First phase of polling in Indian general elections underway

Indian Lok Sabha vote underway
Glimpses of the preparations of the First Phase of Elections at Gadchiroli District, in Maharashtra on April 18, 2024. Photo Courtesy: PIB

Voting in the first phase of the Indian general elections across 102 parliamentary constituencies in 21 states and union territories commenced on Friday (April 19, 2024).

Out of the total 97 crore (970 million) voters, a total of 16.63 crore (166 million) voters are eligible to exercise their voting rights in the first phase between 7 am and 5 pm in most of the booths.

A total of 1,625 candidates are in the fray as polling begins in 1.87 lakh (187,000) polling stations.

Voting is being held in Naxal-infested Bastar in the Central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, that recently saw over 40 Maoists being eliminated in major actions, as well as in the ethnic violence-hit Manipur in the first phase, which also includes 18 seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and 11 for Scheduled tribes, Indian news agency UNI reported.

With the first phase of voting, polling will be over in 10 states.

Polling will be held in Tamil Nadu (39), Mizoram (1), Nagaland (1), Puducherry (1), Sikkim (1), Lakshadweep (1) Uttarakhand (5), Arunachal Pradesh (2), Meghalaya (Shillong and Tura), and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (1) in the first phase.

There are two seats in Manipur (Inner and Outer) and one seat each in Tripura, Jammu and Kashmir (Udhampur) and Chhattisgarh (Bastar) also going to the hustings during the day, besides, 12 seats in Rajasthan, eight in Uttar Pradesh, six in Madhya Pradesh, five seats each in Assam and Maharashtra, four in Bihar, and three in West Bengal.

Simultaneously, assembly elections are also being held in Arunachal Pradesh (60 seats) and Sikkim (32 seats).

Arunachal Pradesh West and East Lok Sabha seats face elections alongside Assam’s five out of 14 – Kaziranga, Sonitpur, Lakhimpur, Dibrugarh, Jorhat.

Out of Bihar’s 40 seats, it is poll day in only four — Jamui, Nawada, Gaya (SC) and Aurangabad.

Ensuring peace and purity

The Commission has taken a slew of decisive measures for peaceful and smooth conduct of the elections. Central forces have been deployed adequately at polling stations to secure the polling process.

Webcasting will be done in more than 50 percent of the polling stations along with the deployment of micro observers in all polling stations.

A total of 361 observers (127 general observers, 67 police observers, 167 expenditure observers) have already reached their constituencies days before the polls. They serve as the eyes and ears of the commission to exercise utmost vigilance. Additionally, special observers have been deployed in certain states.

A total of 4627 flying squads, 5208 statistics surveillance teams, 2028 video surveillance teams and 1255 video viewing teams are keeping surveillance round the clock to strictly and swiftly deal with any form of inducement of voters.

A total of 1374 inter-state and 162 international border check posts are keeping a strict vigil on any illicit flow of liquor, drugs, cash and freebies. Strict surveillance has been kept at sea and air routes.