Here’s what the second phase of the Indian general election has in store for the 11 states polling today

A security personnel stands guard at a polling station as people wait in queue to cast vote during the second phase of Lok Sabha polls in Bihar's Katihar, on April 18, 2019IANS


As the second phase of the general election takes off in India, voters in 11 states and 1 union territory— West Bengal, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Manipur and Puducherry — were up early queuing up at the election booths.

Nearly 5 million people are eligible to vote in the state of West Bengal with a nearly equal distribution between men and women, albeit there are only 87 registered third-gender voters in the three constituencies going to vote in the state today today.

And Puducherry, while being a union territory, is home to nearly one million voters who have been facing increasing debt and a fall in social initiatives due to lower devolution of taxes from the central government.

A lot of voters and politicians are wondering if the second phase of polling will be marred with problems of EVM malfunctions and poll booth violence like evidenced during the first phase of the general election in India. Two incidents of poll booth violence have already been reported in West Bengal.

In Uttar Pradesh, four of the contesting politicians — Samajwadi Party’s Azam Khan, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Bahujan Samaj Party’s Mayawati — have been banned from campaigning by the Election Commission of India (ECI) for issuing controversial comments.

For Tamil Nadu, the days leading up to the election were a little chaotic after the Income Tax (IT) department seized over 1,350 kilograms of gold and nearly ₹14.8 million which was allegedly stashed to bribe voters.

Elections in Vellore, one of Tamil Nadu’s most-watched constituencies, were cancelled altogether after ₹1.05 million was found at Durai Murugan’s house, the father of Kathir Anand — a DMK candidate in the district. Another ₹115.3 was also found at Poonjolai Srinivasan’s cement godown, a known associate of Murugan.

Even Maharashtra hasn’t had an easy go of it with over 15,000 cases of alleged Model Code of Conduct violations registered since March 10.The Additional Chief Electoral Officer, Dilip Shinde, has stated that over 700,000 officers and employees of the states are involved in keeping elections in Maharashtra peaceful and efficient for the 10 seats of the state going to the polls today.

The enforcing departments (Income Tax and Police) also lodged total 15,095 FIRs against the offenders for violating the model code of conduct, with most of the cases pertaining to storage and distribution of illicit liquor, followed by possession of firearms.

Additional Chief Electoral Officer Dilip Shinde

If voters aren’t being bribed, then they’re being threatened. Kawasi Lakhma, a Congress minister from Chhattisgarh, has been telling voters that they vote against his party, the EVM machine will deliver an electric shock.

While Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu struggle with voter bribery issues, Bihar and Karnataka are more concerned with voter turnout. The city of Bengaluru — the Silicon Valley of India — in particular, has issues of voter turnout while Bihar’s brain drain means that a lot of its eligible millennial voters don’t actually live in the state anymore.

As Manipur goes to polls again, the Returning Officer (RO)The Returning Officer (RO) of the Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency, Haobam Rosita, has recommended that re-polling needs to take place at 19 of the polling stations from the first phase of the general elections in the state.

Among the many reasons that Rosita cites for repolling, the most disturbing is probably one of the constituencies showed that voter turnout in excess of 100% and that the polling booth for the Najang Village was put up at a non-designated location.

In order to keep disruptive elements from affecting the polls similarly, the west Indian states of West Bengal and Assam are increasing security in constituencies along the border — especially in districts classified as ‘vulnerable’ and ‘critical’.

And unfortunately, for Jammu and Kashmir, none of the contesting political parties are talking about the environmental issues which have a heavy bearing on the state’s water supply as well as its tourism industry, which has been suffering as more and more of the state’s green capital is being destroyed.

The third phase of the general election will kick off on April 23 covering 14 states — Assam, Goa, Karnataka, Odisha, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Bihar, Gujarat, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Daman and Diu, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra and West Bengal.

See also:
Over a ton of gold seized a day ahead of polls shows the depth of the rot in Tamil Nadu

Job losses will haunt Bengaluru, India’s Silicon Valley, as it goes to polls today

Tamil Nadu’s angry voters have a small oil field, a big highway, a medical entrance test, and a police shootout in mind
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