Finally, the Big Day dawned today marking the beginning of the first phase of the Lok Sabha polls. Five constituencies in Assam and two constituencies in Tripura went to polls today. Both the places reported peaceful voting. Thank God!
The voter turn-out registered to be 72 percent in Assam and 84 percent in Tripura. The most excited among them were the first-time voters, who were present in good force.
Another big event of the day was the release of the much awaited manifesto by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Speaking during the release of the manifesto, BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi said that if he had to sum up the manifesto in two words, it would be good governance and development. He also added that he will not do anything with any ill intent or for himself. Now, with polling round the corner, can anyone afford to do that?
This definitely may be coming from him to further douse the controversial fire that his close aide Amit Shah had stirred up yesterday by saying that the elections in western Uttar Pradesh is an opportunity to seek revenge for the insults inflicted during the Muzaffarnagar riots last year.
Coming back to the manifesto, it addressed issues like tackling inflation, containing corruption, banning Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retail segment, ending “tax terrorism,” generating millions of jobs for the youth, ensuring growth to reverse a decade of decay, building new cities, assuring a peaceful and secure environment.
It also included Ram temple and other Hindutva issues which did not go down well with the Opposition parties. They accused BJP of exploiting the religion politically and aiming at consolidating Hindu votes.
While the industry has welcomed the party’s promises that aim at inclusive development, India Inc has requested BJP to reconsider the decision on FDI in retail segment. They stressed that a ban may send wrong signals to overseas investors.
The Telegu Desam Party which had forged ties with the BJP yesterday also had to face uncomfortable questions regarding the BJP’s manifesto. Countering the attacks, TDP chief Chandra Babu Naidu said that the alliance is a political compulsion and TDP has always maintained a secular record and will continue to maintain it.
The Nationalist Congress Party also released its manifesto today. The party laid stress on peace, progress and harmony in the society; commitment to enhance the living standards of the common citizen, generation of employment opportunities and encouraging individual entrepreneurship. Manifestoes always make one feel positive and confident.
The Election Commission seems to have met its match. Fiery Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee is livid at the EC for ordering the transfer of five officials. She has dared the Commission to do so. She demanded, “How can the EC transfer and name new officers without consulting the state government?” She added that the EC will only listen to Congress and no one else. The officers in question are five Superintendents of Police, two additional district magistrates and one district magistrate.
Meanwhile, as Assam and Tripura went to polls today, neighbouring country China commented that the Northeast has been the most neglected region. It said that years of neglect by the Indian government has fuelled unrest in the entire region. Inko bahut fikar hai. Kyon bhai? Looks like China is watching the elections closely but as it shares a good rapport with the United Progressive Alliance or the Nationalist Democratic Party, it has nothing much to worry about. The country will be able to establish sound relationship with anyone who forms the government.
Yesteryear star Hema Malini also vouches for the relationship she shares with Mathura. She said that she was destined to make her electoral debut from Mathura, as it was a dream for her. She added that she would concentrate on making Mathura a cleaner city.
Not a single day goes by when there is no scathing attack by one party leader on another. Today’s attack comes from Modi on the Gandhi family. He certainly has a unique way of hurling abuses. Check out!
“The farmers are scared that the government is going to take away their land, so they are selling it dirt cheap to the agents. This is all due to your jeejaji, Shehzadee.” He continued, “Does anyone among you know the trick to earn 50 crore rupees without investing a single paise. Shehzadee’s family knows.” He continued his monologue while the people listened intently to him. (Shehzadee refers to Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi.)
The people of India will be listening to many more leaders as the election campaigning reaches a feverish pitch. Stay tuned with us as we try to make some sense of it.