Lok Sabha Election 2019: The first phase of polls will decide the fate of 217 candidates
- Voting is on for first round of the seven-phased Lok Sabha election
- 91 seats across 18 states and two Union territories are voting
- The counting of votes will be held on May 23
Reports of Electronic Voting Machine malfunction, missing names from voters' list and sporadic violence in which two died in Andhra Pradesh, marked the first phase of voting in the mammoth, seven-phase exercise that began today to choose who rules the world's largest democracy for the next five years. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose BJP became the first party to gain majority on its own in three decades, is seeking a second term in power with promises of national security, development, farm relief and welfare measures. At the forefront of the opposition charge is a re-energised Congress led by Rahul Gandhi, who accuses the government of corruption and crony capitalism. Polling ends on May 19 and the results will be declared on May 23.
Here are the top 10 updates on Phase 1 of Lok Sabha Election 2019:
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Of the 545 seats in Lok Sabha, 91 seats spread across 18 states went to polls today. Lok Sabha has 545 seats, with a halfway mark of 272. Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Uttarakhand, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Telangana voted in a single phase. Voting is also being held in parts of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Manipur, Odisha, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
Sporadic violence was reported from Andhra Pradesh, where two workers, one of the Telugu Desam Party and the other of the YSR Congress, died after a clash in Anantapur. The Chief Election Officer of Andhra Pradesh has said 362 Electronic Voting Machines were malfunctioning.
IED blasts were reported from Maharashtra and the northeast, there has been no casualty. Voting, which was sluggish in the morning, has picked up. Polling in Uttar Pradesh has crossed the 50 per cent mark.
The alliance of bitter Uttar Pradesh rivals Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati was also tested. as polling was held in eight of the state's 80 seats. The key constituencies include Saharanpur, Kairana, Ghaziabad, Baghpat and Gautam Buddha Nagar in western UP.
Among the key leaders standing for election today are five Union Ministers - Nitin Gadkari (Nagpur), Kiren Rijiju (Arunachal West), General VK Singh (Ghaziabad), Satyapal Singh (Baghpat) and Mahesh Sharma (Gautam Buddha Nagar). Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh and his son Jayant Chaudhary were among the noted contestants.
The BJP manifesto, announced three days ahead of the election, promises around Rs. 20 lakh crore for the farm sector and rural development, lower taxes for the middle class and around Rs.100 lakh crore on infrastructure to create much-needed jobs.
The centerpiece of the Congress manifesto is what the party calls NYAY (Nyuntam Aay Yojana) - an ambitious scheme to provide a minimum basic income of Rs. 72,000 a year for three years to the poorest of the poor.
Opinion polls favour PM Modi even though he has been attacked by the opposition over the state of the economy, failure to create jobs and the crisis in the farm sector. There has also been criticism over the BJP-led government's failure to control the right-wing fringe groups and cow vigilantes that have gone on an overdrive, leading to multiple instances of mob killings across the country.
Over the last five years, the BJP, with a single-minded goal of "Congress-Mukt Bharat" has captured or consolidated power in 12 states, including all seven northeastern states, and Uttar Pradesh.
After a victory in Punjab and a strong fight in Gujarat - the home state of PM Modi - the Congress managed to keep the BJP out of power in Karnataka last year. In the last round of assembly polls in December, the party snatched the heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh from the BJP.