We are merely a step away from entering the third act of the political drama of elections 2014. Tomorrow is the last phase of polling (in 41 constituencies), after which the moment of truth will soon arrive on the 16th. Today, the last Sunday before completion of the election, witnessed parties on tenterhooks, already busy strategising for the post-poll scenario.
As it has been pretty much the case in the last few days, today also all eyes were on Varanasi. A flutter was created when it was initially reported that objectionable objects were recovered from the BJP party office in the temple town. Later it was known that the joint team of Election Commission and police officials acting on a tip off had confiscated t-shirts, pamphlets and badges! Initially, the EC officials said that they were confiscating those publicity materials as time for campaigning has elapsed. The BJP contested the EC’s move, saying that those were unused material dumped in the office, and not meant for distribution.
Later, special observer for Varanasi clarified that the materials were indeed not meant to be distributed and announced that these will be released. But this incident gave the BJP another stick to beat the EC with. From Arun Jaitley to Meenakshi Natarajan, all questioned as to why their office was singled out for such a raid.
The battle lines in Varanasi have been drawn pretty clearly with just a day to go for elections. Now, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal has got a major boost in the campaign with late support from the Mufti Board of Varanasi. This clerics’ body has appealed voters to give the AAP their support. Earlier, another influential Muslim leader Mukhtar Ansari announced his support for Congress candidate Ajay Rai. There has been a concentrated effort from a section in Varanasi to ensure that the “secular” vote is not divided so that Narendra Modi finds it difficult to win from here.
The AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal was served a notice by Election Commission for allegedly violating the Model Code of Conduct for his controversial comments against both the BJP and the Congress. Kejriwal, while campaigning in Amethi, had said that voting for either of the two parties is akin to betraying the country and God. This hyperbole has now landed him in trouble. The Election Commission has asked the AAP chief to clarify his stand by May 13.
After a brief break, the controversial SP leader Azam Khan is back in news. He has accused the Election Commission of being biased towards the BJP and has described it as working like BJP’s Election Office. Azam, who was banned from campaigning in UP, was particularly livid about the EC first letting Amit Shah go with a warning for “badla” (revenge) remark, and later not finding anything objectionable with Shah’s jibe about Azamgarh.
The EC is virtually facing fire from all sides. The AAP leader Kumar Vishwas has now questioned the clean chit given by the EC to Rahul Gandhi against the allegation that he violated the secrecy of voting by going near the EVMs. Vishwas, who contested against Rahul from Amethi, took to Twitter to vent his anger. Kumar alleged that although UP’s Election Commission found Congress VP guilty he was let off scot-free. This issue has now picked up some steam, though the EC maintains that there was a snag in the EVM, hence Rahul had a look into it.
Will the AAP support a third-front government to keep out Modi from power? There seems to be some confusion regarding AAP’s stand. AAP leader Gopal Rai said that they may consider giving issue-based support to a non-Congress secular front. Rai, considered close to Kejriwal, said that final decision will be taken only post polls.
However, Arvind Kejriwal promptly refuted this possibility. He categorically denied that the AAP will join the third front and instead attacked the media saying it should stop playing dirty tricks. Many believe Kejriwal doesn’t want to dilute his brand image just a day before voting in Varanasi. In reality, if the situation arises, there will be considerable pressure on him to join the third front.
Narendra Modi, after finishing his marathon campaign, has now resorted to blogging to put across his message to the voters. He has asked voters, especially youth, to come out in record number to make their voices heard.
Polling in most parts of India has been relatively trouble-free, although some incidents of isolated violence are now being recorded. Seven policemen have been killed in a Naxal attack in the Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra. Two have been severely injured in the Naxal orchestrated landmine blast. After the blast, exchange of fires started between the security forces and Naxals. The operation is still underway.
In Meerut, clashes between two groups of people have led to six being injured. Security has been beefed up in Meerut, which is in western Uttar Pradesh. Forces are alert to crack down on any flare up of tension in this extremely sensitive region.
Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh both met the RSS chief Mohan Bhagavat on Sunday. They had earlier met yesterday after Modi winded up his campaign. The Congress today took a dig at these meetings; party spokesperson Abhisek Manu Singhvi dubbed the RSS as an unaccountable remote control. Singhvi hit out at Modi, saying that for all his boast about his 56-inch chest, the Gujarat CM is being dictated by the unaccountable remote control from Nagpur. Nagpur was mentioned by Singhvi as the RSS headquarters is located there. Modi, throughout his campaign, had hit out at PM Manmohan Singh for being controlled by Sonia Gandhi. The Congress, through its jibes against the RSS, tried to return the favour.
Election in 41 constituencies spanning across three states will conclude the voting process of General Elections 2014 tomorrow. In this 9th phase, total eligible voters are nearly 66 million. Already, more than 50 crores people have exercised their democratic right. With a voter turnout of 66.21% so far, all eyes are on whether the Indian electorate can surpass the polling percentage of 64 registered in the 1984 elections.
Of the 41 seats, 18 are in Uttar Pradesh, 17 in Bengal and 6 in Bihar. The bigwigs in this phase of polling are Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal, Mulayam Singh Yadav, RPN Singh, Jagdambika Pal, Adhir Ranjan Chaudhury, Sudeep Banerjee, Dinesh Trivedi, Sougata Ray, etc. Reports of sporadic violence have been coming in from Kolkata and its adjacent areas. Leaders belonging to CPIM’s youth wing have been attacked by suspected TMC hooligans. The EC has its work cut out to ensure free and fair election after complaints of massive rigging in Bengal in the earlier phases.
Varanasi has been literally converted to a fortress. Over 45,000 security personnel have been deployed in the constituency to ensure free and fair polls. Central paramilitary forces have been stationed at all the 1,562 polling stations, which are also under CCTV coverage.
That was all for today. We hope the festival of democracy ends peacefully. We will be back with all news from the big Election Day tomorrow.
Varanasi Election Result
Amethi Election Result
Meerut Election Results
Uttar Pradesh Election Result
Maharashtra Election 2014 Results
Gujarat Election Result
Bihar Election Results
Election Result 2014