Voting in second phase of Indian general polls underway

Indian General Polls
Indian voters exercising their franchise in the second phase of crucial general polls. Photo Courtesy: PIB

Voting in the second phase of the Indian general elections is currently underway as people will be exercising their voting rights on Friday to elect their representatives across 88 seats.

With the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the key opposition Congress and its alliance partners exchanging barbs and heightening the political heat, the seats in this phase are located across 13 states and union territories in the country.

In the second phase, a total of 88 seats, including all 20 seats in Kerala, 14 in Karnataka, 13 in Rajasthan, eight each in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, six in Madhya Pradesh, five each in Assam and Bihar, three each in Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, and one each in Tripura, Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir will go to polls.

A total of 1,202 candidates are in the fray in the high-octane battle.

With weather conditions predicted to be within normal ranges, voters can cast their votes comfortably, the Election Commission said in a statement.

“For convenience for voters, meticulous arrangements have been made at all polling stations including facilities, to deal with hot weather conditions,” the polls body said.

The Election Commission has called upon voters to turn in greater numbers at polling stations and vote with responsibility and pride as the casting of ballots begins at 7 AM on Friday.

Interesting battles are lined up in this phase with some prominent personalities are in the fray, including Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad and Shashi Tharoor from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala.

Battles in Rajasthan in the second phase of polls include two union ministers, a former Assembly Speaker, and sons of two former chief ministers.

Actor-turned-politician Hema Malini is contesting from Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, while former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel is contesting from Rajnandgaon, DK Suresh from Bangalore Rural, and Tejasvi Surya from Bangalore South.

Over 16 lakh (1.6 million) polling officials have been deployed to register the votes of over 15.88 crore (158.8 million) people across 1.67 lakh (167,000) polling stations

Voters include 8.08 crore (80.8 million) males, 7.8 crore (78 million) females, and 5,929 third-gender electors of which 34.8 lakhs (3.48 million) are first-time voters. Additionally, there are 3.28 crore (32.8 million) young voters in the age group 20-29 years.

There are over 14.78 lakh (1.478 million) registered voters, who are 85 years old, 42,226 above 100 years and 14.7 lakh (1.47 million) PwDs (Persons with Disabilities) for phase 2, who have been provided the option to vote from the comfort of their homes.

As a part of the arrangement, three helicopters, four special trains, and nearly 80,000 vehicles have been deployed to ferry polling and security personnel. Webcasting will be done in more than 50 percent of the polling stations, along with the deployment of micro-observers in all polling stations. Webcasting is being done in over 1 lakh (100,000) polling stations.

Meanwhile, 251 observers (89 general observers, 53 police observers, 109 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 4,553 Flying Squads, 5,731 Static Surveillance Teams, 1,462 Video Surveillance Teams and 844 Video Viewing Teams are keeping surveillance round the clock to strictly and swiftly deal with any form of inducement of voters.

About 1,237 inter-state and 263 international border checkposts have been asked to maintain a strict vigil on any illicit flow of liquor, drugs, cash, and freebies. Strict surveillance has been kept at sea and air routes.

Voter awareness and facilitation measures have been further geared up for higher turnout of voters.

Assured minimum facilities like water, shed, toilets, ramps, volunteers, wheelchairs, and electricity are in place to ensure that every voter, including the elderly and persons with disabilities, can cast their vote with ease. Special attention has been given to measures to deal with hot weather conditions, the EC statement said.

Around 4,195 model polling stations are being set up across the 88 PCs with local themes. More than 4,100 Polling stations will be completely managed by women, including security staff and at over 640 Polling stations by PwDs.

Polling stations across all states and UTs, in this phase except Bihar and Kerala, have less than 1,000 average electors per polling station. Bihar has 1,008 while Kerala has 1,102 electors per polling station.

The first phase of voting for the seven-phased Lok Sabha election, the world’s largest electoral exercise, was held on April 19 in 102 constituencies across 21 states and UTs.

According to the Election Commission, the voter turnout was over 62 percent. The third phase of the general elections will be held on May 7. The results for all seven phases will be declared on June 4.

PM Narendra Modi urged voters to cast their votes

“Urging everyone in constituencies voting today, in the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections, to participate in record numbers. A high voter turnout strengthens our democracy. I especially urge our young voters and women voters to turn out in great numbers. Your vote is your voice!” Modi posted on X.