With Rs 1 lakh crore spent, India's second longest election comes to an end

PM Modi had over 206 rallies/outreach programmes. On the other side, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi were involved in 107 and 108 public outreach programmes.
People seen standing in a queue to cast their votes at a polling station . (File Photo | PTI)
People seen standing in a queue to cast their votes at a polling station . (File Photo | PTI)

The voting in the Lok Sabha election, which was India's second longest and spread over 44 days from April 19 to June 1, has come to an end on Saturday. Only our inaugural parliamentary election that lasted for over four months was longer.

The seven-phase election had 969 million-odd eligible voters. The polling percentages though have been lower than in 2019 with factors such as the heat and lack of any overarching narrative or resentment being cited as reasons.

Some Rs 1 lakh crore was said to have been spent making it one of the most expensive elections ever in the world, rivalling the combined 2020 US elections.

That one stat highlighted how money has been flowing over and above the spending limits of Rs 75-95 lakh for each candidate.

These limits have been raised at least 30X times from the Rs 25,000 allowed per candidate during the first general election in 1951-52 to little avail. According to an estimate in 2019, nearly Rs 100 crore was spent per Lok Sabha constituency! The math remains to be done before we know how much higher it has been in 2024.

People seen standing in a queue to cast their votes at a polling station . (File Photo | PTI)
Lok Sabha Polls 2024: Looking back at stories from our first election

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had over 206 rallies/outreach programmes in this election campaign, which was way more than his nearly 145 such engagements five years ago. He also gave 80 interviews to the media before heading for his 45-hour-long meditation on Kanyakumari's Vivekananda rock.

On the other side, from the Congress, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi were involved in 107 and 108 public outreach programmes respectively.

The election saw officials from the Election Commission travel many kilometres across the sea to bring EVMs in remote corners of Lakshadweep and set up a lone booth in Banej, an isolated village in Gujarat's Gir Somnath district that has a lone voter in a temple priest.

Key takeaways from the campaign have been the fact that it has been a relatively silent election.

Prime Minister Modi has not towered like he did in the 2014 and 2019 elections, In fact, many including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, have criticised him for being divisive in his campaign speeches.

Many observers have said how the election outcomes might revolve around the issues that matter with local problems and caste permutations being seen as important.

The INDIA bloc campaign seemingly came to life after the first phase with the Prime Minister himself talking up his opponent's chances. As for the 'Ab ki baar 400 paar' slogan, it led to the opposition countering it with 'Samvidhan khatre main hai' (the Constitution is in danger).

Both the ruling NDA and Opposition are fancying their chances of forming the government.

They will only know their fate on results day on June 4. But before that we have the exit polls, a spectacle where pollsters try to play Guess the Prime Minister but which can at its best and its worst only serve to keep us in further suspended animation.

To inform and keep those of you who are interested, The New Indian Express though will be bringing you all the numbers that have been crunched by the various pollsters/media houses too.

Statutory warning: June 4 will only give the true verdict. Join us then for the final verdict and to see if PM Modi will return for the third time as he has promised and be able to implement the roadmap for the first 125 days as promised.

Or to see if Rahul Gandhi's "Bye, bye, Modiji" will trump. The Congress leader had famously delivered the same message in 2019 too. Will he get to have his wish granted finally?

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