Massive Lok Sabha Election Commences: High Turnout Amidst Sporadic Violence

Feature and Cover Massive Lok Sabha Election Commences High Turnout Amidst Sporadic Violence

The extensive endeavor to elect the 18th Lok Sabha commenced today, marking the initiation of elections on 102 seats spread across 21 states and Union Territories. As the first phase drew to a close, approximately 60.03% of the electorate cast their votes. Instances of sporadic violence marred the process in Manipur and Bengal.

Here’s a concise breakdown of the key highlights from this significant event:

The Election Commission, overseeing the seven-phase electoral process spanning 43 days, affirmed, “The Election Commission is working strenuously to ensure a smooth, transparent, and inclusive electoral process in the subsequent phases of General Elections 2024.”

Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, which also held assembly elections concurrently, witnessed turnouts of 68% and 68.3%, respectively. In comparison, Sikkim had recorded an 80.1% voter turnout, while Arunachal Pradesh saw 65.1% in the 2019 elections.

Tamil Nadu, conducting a single-day election, registered a voter turnout of 67.2%, down from 72.4% in 2019. Rajasthan, sharing half of the 102 contested seats with Tamil Nadu, witnessed a voter turnout of 57.3%, a decrease from the previous 64%.

By 7 pm, Uttar Pradesh reported a voter turnout of 59.5%, while Madhya Pradesh recorded 66.7%. Bengal saw one of the highest turnouts at 77.6%, where the BJP aims to narrow the gap with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress. In 2019, the BJP secured victory in 18 out of Bengal’s 42 seats.

The northeastern states, predominantly BJP-led, demonstrated substantial turnout rates: Assam at 72.3%, Meghalaya at 74.5%, Manipur at 69.2%, Arunachal Pradesh at 67.7%, and Tripura at a remarkable 80.6%.

Incidents of clashes between Trinamool Congress and BJP workers erupted in Cooch Behar, Bengal, with accusations of violence, voter intimidation, and assault on poll agents exchanged. Despite police denial of violence, gunfire was reported at a polling station in Bishnupur, Manipur, and a polling booth was vandalized in Imphal East district. Tragically, two elderly individuals, including a 77-year-old woman, passed away at polling booths in Salem district, Tamil Nadu.

The BJP, despite its confident stance on securing a third consecutive term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, managed to secure only 50% of the contested seats in the previous general election. The NDA and UPA clinched 41 and 45 seats, respectively, with six seats undergoing redrawn boundaries as part of delimitation.

With ambitions set on achieving 370 seats, the BJP is placing significant reliance on southern states, particularly Tamil Nadu, where it has yet to establish a foothold, and Bengal. In an exclusive interview with NDTV, Union Minister and BJP’s chief strategist, Amit Shah, emphasized PM Modi’s popularity, expressing optimism that it will translate into the party’s success in the south.

Despite being marginalized in northern India, the Congress remains optimistic about its resurgence. Senior leader KC Venugopal anticipates an enhanced performance in several northern states, including BJP strongholds like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Bolstered by victories in Telangana and Karnataka assembly polls, and the alliance with DMK in Tamil Nadu, the party is confident about its prospects in the southern region.

The counting of votes is scheduled for June 4th.

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