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New Delhi: The world’s largest democracy has finally finished voting. As many as 900 million Indians were registered to vote for 543 members of parliament over seven phases. Sunday was the final phase of voting.
Exit poll results were also announced on Sunday evening, with pollsters all predicting a win for the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies.
Assuming India has had a free and fair election, where the electorate cast informed votes, India will have an honest result by May 23.
On Sunday, polls were held for 59 seats. The states which went to vote were Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Jharkhand. A total of 7.27 crore people cast their votes, including 3,377 voters of the third gender. West Bengal recorded the highest voting percentage of 73.51%, Bihar was lowest with 53.55%.
Saving the best for last- Varanasi, the constituency where prime minister Modi is seeking a second term, also voted today. Prominent names who were tested at the ballot included Ravi Shankar Prasad, Shatrughan Sinha, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Kirron Kher and Sunny Deol.
At least nine exit polls announced by TV channels say Modi gets a second chance
TV channels had an exciting day, with some anchors flying around in animated helicopters while announcing their exit poll estimates.
About nine polls began being announced from 6:30pm on Sunday. Every one of them has predicted a sizeable BJP win. This is despite the reams of political analysis that has said there is no “Modi-wave” this election and that there is in fact an anti-Modi undercurrent.
In the last general election in 2014, the BJP alone got 282 seats and the Congress got 44. BJP and its allies (known as the NDA) got 336 seats. Congress and its allies (the UPA) got 60 seats.
For this election, the NDA was given the most generous prediction by the News24-Chanakya poll, which said the NDA may win 340 seats out of 543. IndiaToday-AxisMyIndia gave a range in which the seats may fall, and that was also generous, predicting anything from 339 seats to 368 seats to the NDA. The lowest number of seats given to the BJP by any poll was by NewsNation, which says the NDA may get between 182 and 290 seats (that range is not very useful, because it’s a difference of 108 seats). The next lowest estimate in terms of number of NDA seats was from NewsX-MyNeta, which gave the NDA 242 seats.
UPA was given the most number of seats by NewsX-MyNeta, which has predicted 162 seats. The lowest number of seats predicted for the Congress is from News24-Chankya, which has estimated 70 seats.
Despite there not being a visible “wave” in this election, as there seemed to have been in 2014, the NDA is still being touted to win a similar number of seats in 2019. This is despite noteworthy gains made by the Congress, according to the same predictions.
Opposition parties complain against Modi’s ‘pollgrimage’
The Congress, Trinamool Congress and Telugu Desam Party have all written to the Election Commission against Modi’s decision to pray in Kedarnath.
Modi doesn’t seem bothered by the uproar over his decision on Saturday to “mediate alone,” in the presence of TV cameras, in Kedarnath – on Sunday, he went to offer prayers at Badrinath.
Congress MP Pradip Bhattacharya asked the EC to stop media coverage of Modi’s Kedarnath trip: “The way he (Modi) ensured media coverage of his trip to Kedarnath temple is nothing but a violation of MCC. His trip is all over the media. Is this not a way to directly and indirectly influence voters ahead of polls,” and “lt is absolutely unethical. Every minute detail of his activities during the visit is being widely publicised with an ulterior motive to influence voters directly and/or indirectly. This is wrong.”
The TMC also has written to the EC saying that Modi’s Kedarnath trip and his publicising of it was a violation of the Model Code of Conduct. “Even though the Election Campaign for the last phase of polling for 2019 Lok Sabha is over as long as back on 17th May, 2019 at 6 pm, surprisingly Shri Narendra Modi’s Kedarnath Yatra is being covered and widely televised for the last two days in all national as well as local media. This is a gross violation of the Model Code of Conduct.”
The letter went on to say: “Every minute detail of his activities during the visit is being widely publicised with an ulterior motive to influence voters directly and/or indirectly. ‘Modi Modi’ chants are also being heard from the background. All these moves are well calculated with the ill intention to influence the voters even on the date of poll. It is very unfortunate that the Election Commission, the highest body and the eyes and ears of the democratic process, remains blind and deaf to the gross violation of the MCC.”
And lastly, TDP also wrote to the EC against Modi’s Kedarnath visit. They said that the prime minister violated the Model Code of Conduct because he took journalists with him on his trip who then publicised it.
Free and fair, one can hope
The entire election period has been marred by suspicious incidents such as videos showing random people pressing buttons on EVMs when voters try to vote, as well as large amounts of money, liquor and narcotics which the EC and other agencies have been seizing.
This last phase was no different. In UP, locals accused the BJP of bribing them for votes with Rs 500 each. They said indelible ink was applied on their fingers by BJP members and they were told they couldn’t vote. A case has been reportedly registered.
In Punjab, a gun was fired inside a polling station. One person was injured. A police case has been registered here too.
In Bihar, “bogus voting” was apparently being done at a polling booth and a police officer on duty was allegedly attacked for trying to prevent this. Polling was also halted in one booth after two groups clashed.