Sun, 19 May 2024
The Daily Ittefaq

India election 2024: 59.7% Turnout Across 102 Seats Till 5 PM

Update : 19 Apr 2024, 19:27

Lok Sabha polls 2024 - billed by the BJP as a milestone to 2047 and the Opposition as a battle for democracy's survival - began today. In the first of the 7-phase exercise, voting is being held in 102 seats across 21 states and Union Territories.

The first phase of polls is being held on all seats of Tamil Nadu (39), Rajasthan (12), Uttar Pradesh (8), Madhya Pradesh (6), Uttarakhand (5), Arunachal Pradesh (2), Meghalaya (2), Andaman and Nicobar Islands (1), Mizoram (1), Nagaland (1), Puducherry (1), Sikkim (1) and Lakshadweep (1). Besides, there will be five seats each in Assam and Maharashtra, four in Bihar, three in West Bengal, two in Manipur, and one each in Tripura, Jammu and Kashmir, and Chhattisgarh.

Four states -- Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh -- will also pick new assemblies alongside this Lok Sabha election. Of these, Arunachal Pradesh (60 seats) and Sikkim (32) are first down.

At 5 pm, the recorded voting turnout was 59.7 per cent. Tamil Nadu had recorded 63.2 per cent turnout, Rajasthan 50.3 per cent, Uttar Pradesh 57.5 per cent and Madhya Pradesh 63.3 per cent. As for the state polls taking place alongside the general election, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh recorded 67.5 and 64.7 per cent turnout, respectively.   

In Bengal, Trinamool Congress and BJP workers clashed in Cooch Behar and accused each other of violence, intimidating voters and assault on poll agents, news agency PTI reported. The police denied any violence took place. In Manipur, a burst of gunfire was reported from a polling station in Bishnupur. In Imphal East district, a polling station was vandalised. In Tamil Nadu, two elderly people -- one a 77-year-old woman -- died at polling booths in Salem district.

Backed by a high-octane campaign led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, the BJP is aiming to win 370 of 543 Lok Sabha seats - a steep rise from its score of 2019. The Prime Minister has set the NDA a target of 400. In the last election, the NDA won 353 seats -- up by 5 per cent from 2014. The BJP won 303 seats.

The Opposition bloc INDIA, which mostly made headlines over its disarray in the run-up to the polls -- especially with the defection of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar -- has been standing together following the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the liquor policy case. Even so, in multiple pockets, the parties are up against each other, flouting the rule of one-on-one contests they guaranteed would push the BJP out.

The BJP is hoping to win 22 of the 25 seats in the northeast - an area it now dominates -- sweep the huge swathe of the Hindi heartland, Jammu in the north and Gujarat in the west. In Bengal, it is hoping to flourish at the cost of Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress and make further inroads in Odisha, even though the proposed alliance with Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal fell through.
In south -- once a fortress against all northern parties except the Congress -- the BJP is expecting to win big in Karnataka, which voted in a Congress government last year. With outreaches spearheaded by PM Modi, it is also hoping to make a dent in the Dravidian politics of Tamil Nadu. 

As insurance, it is piggybacking on a handful of smaller parties, including PMK of S Ramadoss. The Congress, pushed out of much of north India, insists it is on the cusp of a comeback. Senior leader KC Venugopal has said the party will post improved performance in most northern states - including the BJP bastions of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. With assembly poll victories in Telangana and Karnataka, and the alliance with DMK in Tamil Nadu, it projects huge confidence about the results in the south.

Eight Union ministers, two former chief ministers, one former governor and a number of key leaders are in the fray today, making for scintillating contests in more than 20 seats. Among them are Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Jitendra Singh, Kiren Rijiju, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Sanjiv Balyan, former Telangana governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, Congress's Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi and former Chief Minister of Assam Sarbananda Sonowal. The counting of votes will take place on June 4.

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