Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Heatwave & Wedding Season To Hamper Voting In Second Phase On April 26

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Heatwave & Wedding Season To Hamper Voting In Second Phase On April 26

Experts are unanimous in their opinion that unlike the 2014 ‘Modi Wave’ and 2019 ‘Tornedo of Nationalism’, as of today, the wave in favour of the BJP was missing during the first phase of polling.

KS TomarUpdated: Thursday, April 25, 2024, 12:42 PM IST
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Polling parties for the second phase of Lok Sabha elections 2024. | ECI

It was neither Hindutva upsurge nor any political party’s wave, but rather the heatwave embedded in wedding season dominated the first phase of polling on April 19 and the trend may continue during the rest five left-out phases ending on June 1 in those states that are witnessing an upward trend of mercury touching as high as 45 Celsius in a desert state like Rajasthan.

The second phase of polling will be held in 89 Lok Sabha seats and the MET department has predicted the heatwave conditions in over 30 seats besides affecting EVMs functioning which may be worrying to the Election Commission of India.

In view of the tradition and faith in propitious dates to solemnise the marriage ceremonies, the month of May is packed with auspicious days (Shubh Muhrat) including the 2nd, 4th, 8th,10th,11th,15th,16th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 27th, 29th, 30th and June 1st which will be followed by 5 months of inauspicious period extended up to November 2024.

According to astrologers, “Guru Uday” will commence from April 29 and people can organise the marriages in April and May which involves two dates of polling on May 20th (fifth phase) and June 1st (last phase of polling). They opine that “Kharmas” has ended on April 14th which is followed by a gap of 15 days of inauspicious days.

The Jupiter will be transitioning into Aries on April 29th, hence people will be able to organise auspicious events like Mundan of young ones, Grah Parvesh, foundation laying ceremonies, etc. Besides, marriages for a longer period.

They argue that April 2023 had been a bad period for marriage ceremonies due to the movement of Jupiter. It is an established fact that concerned families plan the wedding one year or more in advance, and their priorities may be accomplishments of such ceremonies rather than exercising their franchise. As per officials of the Election Commission Of India, dates for seven-phase polling have been finalised in view of these engagements and other important national and state-level functions but at times, fatigue may overrule the intent to vote in the next few days.

No Wave Of Any Party In Sight In 2024

Experts are unanimous in their opinion that unlike the 2014 ‘Modi Wave’ and 2019 ‘Tornedo of Nationalism’, as of today, the wave in favour of the BJP was missing during the first phase of polling though Prime Minister, Narendra Modi left no stone unturned in maintaining the momentum of the campaign to achieve the goal of ‘four hundred seats’ set by the alliance.

Politicians of various parties and polling officials were on the same page when they attributed the average decline of the overall percentage of polling to 62.37% to win viz., heat wave, and marriage season. Tamil Nadu with 39 seats witnessed 67.2% as against 72.4% in 2019 and Rajasthan also saw a downward trend of polling from 64% (2019) to 57.3% in 2024. But West Bengal recorded 72% and there was a fall of 3 to 4% in 102 seats which went to polling during the first phase of polling on April 19.

Turnout In Northeastern States

The BJP-dominated northeastern states witnessed high turnout, including Meghalaya at 74.5%, Manipur at 69.2%, Assam at 72.3%, Arunachal Pradesh at 67.7%, and the small state of Tripura at a whopping 80.6%.
BJP has got logic to get worried over the decline in voting percentage even in Rajasthan and MP where it is strong and governing both states.

Rajasthan may have an impact on farmers’ agitation besides the direct negative fallout of the Agniveer scheme. Experts say that while comparing the decline in voter turnout a notable decrease stands out in places like Ganganagar in Rajasthan, one of the central hubs for farm agitations, and Jhunjhunu, where a significant portion of aspiring youths have been expressing disillusionment with the Agnipath scheme.

For example, Siddhi in MP, known for its stark poverty, and Shahdol, having a dominant percentage of tribal and Dalits witnessed a polling of over 50%.  It will be premature to conclude about the fallout of the slide in percentage during the first phase of polling as the second phase outcome will be very important to analyse the future trend in the ensuing five phases of polling.

As per schedule, the remaining six phases will be completed in 43 days which include the 2nd phase for 89 seats on April 26th, the 3rd phase for 94 seats on May 7th, the 4th phase for 96 seats on May 13th, the 5th phase for 49 seats on May 20th, the 6th phase for 57 seats on May 25th, and final phase for 57 seats will be held on June 1st.

Observation Of Political Observers

Political observers say that the Modi wave swept in 2019 because voters were fed up with the corruption-ridden UPA government; hence, they wanted to get rid of it.

1st, Modi could exploit the aspirational sentiments of youths and promise to provide a corruption-free government but people might have been disappointed over the import of corrupt leaders from different parties mainly Congress by BJP which is at variance with the promise even after ten years of governance.

2nd, Pulwama killing of forty CRPF Jawans and Balakot air strike, a daring retaliatory action of the Indian Army, on Feb 26, 2019, on terror camps in Pakistan, had an electrifying impact on people in the country, thereby creating a tornado of Nationalism, besides other factors, in favour of BJP leading it win 303 seats. But now, such issues are absent, which may not elicit the same level of enthusiasm as in 2019.

3rd, extensive heat and wedding season may dampen the spirit of the voters during the rest of the six phases of polling.

International Observers Exclude Political Parties From America.

In an interesting development related to polls, the Indian government has invited 20 political parties from foreign countries to oversee the elections. However, reputed civil society institutions from the United States have been kept out, citing their own elections, which are 6 months away.

America had expressed concern over the arrests of the opposition leaders like Arvind Kejriwal which was described by India as an internal matter. Critics say that India does not want to take a chance; hence, parties from friendly nations including Nepal, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Uganda, Tanzania, Mauritius, etc., have been invited but not America.

Experts say that commentaries and analysts are attributing the reasons for the downward trend in polling percentage and the possibility of this phenomenon to persist in the rest of the phases to various factors but campaigning may pick up which may change the dynamics of politics and the outcome of the elections.

(Writer is a political analyst and senior journalist based in Shimla)

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