Port Wings, 22 May 2019:
Elections for the final phase (and seventh phase) of the Lok Sabha elections drew to a close on 19 May as voters cast their ballots for 59 seats spread over seven states.
Unlike the previous terms, this time, election witnessed campaigns and slogans seriously challenging the country’s inclusive political culture and the very social fabric. Several top politicians were banned from campaigning for several days because of religious attacks and spiteful counter-attacks.
In Uttar Pradesh, which is the most populous state with 80 seats in the Lok Sabha and very important for parties looking to win the national elections, witnessed severe verbal duels between electoral candidates.
In a political rally, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath raked up the religious identity issue and said that if the ruling Bharatiya Janata party’s opponents had “faith in Ali,” his followers “had faith in Bajrang Bali.” Yogi’s comments were a reaction to a speech by Bahujan Samaj Party Chief Mayawati, who had urged Muslims not to split their anti-BJP votes among different parties. With the Election Commission of India sensing the trouble of polarizing voters by these parties, both were banned from campaigning for a few days.
Again, a senior BJP leader and Minister Maneka Gandhi was also banned for two days after video footage showed her warning Muslims not to vote against her and that if she won office without their votes, she would think twice before helping them out.
And, Amit Shah, president of the BJP, seen close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, told in a rally in Assam state in April that if re-elected, the BJP would rid India of unauthorized migrants other than Hindus and Sikhs. The speech was seen as targeting illegal Muslim immigrants, mostly from Bangladesh.
With the last vote cast on 19 May and the mammoth exercise now officially over, the nation now awaits for the new government at the Centre that will be revealed on 23 May 2019 when the counting will happen. Till then, keep your fingers crossed.