The Economic Times quoting data released by the Election Commission reveals West Bengal registering the highest number of first-time voters (20.1 lakh). This is followed by U.P (16.7 lakh); M.P (13.6 lakh); Rajasthan (12.8 lakh); Maharashtra (11.9 lakh); Tamil Nadu (8.9 lakh); Andhra Pradesh (5.3 lakh); Delhi (97,684).
Overall, 8.4 crore voters will vote for the first time in 2019, over those in 2014. Of these, 1.5 crore are between the ages of 18 and 19 years. That’s 1.66 percent of total voters in 2019, and so, this segment of first time voters can upset traditional voting calculations of various parties in different states.
India’s fourth largest state by population will witness a bigger impact of first-time voters than say U.P, India’s most populous state. Across the country, youth voters can upset caste-based calculations since they tend to lean towards leaders with charisma rather than vote based on traditional influences.
Healthcare Act and Sedition Act may find a place in Congress manifesto
Congress President Rahul Gandhi has announced his party will abolish the contentious Sedition Law if it comes to power. Over the years the controversial law, drafted during the British Raj, has attracted heated debate over its application in political cases. The most recent ones applied against JNU students and other left-leaning intellectuals purportedly supporting Naxal extremists. The BJP has already voiced its concerns against the promise.
In a move to counter PM Modi’s Ayushman Bharat Health Insurance plan, Rahul Gandhi today spoke of introducing the Healthcare Act if UPA came to power while speaking at a rally in Raipur, Chhattisgarh.
The Times of India quoted the Congress President promising to raise spending on healthcare to 3 percent of GDP with a minimum level of quality healthcare available to all. Addressing medical professionals, he also spoke of raising investment in medical education and training.
BSP-JSP cozy-up in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
Pawan Kalyan-led Jana Sena Party (JSP) is bullish after announcing a tie-up with the BSP in the forthcoming polls in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. JSP is already part of the alliance comprising CPI(M) and CPI. With BSP joining the alliance, JSP will be in a stronger position to take on TRS in Telangana and TDP in Andhra Pradesh. The JSP-BSP alliance announced contesting all 175 assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats in A.P.
Naveen Patnaik confident of a 5th term
Four-time CM of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik of the Biju Janta Dal (BJD) is gearing up to mount a fifth-time challenge. Odisha will hold concurrent elections for Assembly and Lok Sabha seats this year.
The soft-spoken and largely non-controversial leader continues to remain popular across the state despite the BJP making strong inroads in traditional BJD strongholds.
Longtime BJD politician, Baijayant Panda joining the BJP will have some impact against BJD, but Naveen Patnaik’s stature remains largely unchallenged in the state.
BJD had been a BJP ally till 2009 when CM Patnaik decided to steer the party away from both the BJP and the Congress. That position remains with BJP presenting the bigger challenge to the party in Odisha.