EXPLAINER

India Lok Sabha election 2024 Phase 3: Who votes and what’s at stake?

Voters in 94 constituencies across 12 states and territories go to the polls on May 7, in the third of seven phases of the world’s largest election.

Video Duration 03 minutes 40 seconds 03:40By Al Jazeera StaffPublished On 6 May 20246 May 2024

Millions of Indians will cast their ballots on May 7 in the third phase of a seven-phase election, which will feature India’s powerful interior minister, a perfume baron and the scion of a former princely state.

Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-hand man, is seeking re-election from the city of Gandhinagar in Gujarat State.

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Meanwhile, Jyotiraditya Scindia, the minister of civil aviation and steel as well as the grandson of the last ruler of the princely state of Gwalior, is contesting from the city of Guna in Madhya Pradesh state while Badruddin Ajmal, the owner of the perfume brand Ajmal, is on the ballot from Dhubri in the northeastern state of Assam.

Voters will decide the fates of 1,351 candidates running for 94 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian Parliament. The constituencies are spread across 12 states and federally governed territories, with Gujarat, Modi’s home state, voting on 25 seats. Voters will not choose who will fill Gujarat’s Surat seat because the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate was declared the winner after all his opponents withdrew.

Below-average voter turnout, anti-Muslim hate speeches and allegations of Election Commission bias marked the first two phases on April 19 and 26 of the world’s largest-ever democratic exercise. About 969 million registered voters will vote in 543 parliamentary constituencies spread across 36 states and federally governed territories – called union territories.

A coalition of 26 parties called the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), led by the main opposition party, the Indian National Congress, is hoping to defeat the governing National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by Modi’s BJP. Opinion polls give Modi the advantage, with his personal popularity seemingly intact despite those surveyed counting inflation and a lack of jobs as growing concerns.

Who votes in Phase 3?

Voters from the following states and territories will cast their ballots for these constituencies in the third phase:

Karnataka: 14 of the southern state’s 28 seats

Gujarat: 25 of the western state’s 26 seats

Uttar Pradesh: 10 of the northern state’s 80 seats

Madhya Pradesh: nine of the central state’s 29 seats

Assam: four of the northeastern state’s 14 seats

Goa: both of the coastal state’s seats

Chhattisgarh: seven of the central state’s 11 seats

Bihar: five of the eastern state’s 40 seats

Maharashtra: 11 of the western state’s 48 seats

West Bengal: four of the eastern state’s 42 seats

Jammu and Kashmir: one of the union territory’s five seats

Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu: both of the union territory’s seats

What are some of the key constituencies?

Gandhinagar (Gujarat): Since 1989, the BJP has been a dominant player in the Gandhinagar constituency, which has been represented by party stalwarts such Lal Krishna Advani and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Advani, who took centre stage in national politics in the late 1980s for leading a divisive nationwide campaign to build a Hindu temple on the site of a mosque in Ayodhya, had won the seat six times before making way for Shah in 2019. Shah won by a margin of more than half a million votes. Modi inaugurated the Ayodhya temple in January.

Like his mentor Modi, Shah was a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist organisation that has influenced the BJP’s ideology and policies. Shah rose through the ranks to become BJP president, a post he quit after becoming the interior minister in 2019.

The 59-year-old is known for his Machiavellian style of politics among both supporters and opponents. Critics have accused him of orchestrating horse-trading to destabilise opposition-led governments. In 2010, he was jailed and barred from visiting his home state over alleged extrajudicial killings while he was state interior minister under then-Chief Minister Modi. He was subsequently cleared of the charges. Shah has consistently denied all charges against him, and has accused the opposition Congress Party – then in power federally – of targeting him in 2010 out of political vindictiveness.

Guna (Madhya Pradesh): Scindia is contesting from Guna. He represented Guna in parliament as a Congress Party member from 2002 to 2019. He lost the 2019 election as a Modi wave swept the country.

His father, Madhavrao Scindia (also a Congress stalwart), and grandmother Vijaya Raje Scindia represented the Guna and Gwalior seats – considered a Gwalior royal family pocket borough.

Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was considered close to the Gandhi family dynasty, which dominates the Congress Party, joined the BJP in 2020 in a shock move. He also served as a minister under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (2004-2019).

Vidisha (Madhya Pradesh): Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is contesting from Vidisha after two decades. He had won the seat four times and served as a federal minister before being anointed chief minister of this Hindi heartland state. He led the BJP to victory in state legislative elections in late 2023 but was asked by the party to hand the baton to a younger leader.

Vajpayee (1991) and former Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj (2009 and 2014) have also represented Vidisha, which has been a BJP bastion since 1984.

Dhubri (Assam): Ajmal is seeking a fourth term as a member of parliament from Dhubri, which borders Bangladesh. Muslims form more than two-thirds of the population of the constituency.

Ajmal founded his own party, the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF), in 2005 to fight for the rights of Muslims, who represent a third of the state’s population. Muslims have been called “foreigners” and “illegal” and face discrimination and harassment after xenophobic politics took root in the 1980s after the influx of Bangladeshi refugees in the 1970s.

Ajmal is among “the 500 most influential Muslims” of the world, according to a list compiled by the Jordan-based Royal Islamic Studies Centre. The Ajmal perfume brand, started by Ajmal’s father in the 1960s in Mumbai, has grown into a major perfume brand in the Middle East.

Dharwad, Shimoga, Haveri (Karnataka): These three constituencies in Karnataka, home to India’s $245bn IT industry, have been a BJP stronghold for the past two decades. Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi is seeking a fourth term from Dharwad, while former Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai is in the fray in Haveri.

Shimoga has been a bastion of the Yediyurappa political family with both former Chief Minister Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yediyurappa and his son Bookanakere Yeddyurappa Raghavendra representing it. But the BJP’s decision to field Raghavendra again has not gone down well with former Chief Minister KS Eshwarappa, who has decided to contest as an independent.

Eshwarappa, once a top BJP leader, has been expelled from the party for his defiance.

Adding glamour to the political slugfest in Shimoga is the entry of Kannada film superstar Shiva Rajkumar’s wife, Geetha Shivrajkumar, as a Congress candidate.

When does the voting start and end?

Voting will start at 7am (01:30 GMT) and end at 6pm (12:30 GMT). Voters already in the queue by the time polls close will get to vote even if that means keeping polling stations open longer.

Results are to be released on June 4.

Which parties rule the states that vote in Phase 3?

The BJP governs Assam, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
The BJP governs Maharashtra and Bihar in alliances.
Congress governs Karnataka.
The president appoints an administrator for Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
West Bengal is governed by the All India Trinamool Congress Party, a member of the INDIA alliance.
Jammu and Kashmir is governed directly from New Delhi. Its state legislature remains suspended.

Who won these Lok Sabha seats in 2019?

In the last Lok Sabha elections, Congress along with parties now affiliated with the INDIA alliance and those affiliated then with the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance won 12 of the 94 seats to be decided on May 7.
The BJP and parties affiliated with the NDA won 80 of the seats in 2019. The BJP also won Surat, where this year, the BJP’s Mukesh Dalal ran unopposed and has already been declared the winner.
One independent candidate won a seat in Assam in the 2019 elections.
Independent candidate Mohanbhai Sanjibhai Delkar was elected in the union territory constituency of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Delkar died on February 22, 2021. Kalaben Delker of the NDA-aligned Shiv Sena was elected in a by-election in 2021.

How much of India has voted so far?

The first and second phases of the Lok Sabha elections have already decided the fate of 190 MPs. In the first two phases, voting concluded for all seats in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep and Puducherry.

Voting has been concluded for most of Assam’s and half of Karnataka’s seats as of phase two.

Voting in Madhya Pradesh’s Betul seat has been moved from phase two to three after the death of candidate Ashok Bhalavi from the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Source: Al Jazeera