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Close Contest in Early Trends: 10 Points

June 4, 2024
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New Delhi: Counting of votes for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, which will decide if Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes a comeback or a resurgent Opposition steals the show, has begun. NDA is ahead in very early trends.

Here are the Top 10 points in this big story:

  1. Voting was held for 543 Lok Sabha seats over seven phases, which ended on Saturday. The majority mark is 272. The counting of votes for assembly elections in two states, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, will take place today too.
  2. The BJP hopes to make big gains in Bengal, Odisha and the southern states, to offset any loss it may suffer in the north, where it is the dominant party. Other key battleground states are Maharashtra, Odisha, Karnataka, and Telangana.
  3. The campaign has been intense and drawn out, and the mood of the voters difficult to read in this election. Three exit polls have predicted a 400-plus score for the BJP-led NDA. The rest differ only in the margin of the NDA victory — conclusions the Opposition has trashed. Exit polls have always had mixed success in the country.
  4. As with every election, the BJP unleashed its formidable election machinery early, and launched a star-studded campaign that focussed on development, economy and a vision for the 100-year anniversary of Independence. Backing it up were the promises met — the scrapping of Article 370 and the construction of the Ayodhya Ram temple.
  5. The big difference was the Opposition’s offensive against the ruling coalition, a long way from the lack of cohesiveness of 2019.
  6. While the beginning was shaky and in parts, patchy — like the Congress versus Trinamool contest in Bengal and Congress versus AAP in Punjab — the narrative on a change in constitution and scrapping of reservation made an impact.
  7. Compared to 2019, the line-ups of the two sides have also changed, Maharashtra being the epicentre of the shake-up. NDA ally Shiv Sena walked out of the alliance and joined the Opposition ranks, splitting a few years later. Maharashtra powerhouse Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), split too and the Eknath Shinde and Ajit Pawar factions became part of the NDA.
  8. The election is being held in the shadow of allegations about the Central investigative agencies being used to target key leaders of the Opposition. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, arrested in the liquor policy case and out to campaign on interim bail, returned to jail yesterday.
  9. This year’s election has also bucked the trend of the last 10 years, owing to an absence of wave or public anger. What has been apparent in parts of the country is a sense of discontent over local issues including unemployment and inflation.
  10. Electronic Voting Machines, a key grouse of the Opposition, have received full support from the Supreme Court, which said a firm no to a return to ballot papers. The Opposition has questioned the security at EVM storage units. Amid polls, Opposition leader Supriya Sule alleged that CCTV cameras at an EVM strong room in Maharashtra was temporarily switched off. The Congress also alleged a mismatch of numbers in EVM units in Chhattisgarh.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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