“Helps Parties With Deeper Pockets”: Opposition Questions 7-Phase Election

'Helps Parties With Deeper Pockets': Opposition Questions 7-Phase Election

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said the 2024 elections will open the door of Nyay (justice) for India.

New Delhi:

After the Election Commission declared that the Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases between April 19 and June 1, opposition parties have welcomed the announcement, but some have pointed out that the spread-out polling process is likely to benefit the BJP. The Congress has also asserted that the upcoming polls will be the last chance to save democracy.

The Trinamool Congress has also said the poll body did not take into account the West Bengal government’s suggestion of holding the elections in one or two phases. It said that the seven-phase polling in the state once again will help “parties with deeper pockets”. 

The 44-day voting period will be the second-longest after the first Lok Sabha election in 1951-52, which was spread out over four months. 

In a post on X on Saturday, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge said the 2024 elections will open the door of Nyay (justice) for India, a reference to the party’s schemes for various sections of society.

“2024 Lok Sabha elections will open the ‘Door of NYAY’ for India. This would be perhaps the last chance to save Democracy and our Constitution from Dictatorship. ‘We the people of India’ will together fight against hatred, loot, unemployment, price rise and atrocities,” he posted.

Speaking to reporters later, Mr Kharge said a seven-phase election means that “Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to tour everywhere” and it could have been completed in three or four phases. 

“We are not anxious about what is going to happen, but Modiji putting seven phases, it means that he wants to tour everywhere. In this country, I have also contested nearly 12 elections and there hardly used to be four phases. Sometimes it used to be even one phase,” news agency PTI quoted him as saying. 

Pointing out that nearly all development works will be stopped from Saturday because the model code of conduct will be in place, the Congress chief said, “…Stopping nearly 70-80 days, imagine how the country will progress? Because of the election code of conduct…materials will not be supplied. Budget will not be spent. So, according to me, this is not good. He could have completed within three or four phases.” 

Addressing a press conference, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said that these “milestone” elections are happening under “a cloud of scams” of electoral bonds, jailing, suspension and raiding of opposition parties and politicians, and freezing of funds of the main national opposition party.

‘Long Wait’

TKS Elangovan, spokesperson of the DMK, which is the opposition party with the second-highest number of Lok Sabha MPs, said waiting till June 4 for the results is something that the party will need to “prepare” for.

“We anticipated that Tamil Nadu will come in the first phase (on April 19), however, waiting till June 4, is one question that the party has to get prepared for,” he said.

The Trinamool Congress, which had said before the dates were announced that the elections should be held in one or two phases in West Bengal, said seven rounds of polling will help parties with deep pockets. 

“We wanted a single or twin phase Lok Sabha election in the state. Our views were that a multiple-phase election helps political parties with deeper pockets, and gives them an advantage over others,” Bengal Finance Minister Chandrima Bhattacharya was quoted as saying by PTI. 

“The 2021 assembly elections were held in eight phases and it was said that this was being done due to the pandemic. So now, what is the reason for holding elections in seven phases? There is no valid reason,” she said, adding that the Trinamool Congress hoped that the Election Commission would work in an “impartial” manner.

“The state government’s views were not taken into account. This is a disregard for the federal structure. We fail to understand the reasons for holding such a long election. This is quite surprising,” Trinamool Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Ray said.

‘Strengthen Our Hands’

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal made an appeal to the people to vote for his party. 

“The dates of Lok Sabha polls in the country have been declared. It’s a great festival of democracy. I appeal to all the countrymen to vote this time against dictatorship and hooliganism,” he said.

“The AAP works for real issues of the people and facilitates them. Strengthen our hands by voting on ‘jhaadu’ (broom, the AAP’s election symbol) wherever our candidates are contesting the polls, so that we can work for you with more energy,”  he added.

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut said the Maha Vikas Aghadi – a coalition of the Congress, NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar) and his party – is ready for the elections. “We only want the Election Commission to ensure free and fair polls… The MVA will announce its candidates after the rally in Mumbai tomorrow,” Mr Raut told PTI.

The Sharad Pawar faction of the NCP, however, questioned why the elections were being held in five phases in Maharashtra, which – at 48 – sends the second-highest number of MPs to the Lok Sabha. 

“Five phases in Maharashtra. What is the BJP trying to do? Is this fear or EVM?” Clyde Crasto, national spokesperson of the party, posted on X. 

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