As poll commotion ends, prayers begin

| | New Delhi
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As poll commotion ends, prayers begin

Friday, 31 May 2024 | Rajesh Kumar/Samar Pandey | New Delhi

As poll commotion  ends, prayers begin

Amid hostile weather conditions and poll bickering to woo the voters, the 44-day longest ever campaign for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls ended on Thursday evening. The intensity of the campaigns showcased the high stakes and each party's will to maintain their position as the election process neared conclusion.  This phase could well be the game changer for the future of the country as well as the political climate.

This is probably the first election, where people witnessed Prime Minister Narendra Modi using " Brand Modi" during the 44 days long poll campaign as well as the Opposition parties also used "Modi Brand'.  Even BJP candidates are banking on Modi's charisma to win and sought votes in the name of Brand Modi.

After the end of campaigning, the Prime Minister, the biggest star campaigner of ruling BJP, left for two days meditation at the famed Vivekananda Rock Memorial here.   Swami Vivekananda is said to have attained enlightenment at this place. Modi notched up a total of 206 public outreach programs, including rallies and roadshows, since the Election Commission (EC) announced the poll schedule on March 16. The PM surpassed his nearly 145 public engagements during the 2019 polls by a significant margin. The campaign period this time was 76 days, compared to 68 days in the polls held five years ago. At 73, Modi was not only ahead of any other leader in terms of the sheer number of rallies and the distance he covered but also continued to be the biggest vote magnet for his party.

His comments, panned by critics and embraced by the BJP's ardent supporters, set the narratives of the election."

The Prime Minister also gave a total of 80 media interviews, averaging more than one daily since the polls began.

The campaigning saw BJP leaders led by Modi accusing the Congress and the INDIA Bloc of being corrupt, anti-Hindu and engaging in loot, appeasement and dynastic politics. The Opposition parties have been claiming that the BJP is anti-farmer, anti-youth and will change and scrap the Constitution if they win the elections.

For the Congress, Kharge and party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra led the campaign. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, out on interim bail in the excise policy case, also led an aggressive campaign for his party candidates along with Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.

In Punjab and Bihar, the stakes are high for the Badal clan and Lalu Prasad's daughter Misa Bharti who are in the fray to save the legacy of their families. The last phase of 57 parliamentary seats is crucial for the BJP as it does not want to leave anything to chance. It is also crucial for the opposition to restrict the BJP/NDA to less than 300 seats.

Data shows of the 57 seats, the BJP won 25 in both the 2014 and the 2019 elections, less than 50 percent.

This was amongst the worst phases of the BJP across the seven phases in 2019.

In phase seven, 28 seats go to polls in the Hindi heartland of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Himachal Pradesh. 13 seats will be polling in Punjab, and 15 in Bengal and Odisha combined. The BJP-led NDA swept the Hindi heartland states in 2019 winning 26 of the 30 on offer. It needs to maintain a winning streak without significant dents here. Congress won only three seats in 2014 and eight in 2019. Altogether, 24 seats are strongholds of different parties.

The Trinamool Congress and the BJP have eight strongholds each. The remaining eight strongholds belong to the Biju Janata Dal, the Congress, the Janata Dal (United), and the Shiromani Akali Dal.

Analysis of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls shows there are five clean sweep seats in the seventh phase where the victory margin was more than 35 per cent in the 2019 elections. These seats are Mandi, Hamirpur, Shimla, and Kangra in Himachal Pradesh; and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. The BJP won all five.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi won the Varanasi seat by a 45.2 per cent margin. In six seats, the contest was very tough in the last election. This is the third consecutive time Modi is seeking reelection, having twice been elected from Varanasi in 2014 and 2019.  People are now talking about the victory margin of Modi in Varanasi. 

In UP, the BJP is facing a stiff challenge from the INDIA Bloc, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress party alliance in the Purvanchal region. The Lalu family seeks to break the jinx in the Patliputra constituency as earlier RJD chief Lalu also suffered a defeat in 2009. RJD patriarch Lal Prasad failed to win from here in 2009. His daughter Misa lost in 2014 and 2019 elections. In the battle for Lalu pride this time, the family is being challenged by Modi who confidentially asked supporters to be ready with maner ladoos on June 4.

It's a head-to-head contest between the BJP and the RJD on the parliamentary seat of Pataliputra, with sitting MP Ram Kripal Yadav vying for a third consecutive term. In Punjab, Bhatinda, the last bastion of the Akali and the Badal family in Punjab,  Harsimrat Kaur, former Union Minister and wife of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, is fighting to save the family's borough. Though this is the first election being fought without the BJP and Prakash Singh Badal, most prominent face of the party, who died last year. Due to a multi cornered contest, Harsimrat is facing a tough time here.

Polling is scheduled in all 13 seats of Punjab and four of Himachal Pradesh, 13 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, nine in West Bengal, eight in Bihar, six in Odisha and three seats in Jharkhand besides Chandigarh. Modi is seeking a third consecutive term from Varanasi.

Voting is already over in 486 seats in 28 States and Union Territories. The turnout in the first six phases was 66.14 per cent, 66.71, 65.68, 69.16, 62.2 and 63.36 per cent respectively. Counting of votes will be taken up on June 4.

 

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