The festival of democracy started on March 10 as Election commission announced the poll date. This time, the general elections will be held in seven phases starting from April 11 to May 19. Previously in 2014, there were total 9 phases. The results will be announced on May 23. Along with general election, Legislative elections will also be held in four states — Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Odisha.
States undergoing three phases are Assam and Chhattisgarh. Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Odisha will have four phases of polling. Jammu and Kashmir will have five phases and West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh will have seven phases.
In the first phase, 91 Parliamentary constituencies in 20 states and in the 2nd phase 97 Parliamentary constituencies in 13 states will go to polls. 115 constituencies in 14 states will go to polls in the third phase while 71 constituencies in 9 states will go to polls in 4th phase.
In the 5th phase, 51 constituencies in seven states and in the sixth phase 59 seats in 7 states will go to polls. In the last phase, 59 constituencies in 8 states will go to polls.
According to Election Commission, in 2014, 1709 political parties were registered with the Commission. Now, as on date, 2354 political parties are registered with the Commission. In 2014, 464 political parties contested elections.
This time election Commission has also increased the number of polling stations. There will be roughly 10,35,918 Polling Stations in the country as compared to approximately 9,28,000 Polling Stations set up during Lok Sabha election, 2014. This marks an increase of nearly 10.1% Polling Stations.
J&K is under governor rule since November 2018 and it was being expected that along with the parliamentary poll, the legislative election will also be held simultaneously in the state. But, due to security reasons, for the first time since 1996, the legislative election in J&K has been postponed. Only parliamentary election will be held in the state. On J&K legislative election, Election commission has stated that the requirement of central forces and other logistics for elections, the requirement of the security for the candidates and preparedness of the state for the election is the key factors. And owing to this state elections have been delayed.
Why West Bengal Parliamentary elections in seven phases?
In the wake of EC’ s announcement to conduct West Bengal parliamentary election in seven phases, political analysts are raising questions on this decision. However when one looks at various elections in the state conducted in past few years, it cannot be gainsaid that the free and fair election in the state has been a huge challenge due to political violence. In last year West Bengal Panchayat elections, on 34 per cent seats, there was no opposition against TMC because of alleged threats and muscle power. Even the Supreme Court observed that there were malpractices in these elections and called it ‘shocking’. On this issue, EX-Chief Justice of India (CJI), Deepak Mishra had to say that a few hundreds of seats went to polls unopposed can be understood, but here the numbers of seats are in thousands. Therefore, EC decision to conduct west Bengal elections in seven phases is appropriate seeing the current situation in the state.
Will 2019 election be different from 2014?
As election date has come out, all the political parties have started working on their poll campaigns and strategies to grab people’s attention. It’s loud and clears that 2019 General election will be Narendra Modi Vs opposition. However, this time also Narendra Modi led NDA is looking much stronger than the opposition.
In 2014 Parliamentary elections, when Narendra Modi emerged victories, then BJP was controlling only 8 states. But currently, BJP is ruling 16 states. Therefore, it is evident that it has expanded its footprint rapidly. The most significant thing is, in the last few years, BJP has gained momentum in north-east which is quite remarkable as it was earlier known as Hindi heartland party. As per the current data, BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) have total 27+ alliance partners which is more than Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA). It is worth mentioning that in last five years only Chandrababu Naidu led Telugu Desam Party and few marginal parties have withdrawn from NDA, or else BJP has got more alliance partners like All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) which will pave the way for BJP to increase its trail in South.
Even after 2014 election, BJP has got immense support in West Bengal, where top TMC leader Mukul Roy Joined the party in 2017 and recently expelled Trinamool Congress legislator Anupam Hazra, an MP from Bolpur, Congress MLA from Bagdah, Dulal Chandra Bar and Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA Khagen Murmy also joined BJP. It is being discussed that in absence of strong opposition, BJP has a golden opportunity to increase its tally in West Bengal.
Kerala has always been ruled by both Congress and Communist Party. But most recently Congress Party got huge setback when Sonia Gandhi’s Former Secretary Tom Vadakkan, who belongs to Kerala joined BJP and this induction of Vadakkan to BJP will surely be beneficial for the party.
Furthermore, In Odisha, recently BJD leader, Baijayant “Jay” Panda, the former member of Lok Sabha from Kendrapara constituency joined BJP and later on appointed as BJP’s vice-president as well as the spokesperson. And this Induction of Baijayant “Jay” Panda might be a game changer for BJP in Odisha.
The negative point of opposition is that it is still not united and suffering from a leadership crisis. There are numerous aspirants who want to be the Prime Minister which is not in the case with BJP. Therefore it is evident that BJP is looking more prepared than the opposition.
By – Ravi Mishra