General Elections 2014 – Day 69

General Elections 2014 - Voters Turnout

India has finally spoken, and if exit polls are to be believed, decisively. One has to wait for four more days to get a final confirmation of that, but there is no doubt that the people of India took part in a historic election. An election where old formulas of caste and communities were re-written and development became a keyword in the agenda of the political parties. But it also witnessed some of the most unsavoury personal attacks our netas hurled at each other. The acrimony between political parties raised its ugly head in the last day of polling too, particularly in West Bengal.

In the last phase of polling, 41 seats across 3 states went to polls. Among them, 17 were in Bengal, 18 in Uttar Pradesh and 6 in Bihar. Bengal, like the past phases of election, recorded a very impressive turnout of 79.96%. In second position was Bihar with 58%, followed by Uttar Pradesh recording 55.29%. From the very morning, camera lenses were focussed on Varanasi. The turnout in the holy city where Narendra Modi contested against the AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal and the Congress’s Ajai Rai, was pegged at 55.34%, nearly 10% more than that recorded in 2009. A large section of people belonging to the minority community was seen voting. The long queues in the morning also saw significant participation from women.

Overall, combining the 9 phases, average voter turnout was 66.38%, which is the highest ever in the history of Lok Sabha Election. It comfortably surpassed the previous high of 64.01% recorded in the famous “wave” elections of 1984 held in aftermath of the assassination of Indira Gandhi. In 2009, the overall voting percentage was 58.19.

Today controversy erupted in Varanasi, when Congress candidate Ajay Rai was seen sporting a badge representing the Congress party’s symbol on his kurta while casting his vote. The BJP deemed it as a violation of the Model Code of Conduct and immediately complained to the Election Commission. Arvind Keriwal of the AAP also protested against Ajay Rai. The Election Commission, after initial inquiry, decided to file an FIR against him.

Varanasi’s Returning Officer Pranjal Yadav earlier said that they have seen the video and sent their inputs to the higher authorities, who will take appropriate action. According to EC sources, flashing of election symbol at the booth is violation of Section 130 of the Representation of People Act.

Rai defended himself saying he has a right to wear the symbol as a candidate. He said that he can’t be compared with Narendra Modi, who was slapped two FIR’s in Vadodra for holding a lotus symbol in his hand. The Congress has accused BJP of practising double standards in this issue. Rai, though, got support from unexpected quarters today. Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said that it is a minor issue. He remarked sarcastically, “It is not a big deal. Everyone takes their hand into the poll booth, should they cut it off?”

There was also controversy over Narendra Modi giving a video address and releasing it on social media during the polling hours. In a 7-minute video, Narendra Modi urged the common people to go out and vote enthusiastically and also appealed to the security forces to prevent malpractices. The Congress leader Ajay Maken said that the broadcast of this by channels was a violation of the Model Code of Conduct. The grand old party levelled the charge of misusing social media against the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate.

But the real story of the elections happened today in Bengal. Like the past phases, there were allegations of widespread violence and irregularity in the polling process. In most cases, allegations were levelled against the ruling TMC. In Haroa, 4 people were shot and 17 others injured when alleged TMC goons attacked CPIM supporters. In Kolkata itself, a female BJP leader narrowly escaped a bomb attack. Opponents cried hoarse asking for resignation of the EC officials in Bengal. CPIM leader Sitaram Yehury dubbed the polling as “mockery” and “rape of democracy”.

They have sought repolling in nearly 800 booths of the 17 constituencies. The good thing was that in Kolkata, despite isolated violence and disturbances, common people came out in large numbers. There was a turnout of about 63%, significantly higher than that of other metros of India. Mamata Banerjee took to Facebook to counter charges of rigging against her, alleging that some media outlets influenced by powerful political parties are peddling lies.

Another person who resorted to social media soon after completion of elections was Narendra Modi. He, in a blog post, hailed this election as a “victory for the people, a victory for India and the triumph of the ballot.” In a bid to reach out to prospective allies, Modi wrote that it is time to work together for the future of the youth in this country. The PM aspirant hopes that members of the 16th Lok Sabha will work together to reach the goals which our forefathers envisioned for India.

Modi may be in hunt for allies but the slew of exit polls which started just after formal completion of the polls indicates that the NDA may get a clear majority on his own. From 340 seats given by Chanakya to 249 given by Org-Times Now, numbers for the NDA varied from channel to channel, survey to survey, but were optimistic. Also, there was no clear consensus on election results in states like Seemandhra, Telengana, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Punjab, etc. But the broad trend which all these surveys indicated was that Narendra Modi is on the course to become the next Prime Minister of India and there is a real chance of the Congress slumping to two digit figures, which will be a historic low.

The Congress, though, believes that since the pollsters misread the mood of the nation completely in 2004, and partially in 2009, they may be wrong again. The Congress leaders even refused to appear in any Exit Poll shows. Whether they are merely clutching at straws or there is genuine rationale behind their bravado, one will only get to know on the 16th.

The civic poll results in Andhra Pradesh were announced today. Coming just four days ahead of the general elections results, many believe it is a reliable indicator of the possible outcome in the soon to be bifurcated state. The municipal election results were a major shock for the YSR Congress Party in Seemandhra and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti in Telangana. The TDP was victorious in most of the corporations and municipalities of Seemandhra, while the Congress had a big lead in Telangana as compared with the TRS. Assembly elections have also taken place in Andhra simultaneously. It will be interesting to see if the trend continues there also. Narendra Modi tweeted the result and expressed confidence about the prospects of the TDP-BJP combine in the state.

The UPA2, now into its very last days, is all set to carry out a decision which the BJP has opposed bitterly. The Defence Ministry is about to appoint Lt. General Dalbir Singh Suhag as the new Army head, who will succeed Bikram Singh. Sources indicate that the government decided to make this appointment after getting a green signal from the Election Commission.

The Election Commission (EC) today granted Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi three more days to respond to its showcause notice for his alleged controversial remarks in Solan. Rahul had said that if the BJP comes to power, 22,000 people will be killed in violence. The gandhi scion had then sought an extension on the date and now has to answer the EC by May 15th.

This was all for today. Come back tomorrow for the entire political buzz as we begin the countdown to the results!

Related Information:

Uttar Pradesh Election Result
West Bengal Election Results
Rajasthan Election Results
Gujarat Election Result
Maharashtra Election 2014 Results
Andhra Pradesh Election Results
Karnataka Election Result
Delhi Election Results
Tamil Nadu Election Results
Election Results