Campaign ends, over to result day on June 4

The concluding day saw frenetic campaigning with top leaders of the BJP-led NDA and the Opposition INDIA bloc making last-ditch efforts to woo voters.
Campaign ends, over to result day on June 4
illustration: Mandar pardikar

NEW DELHI: As the high-decibel campaigns for the seventh and final phase of Lok Sabha elections draw to a close on Thursday, all eyes are on verdict day on June 4, when the fate of the incumbent NDA government and the INDIA alliance will be decided. The last phase of polling will be held on June 1 for 57 seats across eight states and Union Territories.

The concluding day saw frenetic campaigning with top leaders of the BJP-led NDA and the Opposition INDIA bloc making last-ditch efforts to woo voters. While Prime Minister Modi held rallies in Punjab before heading to Kanyakumari for a three-day meditation trip, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressed rallies in Punjab, where 13 seats are up for grabs.

With the BJP and Opposition parties sharpening their campaign rhetoric, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge asserted on Thursday that an INDIA bloc government will be formed after June 4 and the PM face will be decided after reaching a consensus with the constituents of the alliance.

Political observers point out that the tone and tenor of the two-month-long electoral battle have undergone a drastic change since it began on April 19. Perceived to be a one-sided election at the beginning with the BJP-led NDA expected to win the third consecutive term, the INDIA bloc’s campaign gained momentum with burning issues such as unemployment, the burgeoning rich-poor divide, and inflation taking the centre stage. The Congress’ campaign primarily centred around its Nyay schemes.

The campaign has become more frenetic after the first phase of voting on April 19 with the PM targeting the Congress manifesto and its alleged appeasement of minorities.

Analysts point out that though the BJP began its campaign highlighting Viksit Bharat and other development initiatives, the lower voter turnout in the first three phases of polling may have forced it to change its tack. Observers say that the Opposition’s campaign around the ‘Constitution and social justice’ has given them an advantage, especially in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

The Opposition has been consistently attacking the BJP over statements by some of its leaders that they need to get the 400-plus majority to change the country’s Constitution.

While the BJP claimed that Congress will snatch reservations from SCs, STs and OBCs, to give it to Muslims, Congress leaders including Rahul Gandhi have made it a point to carry the pocket edition of the red book during their campaigns.

It may be the first time that the Election Commission faced severe criticism from the Opposition and civil society over the delay in releasing the poll turnout data and for acting in a biased manner.

In an unusual move, the Election Commission also wrote a strongly worded letter to Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge for criticising the EC over alleged “discrepancies in voter turnout data”.

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