Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Campaigning for seventh and final phase ends


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New Delhi, May 30
The 75-day campaigning for the seven-phased Lok Sabha elections – the longest in Indian election history after the 1951-52 polls – ended on a combative note on Thurs-day with the ruling BJP-led NDA hoping for a record third term and the Opposition I.N.D.I.A. seeking to reverse its electoral misfortunes of the past ten years.
The seventh and last phase of polling will be held on Saturday for 57 seats in eight States and Union Territories, including in Varanasi where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking re-election. In these seats, BJP had bagged 25 in 2019 while the the Congress won eight and Trinamool Congress 9.
On the last day of campaigning, Modi addressed rallies in Punjab before heading to Kanyakumari where he will sit in a 48-hour long meditation. Rahul Gandhi addressed rallies in Punjab, while Congress pre-sident Mallikarjun Kharge held a press conference where he claimed I.N.D.I.A. will get majority on its own and would ensure the ouster of the Modi-Government.
All eyes will be on June 4 when the votes will be counted in all the 543 seats and one thing that will be of specific interest will be Congress’ performance, especially in north India where it is in a direct fight with the BJP. Also, BJP’s performance in West Bengal and Odisha as they are at a saturation point in some north Indian States.
While the BJP based their campaign on ‘Modi ki Guarantees’ and the Prime Minister’s personality, the Congress was betting on ‘Nyay Patra’ that talked about five ‘nyays’ and 25 guarantees targeting youth, farmers, workers and women.
The Congress and I.N.D.I.A. campaign centred around “saving” the Constitution and the country's democracy while claiming that the BJP’s ‘400 paar’ target was meant to get the mandate for rewriting the Constitution and end the quota regime. Opposition leaders claimed that their campaign had a resonance, especially among Dalits, tribals and OBCs.
For Rahul, a copy of the Constitution, which he displayed at rallies, was a constant companion, while Kharge warned people that if Modi is re-elected, then there will be no more elections. The Opposition also accused Modi and BJP of being silent on price rise and unemployment while promising to fill Government vacancies, create new jobs and scrap schemes like ‘Agnipath’.
Modi and the BJP countered the Opposition onslaught with the Prime Minister first seeking to link the Congress manifesto with the pre-partition Muslim League. In the second phase of election, Modi sought to target Congress saying it was going to snatch ‘mangalsutra’ of women, to claim that Congress is going to redistribute wealth to Muslims.
Political observers said there was a change in BJP campaign tone after the phase one poll and Modi told a rally that there will be no amendments to the Constitution. The BJP also sought to corner the Congress alleging that it was going to give reservation to Muslims by taking it away from SCs, STs and OBCs, a charge denied by the Opposition.
The campaign also saw the Election Commission receiving flak from the Opposition and activists over the delay in releasing the poll turnout data and not acting on complaints. On complaints of ‘hate speech’ by Modi, the EC asked BJP chief JP Nadda to ensure that party leaders do not indulge in “communal” campaigns while refusing to buy his arguments but did not take any action against the prime minister.
It also asked Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge to ensure that the party’s star campaigners not to give “false impression” of abolishing or selling the Constitution, make speeches that create “mutual hatred or cause tension” between religious oror linguistic communities or “potentially divisive statements” regarding the socio-economic composition of the armed forces.
Deccan Herald