Lok Sabha election 2024: Opposition questions Election Commission’s voting data for previous phases, all eyes on Phase 3 : The Tribune India

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Lok Sabha election 2024: Opposition questions Election Commission’s voting data for previous phases, all eyes on Phase 3

Opposition parties have questioned the ECI over “delay” in releasing data and “discrepancies” in voting percentage in the first two phases

Lok Sabha election 2024: Opposition questions Election Commission’s voting data for previous phases, all eyes on Phase 3

Wondering if the “delay” was an “attempt to doctor the final results”, Kharge urged INDIA bloc parties to “collectively, unitedly and unequivocally raise our voice." File Photo



Tribune Web Desk

Vibha Sharma

Chandigarh, May 7

The ongoing general elections in India received some help from Google with the search engine on Tuesday dedicating its doodle to the third phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha election.

The aim was to encourage people to vote.

As part of its ‘national icon’ initiative, the Election Commission of India (ECI) too has taken several initiatives like roping in celebrities to urge voters to cast their vote and spread awareness. Some corporate houses and brands have also pitched in with catchy slogans on the importance of voting.

As many as 93 Lok Sabha constituencies across the country voted in the third phase amid the sizzling heat and soaring temperatures, and all eyes are on the voting percentage that will be recorded at the end of the day by the ECI.

As per the ECI, 66.14 per cent and 66.71 per cent voters cast their franchise in the first and second phase, respectively. Compared to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections figures of 69.4 per cent and 69.2 per cent, there was a drop of 3.3 points in the first and 2.5 per cent in the second phase.

However, opposition parties have questioned the final voter turnout for the first two phases released on April 30, as many as 11 days after the first phase polling on April 19 and four days after the second phase on April 26.

“It is in public domain on how the ECI, perhaps for the first time in history, delayed the release of the final voting percentages of the first and second phase of the Lok Sabha elections,” said Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge.

Opposition questions EC

As 93 seats across 11 states and a Union Territory voted in the third phase, INDIA Bloc parties questioned the delay in releasing data for the voting percentage in the first two phases.

Wondering if the “delay” was an “attempt to doctor the final results”, Kharge urged INDIA bloc parties to “collectively, unitedly and unequivocally raise our voice against such discrepancies, for our only objective is to protect the culture of a vibrant Democracy and the Constitution”.

Kharge also questioned why the final voter turnout increased by 5.5 per cent from the conclusion of voting, at 7 pm on April 19, to the delayed release of voter turnout data on April 30. Similarly, for the second phase, there was an increase of around 5.74 percent from the conclusion of voting at 7 pm on April 26 to the delayed release of data four days later.

“The inordinate delay in the release of the final voting percentages for the first and second phases raises serious doubts on the quality of data. In my electoral life of 52 years, I have never witnessed such a high increment of voting percentages, in the final published data, that we now assume came from the later hours of voting on the polling days”, he said

Is the sizzling heat also affecting turnout?

Climate and local weather systems are playing an important role in the ongoing Indian elections, say weather experts. As an extreme heat wave sweeps across large parts of India during the ongoing election process, a pertinent question also is whether climate change will allow India to hold another election in the hot summer months in 2029. 

Among the reasons for rise in temperatures are the absence of pre-monsoon showers and thunderstorms. There is a cumulative countrywide deficit of 20 per cent pre-monsoon rainfall, scientists say, explaining that the effects of human-caused climate change will be intensified by El Niño because increased global temperatures are associated with increasing extreme weather events.

Therefore, coinciding effects of rising temperatures and El Niño are predicted to induce record-breaking spikes in global temperatures. “El Niño in 2015 led to 2016 being the hottest year on record, while the super El Niño in 2023 superseded the previous one as the warmest year,” they say.

According to IMD, the persistence of anticyclones over Oman and adjoining areas and parts of Peninsular India impacted the formation of any weather systems, therefore sea breeze was cut-off over eastern states of Odisha and West Bengal, leading to soaring temperatures.

April has already set new record-breaking trends with one of the longest spells of heat wave extending up to 15 days. The NOAA has warned that 2024 has a one-in-three chance of hitting even higher temperatures, and a 99 per cent chance that it would rank among the top five warmest years in human history.

As per former Chief Election Commisioner O P Rawat, there is a six-month window to hold Parliamentary elections. 

“For the current tenure, elections had to be held between December 17, 2023 and June 16, 2024. However, since state assembly elections were scheduled in November and December, Parliamentary elections are usually conducted after a gap of at least two-three months. Therefore, union elections 2024 were announced in March,” he explains

However, to avoid such a situation in future, the election commission must call for an all-party meet where it can collectively agree on delaying the state elections by two months and hold the Parliamentary elections during the six-month window, he says.

“Now for the next general elections in 2029, the window falls between January 1 and June 30. Spring season (February and March) is the best time to hold the elections. Or else, there should be an amendment in the law that empowers the EC to conduct a state assembly election a little earlier,” he adds. 

About The Author

The Tribune Web Desk brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune Wed Desk for not just breaking news stories but wide-ranging coverage of events.

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