Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Lok Sabha elections phase 2: All that you need to know

Telangana polls

The 2024 general elections in India, often dubbed as the largest show of electoral democracy, enter into the second phase on Friday.

With around 969 million citizens on the voters list, which is more than the population of the United States, the European Union and Russia put together, India hosts the largest electorate in the world.

The two main alliances contesting the polls are the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),  and the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), a coalition of 28 parties led by the major opposition party Indian National Congress (INC), aimed at dethroning the Hindu nationalist BJP.

The first phase in the fight for 543 seats in the  Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, was concluded last week on April 19. With the final phase scheduled to take place on June 1, the results of the world’s biggest election will be announced on June 4.

In the second phase, which will begin tomorrow, elections will take place in 88 constituencies spread across 13 states.

Kerala: All 20 seats of the southern state

Karnataka: 14 of the southern state’s 28 seats

Maharashtra: Eight of the western state’s 48 seats

Madhya Pradesh: Six of the central state’s 29 seats

Rajasthan: 13 of the western state’s 25 seats

Uttar Pradesh: Eight of the northern state’s 80 seats

Bihar: Five of the eastern state’s 40 seats

West Bengal: Three of the eastern state’s 42 seats

Chhattisgarh: Three of the central state’s 11 seats

Tripura: One of the northeastern state’s two seats

Assam: Five of the northeastern state’s 14 seats

Manipur: Parts of  Outer Manipur, one of the northeastern state’s two seats, which voted in the first phase, will also vote on April 26.

Jammu and Kashmir: One of the (earlier state) union territory’s five seats

Brief analysis

Karnataka is currently governed by Congress.

A left-wing alliance, namely the Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), governs Kerala. The left alliance is part of the INDIA alliance at the national level.

All India Trinamool Congress (AITMC), supporting INDIA in Lok Sabha elections, heads the state government in West Bengal.

The rest are either directly or indirectly BJP-governed states.

Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are states with BJP governments.

In Bihar and Maharashtra, the saffron party controls governments through coalition.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, The BJP-led NDA won 62 of the 88 seats listed in the second phase.

Congress-led alliances United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala, secured 23 of the 88 constituencies that will vote on April 26. Most of the parties from the UPA now form the INDIA bloc.

Kerala, an arena of hand-to-hand battle between LDF (Left Democratic Front) and UDF (United Democratic Front) led by Congress with its long-time ally IUML (Indian Union Muslim League), is a safe stronghold for the INDIA alliance.

Karnataka Congress, with its rejuvenated spirit from last year’s victory in assembly elections, is looking to preserve the upper hand in the Lok Sabha polls. The state government’s performance, so far, is also a supportive element.

While Congress estimates suggest a landslide victory in Karnataka, conflicting poll attitudes between state and union elections are a common occurrence in the Indian scenario.

Following the same pattern, BJP’s vote share in its ruling states could also possibly decrease. Though it has popularised hate-centric politics among the Hindu majority, the discontent among the masses pertaining to issues like unemployment and poverty looms large in the scene.

Unfortunately, the unrest in Manipur seems to be far from achieving a solution through ballot. The first phase of polling was marred by widespread violence. Firing, booth capturing attempts, and destruction of EVMs have been reported from several polling stations in Manipur, disrupting the polling process.

Militant groups favouring the ruling BJP were leading those attacks.

This election marks an important moment in Kashmir, being the first major electoral process since the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019, after which, the region has been under the direct control of the Union government.

Due to disagreements over seat distribution, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), which emerged as a new political force in Kashmir following the NDA government’s revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution in 2019, collapsed shortly before the election.

However, the confidence in democracy, electoral processes & democratic institutions had seen a continuous decline in Kashmir since the 1980s as the Indian state failed to keep its promises to the Kashmiris.

The decision of 2019 has led to further mistrust among the public, adding to disinterest in the electoral process.

Bengal stays the Trinamool’s fortress, but it is hard to predict whether BJP would retain its gains from the previous election.

In Bihar, Nitish Kumar-led JD(U)’s sudden turn to BJP has not been received in good taste by the people. This might become helpful to the RJD-Congress-led grand alliance, a constituent of the INDIA alliance at the national level.

With NCP (Sharad Pawar) joining hands with Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray) and Congress, a strong front under the INDIA alliance has been formed against NDA.

So far, 102 constituencies in 21 states have voted. Voting in the second phase will start at 7 am tomorrow (Friday) and end at 6 pm.

The third phase will be held on May 7.

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