Lok Sabha Elections Phase 1: Controversies and Incidents
In this high stakes battle of 2019, some tactics have caused controversies while others have caused a reaction from society. There have been petitions and counter petitions which have become stories in their own right.
The first round of voting in the national elections took place on April 11th, kick-starting the seven phases. A total of 91 constituencies voted. Some untoward incidents did take place, marring the process.
Phase one of the national elections took place on April 11th, kick-starting the long process that will last two months, with voting taking place in 91 constituencies. The seven phase election process will conclude on May 19th while the results will be declared on May 12th.
However, while phase one of voting occurred more or less normally, several incidents and controversies transpired, which marred the process. Here is what happened in phase one:
Missing names from electoral rolls
Phase one of voting was marred by the fact that several names were missing from the electoral rolls. People turned up to the polling booth, only to find their names missing. Several people took to Twitter to complain about it. Prominent among them were Shobana Kamineni, vice chairperson of Apollo Hospitals, who tweeted that she found her name missing from the list at a polling booth in Hyderabad. Apart from her, Biocon chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw tweeted that her mother's name was deleted from the voter list.
There were several complaints about missing names across the 91 constituencies that went to vote. A number of people, from all walks of life, found their names missing from the rolls as well. In Uttar Pradesh, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) even alleged that a number of Dalits had been deleted from the rolls.
The Kairana constituency in West UP saw some trouble while voting took place. Security personnel at a polling booth in the constituency were deployed after several people turned up at a polling booth without proper identification. The polling booth was in Shamli. Police also had to baton charge the crowd.
The BSP alleged that the police turned away Dalit voters from the booth. In a statement, the party’s national general secretary, SC Misra, said that information received from several polling booths showed that BSP voters, especially Dalits, were stopped from reaching polling booths. Meanwhile, two Dalits came forward, saying that they had been prevented from voting. Ram Prasad and Rani Gautam from Shamli’s Naya Bazaar alleged that they were not allowed to cast their ballots, despite their names being on the voters list. They further accused the polling officers of “humiliating them”.
Violence in Andhra Pradesh
Polling in Andhra Pradesh was marred with violence, as multiple clashes broke out between workers of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and YSR Congress, across the state. One TDP leader was reportedly killed in the melee. Both Assembly and Parliamentary elections occurred simultaneously in the state.
TDP president and chief minister, N Chandrababu Naidu, wrote a letter to Andhra Pradesh director general of police, RP Thakur, stating that the polling agents of YSRCP were resorting to violence and obstructing the polling process. Naidu also alleged that at least 30% of the EVMs malfunctioned, and demanded re-polling in several areas. Meanwhile, a Jana Sena Party candidate, Madhusudan Gupta, was arrested after he threw an EVM on the ground, damaging it, at a polling station in Anantapur district.