• Tuesday, May 28, 2024

India News

Campaigning ends for second phase of India elections

India’s home minister and leader of the BJP Amit Shah (C) and Tejasvi Surya, MP from Bangalore South constituency, during a roadshow in Bengaluru on 23 April. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

Campaigning concluded on Wednesday evening for the second phase of India’s elections in 89 seats across 13 states set for 26 April.

The initial phase, held last Friday for 102 seats across 21 states and Union territories, witnessed over 64 per cent voter turnout.

The upcoming phase covers constituencies in Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Manipur, Tripura, and Jammu and Kashmir.

Key candidates include Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar, BJP’s Tejasvi Surya, actors Hema Malini and Arun Govil, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Shashi Tharoor, Karnataka deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar’s brother DK Suresh, and former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy.

During the campaign, prime minister Narendra Modi stirred controversy by alleging the Congress manifesto aimed to provide resources to “infiltrators” and those with more children, referencing former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s 2006 speech.

Congress responded, accusing Modi of lies and hate speech. Modi reiterated his claims the next day but refrained from mentioning Muslims. He warned against Congress and opposition INDIA bloc’s intentions during a rally in Aligarh.

As campaigning was drawing to a close, remarks by Congress leader Sam Pitroda on inheritance tax gave enough fodder to Modi and other BJP leaders to launch an all-out attack on the issue of “wealth redistribution”.

In his poll rallies on Wednesday, Modi framed Pitroda’s comments in his wider onslaught against the Congress, asserting that they have exposed its hidden agenda and that the party has become so removed from the country’s social and family values that it wants to legally rob people of their assets and lifelong savings they want to bequeath to their children.

The Congress swung into damage control, distancing itself from the comments of the US-based president of its overseas wing.

After Friday’s phase, polling will be over in Kerala, Rajasthan, and Tripura. In the first phase on April 19, polling was completed in all seats of Tamil Nadu (39), Uttarakhand (5), Arunachal Pradesh (2), Meghalaya (2), Andaman and Nicobar Islands (1), Mizoram (1), Nagaland (1), Puducherry (1), Sikkim (1), and Lakshadweep (1).

Following Friday’s phase, polling will conclude in Kerala, Rajasthan, and Tripura. In the 2019 elections, BJP-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) won 56 of these 89 seats, while Congress-led UPA (United Progressive Alliance) secured 24.

Authorities have instructed constituencies to ensure no outsiders remain 48 hours before polling, with all forms of electioneering strictly prohibited.

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