India Goes To Poll

The first phase, with the highest number of parliamentary constituencies among all seven phases, witnesses polling in 21 states and Union Territories…reports Asian Lite News

Voting for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections 2024 began on Friday across 102 parliamentary constituencies spread over 21 states and Union Territories as the mega seven-phase electoral exercise commenced at 7:00 am.

Voters will exercise their franchise until 6:00 pm.

Polling for assembly elections in the north-eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim also started along with voting for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections on Friday morning.

Arunachal will be polling for two Lok Sabha seats and the 60-member Assembly. Apart from Arunachal, Sikkim will vote for 32 assembly seats and a lone Lok Sabha seat.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking his third consecutive term, while the opposition bloc-INDIA- a coalition of opposing parties formed to take on the BJP in the general elections, is eyeing ousting him from power.

The 2024 elections are taking place at a time when opposition leaders, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, have been arrested on charges of corruption in the liquor policy case.

The opposition has alleged that they have been denied a level playing field, a charge denied by the ruling BJP. The Congress party also alleged that income tax authorities froze their accounts weeks before the elections and blamed the ruling party at the Centre.

A total of 16.63 crore voters are going to vote in the first phase of Lok Sabha polls, deciding the fate of 1625 candidates, with Nitin Gadkari, Kiren Rijiju, Bhupendra Yadav, and Arjun Ram Meghwal among several Union ministers in the fray.

According to the data released by the Election Commission of India (ECI), a total of 1.87 lakh polling stations have been set up, while 18 lakh personnel have been deployed across the 102 constituencies going to the polls.

The first phase, with the highest number of parliamentary constituencies among all seven phases, will witness polling in 21 states and Union Territories.

An estimated 8.4 crore male voters, 8.23 crore female voters, and 11,371 third-gender electors are eligible to vote in the first phase of Lok Sabha polls, according to the ECI data. Key issues ranging from unemployment, violence against women, long-pending grievances of farmers, paper leaks, land rights issues of tribal people, and a rise in prices are among the most debated across the country.

A recent pre-poll survey by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) revealed that the foremost concerns for voters in India are price rises and unemployment. The plight of tea garden workers will have a say in Assam as estate workers demand better facilities and wages.

Reportedly, health and education are also among the major demands raised by the estate workers. Assam will be voting in five Lok Sabha seats in the first phase out of the 14 constituencies. Inflation, farmers’ issues, crimes against women, and paper leaks were among the most discussed in states including Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh, among others.

The pending full statehood took centre stage in the Union Territory of Puducherry.

Tamil Nadu has demanded the proposed AIIMS, an exception from the NEET examination, and flood relief while awaiting the final verdict at the people’s court.

Manipur, which has seen violence and ethnic divide for almost a year, is also voting today, with ECI making special arrangements for internally displaced voters. Ahead of polling, women perform puja outside polling booth number 16 in Imphal.

Manipur will hold two phases of elections for its parliamentary constituencies. The Inner Manipur constituency will go to the polls on April 19, while voting in the Outer Manipur constituency will be held for two days on April 19 and April 26.

Nine special polling stations have been set up for the internally displaced people near a relief camp in Imphal East.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has nominated Thounaojam Basanta Kumar Singh as its candidate for the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha seat, while the Indian National Congress has fielded Angomcha Bimol Akoijam.

Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep, and Puducherry will be voting in the first phase.

The north-eastern state of Nagaland faces numerous social and political challenges, including unemployment and inadequate healthcare facilities, as it prepares to vote for its sole seat.

Improved tourism management, long-pending demands of sugarcane farmers, and enhanced environmental protection policies are among some of the key demands from Uttarakhand.

Uttarakhand will be voting in five Lok Sabha seats. The economic woes of tea garden workers and Sandeshkhali are determining factors in West Bengal’s three-seat poll in the first phase.

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