With campaigning for the second phase of elections ending on April 16, 95 parliamentary constituencies — except Vellore and Tripura (east) — go to polls on April 18. The outcome of the second phase is crucial for the UPA alliance and will determine its momentum for the next phase of elections. The constituencies are spread over 12 states and a union territory. Besides 10 in Maharashtra, eight in Uttar Pradesh, five each in Assam, Bihar and Odisha, three each in Chhattisgarh and West Bengal; two in Jammu and Kashmir and one each in Manipur, Puducherry is going to polls.
Cases were registered on Wednesday (April 17), against 150 AMMK members for preventing a flying squad team from discharging its duty, with four people being arrested in this connection, police said. Authorities had conducted a search at a store in Theni Lok Sabha constituency on Tuesday night following inputs about suspected cash, during which police had to open fire in the air to disperse around 50 supporters of AMMK, who objected to the action.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on April 17 accused the income tax department of taking “autocratic and partial” action in Tamil Nadu in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections. A day after income tax sleuths along with poll flying squad carried out raids at the residence of DMK leader Kanimozhi at Tuticorin, Chidambaram in a series of tweets said the news was that nothing was found during searches in her residence. “How is it that tip off on opposition leaders alone is received (by officials),” he wondered in his tweet in Tamil. He also said, “The marker of the 2019 Parliamentary elections in Tamil Nadu is the income Tax department’s autocratic and partial steps.”
Against the backdrop of Income Tax raids on close aides of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, the opposition BJP says it would make corruption as the main plank of its campaign for the Lok Sabha polls. The ruling Congress in the state also says it will probe all scams that came to light during the previous BJP-led government. The Income-Tax Department last week said it detected a “widespread and well-organised” racket of collection of unaccounted cash of about ₹281 crore during raids against close aides of Nath and others. The Congress dubbed the searches as “pre-meditated and politically motivated”.
Kashmir is an integral part of India and it would continue to remain so as long as the BJP exists, party president Amit Shah said here on April 17. Shah’s remarks came at a poll rally, in response to National Conference leader Omar Abdullah’s recent suggestion of having a separate prime minister for Kashmir. “We will never allow two prime ministers in India,” Shah said responding to Omar Abdullah’s message on two Prime Ministers for the country. The Congress wants to separate Kashmir from India, he added.
In Bengaluru, it’s a straight fight between the BJP and the Congress. The grand old party, which was on the back foot until recently, has put up an intense fight, to revive itself, in the IT capital of India. The BJP, which has been holding all the three seats for two terms in a row, is still banking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to emerge victorious despite the initial enthusiasm having died down.
The first phase of voting in Karnataka for 14 Lok Sabha seats is crucial in more ways than one. It does not just test the efficacy of the Congress-Janata Dal(S) alliance but will also decide the future of Gowda’s GenX in politics. The 14 seats in the mostly southern and coastal regions are exactly half of the total 28 in the state. Though equal in terms of numbers the political significance of the constituencies going to polls in Karnataka’s first phase on May 18 outweighs that of the state’s second phase for the remaining seats on May 23. Of the 14 going for polling on Thursday, as of now six each are held by the Congress and the BJP while two are held by the JD(S).
The Election Commission announced postponement of polling in the Tripura (East) Lok Sabha seat to the third phase on April 23 from April 18, saying the prevailing law and order situation there is not conducive for holding free and fair polls. Citing reports of the state chief electoral officer and the special police observer, the poll panel said, “The law and order situation prevailing … is not conducive to the holding of free and fair poll.”