Countdown begins for counting of votes for the 17th Lok Sabha
The Election Commission of India will begin counting of votes for the 17th Lok Sabha 2019; Legislative Assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, and Sikkim.
The counting of votes shall commence at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, 23 May 2019. The EC has directed the Returning Officers, Assistant Returning Officers, supervising officers to carry only the authorized mobile phones to receive the One-Time-Password (OTP) to activate the Electronically Postal Ballot Paper System (ETPBS). After receiving the OTP and activating the ETPBS, the mobile phones are to be switched once the system is logged on to the ETPBS.
EC rejects opposition demand on VVPATs
In response to the opposition parties, collective demand for counting VVPAT sample votes before the entire counting commences has been turned down by the EC. The decision has not gone down well with the opposition parties, and tension remains high at various strong rooms and counting centres across the country.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi of the Congress held a press conference criticizing the EC’s decision not to accept opposition demands. According to Singhvi, there was no reason for the EC to reject the opposition demand on VVPAT sample counting and his refusal to recognize the fact the 21 political parties represent 75 percent of the people’s voice.
In a potentially volatile statement, RSLP leader Upendra Kushwaha said he was ready to take up arms if required if he or his party members were threatened. He did not clarify where the threat was coming.
Ex-RJD and now Independent candidate Ram Chandra Yadav from Buxar in Bihar has openly stated his supporters will take to arms if there is any mismatch between EVM and VVPATs.
NDA ally and LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan was quick to respond saying they were prepared for a tit-for-tat response to any such violence triggered by the opposition camp.
As a precautionary move, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued an advisory to all states and Union Territories to take additional precautionary measures to strengthen security and maintain law and order.
Opposition braces for the BJP offensive
The opposition parties are bracing for what many are calling Operation Lotus once the final results are announced. They fear the BJP will use their enormous cash war chest to buy out opposition leaders in an attempt to break the ruling parties in select states.
There is some merit in the claim. On Tuesday, Roshan Baig (Cong), the minority candidate from Karnataka, came out in open rebellion against the state Congress leadership. On Wednesday, DV Sadanand Gowda (BJP) said there would be defections once the final results become clear by the evening of 23rd in a clear hint the party was geared to make break up the coalition in the state.
The state unit of BJP in Bengal has also been making similar claims saying TMC leaders were waiting for the results to become clear before they dump their party.
In Madhya Pradesh, Leader of the Opposition Gopal Bhargava (BJP), gave a call for the Congress to take a floor test to prove majority.
Earlier in the month, a day before polling in Delhi, Deputy CM of Delhi Manish Sisodia held a press conference claiming the BJP had approached seven of its MLAs with an offer of Rs 10 crore each to join the saffron party.
Expect politics on steroids as the day progresses once counting begins.
Why Mayawati had to suspend Ramveer Upadhyay
For those who may not be familiar with Ramveer Upadhyay, he is BSP leader with influence among the upper castes and Brahmins in the Agra-Mathura-Aligarh region and served in the cabinet of the Mayawati-led government in U.P between 2007 and 2012.
Having served as the Chief Whip in the Mayawati government, he was an important figure in the BSP leadership and the party’s Brahmin face among the people. The fact can gauge his popularity in 2017 assembly elections; he won the Sadabad assembly seat in Hathras despite the BJP wave sweeping the state.
The main reason behind his suspension was him openly campaigning for Satish Gautam (BJP) in Aligarh and damaging the winning chances of BSP candidates from Aligarh and Fatehpur Sikri in Agra.
Ramveer Upadhyay’s wife, Seema, is a former BSP M.P and was expected to contest the 2019 elections from Fatehpur Sikri. A last-minute change to Aligarh did not go down well with her, and she refused to contest.
In February this year, Ramveer’s brother Mukul Upadhyay rebelled against the BSP leadership and joined the BJP. From then on, Ramveer Upadhyay began gravitating towards the BJP.