.

Empowering Women and the Marginalized

In alignment with the BJP’s agenda, PM Modi pledged to strengthen women’s participation in the workforce and self-help groups (SHGs). The manifesto outlines plans to train women from SHGs in various sectors and aims to create three crore “Lakhpati Didis.” Additionally, provisions for the elderly, disabled, and transgender community were highlighted, including priority access to healthcare and housing schemes.

Key Focus Areas in BJP’s Manifesto

The Sankalp Patra encompasses a broad spectrum of initiatives, including the implementation of the UCC, streamlining electoral processes with One Nation One Poll, and bolstering India’s economy to become the world’s third-largest. Other notable commitments include infrastructure development, healthcare reforms, and advancing India’s position in the global arena, such as securing a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council.

JP Nadda’s Remarks

BJP President JP Nadda reiterated the party’s commitment to its ideological foundation, emphasizing continuity in delivering on promises made to the electorate. He lauded PM Modi’s inclusive vision encapsulated in “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas,” underscoring the party’s unwavering dedication to fulfilling its guarantees.

The launch of the Sankalp Patra sets the stage for BJP’s electoral campaign, showcasing a comprehensive roadmap for the nation’s development and prosperity under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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The Election Commission of India (ECI) has announced significant relaxations in the voting procedure for Kashmiri migrants who relocated to Jammu and Udhampur in the 1990s, ensuring their seamless participation in the upcoming 2024 general elections. Chaired by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar, a meeting was convened with Election Commissioners Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Singh Sandhu to address the concerns of displaced voters and streamline the voting process.

Previously, displaced Kashmiri Pandits were mandated to fill out Form M to transfer their voting registration from Kashmir to polling stations in Jammu, Udhampur, or Delhi. However, the ECI has now waived the requirement of Form M for individuals from Baramulla, Srinagar, and Anantnag-Rajouri.

Moreover, the commission has approved the acceptance of self-attested certificates along with Form M from migrants residing outside Jammu and Udhampur, eliminating the need for attestation by a gazetted officer. This decision comes in response to numerous representations received by the ECI highlighting the bureaucratic hurdles faced by Kashmiri migrants during the voting process.

Chief Electoral Officer of Jammu & Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole, lent support to a recommendation by political parties advocating for voting options at transitory camps and through postal ballots for Kashmiri migrants. Consequently, the ECI has designated 22 special polling stations across Jammu and Udhampur, ensuring accessibility for all displaced voters.

These special polling stations will derive electoral roll extracts from the respective assembly constituencies, with measures in place to prevent duplication between postal ballot voters and those voting in person. Migrants residing outside Jammu and Udhampur will have the option to self-attest Form M for voting at special polling stations, presenting their Electors Photo Identification Card or alternative identification.

The ECI’s initiative aims to streamline the voting process for displaced Kashmiris, offering both in-person and postal ballot options. Forms necessary for voting are available on the ECI website, facilitating greater accessibility and participation in the democratic process.

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In a display of political solidarity, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath spearheaded a vibrant roadshow in Ghaziabad on Saturday, endorsing the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) candidate Atul Garg for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The roadshow, marking PM Modi’s first campaign appearance in Uttar Pradesh, showcased a robust turnout of enthusiastic supporters, chanting slogans and waving party flags.

Accompanied by Union Minister V K Singh and the BJP candidate Atul Garg, PM Modi and CM Yogi Adityanath embarked on a spirited journey through the streets of Ghaziabad. Amidst a sea of fervent supporters, the leaders rode in an open vehicle bedecked with flowers, symbolizing the BJP’s iconic lotus emblem. The crowd, echoing slogans of “Abki baar 400 paar” (Crossing 400 seats this time), “Har Har Modi”, and “Jai Shri Ram”, exuded unwavering enthusiasm and support for the ruling party.

The roadshow, spanning approximately one-and-a-half kilometers from Maliwad Chowk to Chaudhary Mod, witnessed an overwhelming response from the public. PM Modi expressed gratitude for the warm reception, acknowledging the affectionate welcome extended by the people of Ghaziabad. The event, meticulously organized by the district administration, saw extensive security measures with the deployment of over 5,000 police personnel and traffic diversions.

Dressed in vibrant attire, including yellow saris and saffron pagdis, women danced exuberantly, adding to the festive ambiance of the occasion. PM Modi, in a post-event statement, lauded the significant participation of the youth and women, underscoring their crucial role in shaping the nation’s progress. He reiterated the BJP’s commitment to further enhancing the quality of life in Ghaziabad through comprehensive developmental initiatives.

As the roadshow progressed, excited onlookers thronged the streets, showering flowers and raising slogans in support of the BJP. The event culminated in a vibrant display of political fervor, setting the stage for the upcoming elections in Ghaziabad scheduled for April 26. Notably, the BJP has nominated former Uttar Pradesh minister Atul Garg as its candidate, replacing incumbent Union Minister V K Singh.

In addition to the roadshow, PM Modi addressed a rally in Saharanpur earlier in the day, extending support to BJP candidates across the state. The campaign fervor in Ghaziabad was further heightened as BJP workers distributed sweets among the populace, amplifying the anticipation and excitement surrounding the forthcoming elections.

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In a scathing editorial, the Financial Times has raised concerns about the state of democracy in India, highlighting a widening gap between pro-democratic rhetoric and ground realities. The British daily’s editorial board noted that despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s characterization of India as the “Mother of Democracy,” recent events suggest a troubling erosion of democratic principles.

Growing Concerns:
The editorial underscores a trend of escalating suppression of free expression and opposition voices under the rule of Prime Minister Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), particularly since its resounding victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Citing recent incidents such as the arrest of opposition leaders, including Arvind Kejriwal, by the Enforcement Directorate and allegations of bank account freezing by the Congress party, the Financial Times highlights a pattern of government critics facing harassment through tax or legal authorities.

Opposition Allegations:
Opposition parties have accused the Modi-led government of misusing investigation agencies to target political rivals, labeling the BJP as a “washing machine” where opposition politicians accused of corruption find refuge after joining the ruling party. The Financial Times references an Indian Express report revealing that a significant number of opposition leaders accused of corruption since 2014 have evaded investigation after aligning with the BJP.

Loktantra Bachao Rally and Allegations of Match-Fixing:
The editorial also delves into the recent “Loktantra Bachao” Maharally held in Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan, where key opposition leaders united to protest against perceived misuse of central agencies by the Modi government. Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi accused Modi of “match-fixing” in the run-up to the elections, alleging the BJP’s use of state agencies to suppress opponents.

International Concerns:
Expressing puzzlement over the ruling party’s perceived need to stifle opposition voices amid favorable opinion polls, the Financial Times emphasizes the importance of upholding democratic principles for India’s global reputation as a vibrant democracy. The editorial alludes to concerns raised by the United States following New Delhi’s summoning of the top US diplomat over Washington’s criticism of Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest, calling for robust defense of political freedoms by democratic nations.

Call for Preservation of Political Freedoms:
The Financial Times concludes by urging India to bridge the gap between democratic rhetoric and reality, emphasizing that preserving political freedoms is crucial for the country’s growth, prosperity, and global standing. It calls on democratic nations to stand firm in safeguarding democratic values, essential for India’s role as a leading member of the global community.

The editorial’s critique adds to the ongoing discourse surrounding India’s democratic health and underscores the need for a robust defense of democratic principles in the face of growing concerns about political freedoms and government accountability.

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