7-phase Lok Sabha polls finally ends today; The major problems during mega elections
New Delhi, May 19: The mega seven phase elections finally enter the last leg, and the mammoth polls spniing almost 40 days were largely peaceful barring stray violence and some technical glitches here and there. The sheer size of elections, touted as world's largest, can be imagined by the fact that about 900 million people above the age of 18 were eligible to cast their ballots at around one million polling stations.
The Election Commission of India which is responsible for holding polls ought to be lauded for their meticulous planning and execution of this gargantuan exercise. Its no mean feat. Apart from carrying out elections, there are a hundered other things that the poll body has to keep an eye on to ensure free and fair polling. The EC has to enforce Model Code of Conduct (MCC), make sure it is not violated, swing into action if it is, takje quick decisions regarding penalties for violating and constantly answer the parties who keep finding flaws in the way elections are being held.
India's historic first election in 1951-52 took three months to complete. Between 1962 and 1989, elections were completed in four to 10 days. The four-day elections in 1980 were the country's shortest ever, a BBC report said.
EC now now has enough experience to carry out polls, but problem is that new issues keep propping up everytime. The electoral rolls only increase year after year, and its a massive task in itself to maintain records. EC needs to be constantly vigilant as there would always be forces that would try to derail the democratic process. Elections are at the core of a thriving democracy.
Despite meticulous planning and hard work, there were issues during elections even this time around.
Violence especially in West Bengal:
Elections in West Bengal were held across all the seven phases and violence was witnessed in most of the phases. Every phase has had its own share of violence that was unleashed on and around the polling day. Murders, clashes, stonepelting, lathicharge, firing, arson, West Bengal witnessed all during Lok Sabha elections 2019.
When the rest of India has managed to have a relatively peaceful Lok Sabha election, West Bengal left everyone shocked. The violence in the state hit a crescendo during a roadshow by BJP President Amit Shah in Kolkata on May 15. Clashes broke out between TMC and BJP supporters and in the process the bust of famous reformist Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar (1820-1891), placed inside a college in his memory, was vandalised.
Ahead of the last phase of the marathon Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal, clashes broke out between BJP and Trinamool Congress workers in Bhatpara. Gunshots rang, bombs were hurled and two vehicles were set on fire in Bhatpara, around 40km from Kolkata, after a BJP leader Arjun Singh was allegedly shot at in the area. Two cars parked in the area were set ablaze.
The third phase of Lok Sabha 2019 election was held on April 23. Reportedly, in West Bengal's Murshidabad, a voter was hacked to death at a polling booth during a conflict between the Congress and Trinamool Congress parties. Few others were also injured in the clashes in some other parts of the state as polling was held in five different constituencies. Explosives were reportedly hurled outside a booth in Balurghat in West Bengal, the forces lathicharged a mob in Suti area of Jangipur. Reports of conflict were also noticed in the conflicting areas like Chopra and Islampur.
Clashes broke out in Asansol area of West Bengal hours later the fourth phase of the general election began on April 29. Violent clashes and political squabble shrouded the fourth phase. Major incidents that took place on this day were - BJP candidate and union leader Babul Supriyo's vehicle was reportedly vandalized outside a polling booth. According to report, places like Suri and Nalhati (Birbhum), Nanoor (Bolpur) and Barabani (Asansol) saw pitched battles between party workers involving sharp weapons and sticks.
The glitches in the Elctronic Zvoting machines were reported from more or less all states during all the phases. In some places the EVMs had to be replaced which delayed the polling. We must understand that EVMs are a sensitive equipment having microprocessor chips that can go awry in high tempratures and humidity.
In one particular incident in South Goa, the Election Commission had to replace EVMs at a booth in Cuncolim after it was found that the machine was adding votes to BJP's tally during a mandatory mock poll exercise. The matter was raised by Aam Aadmi Party's South Goa Lok Sabha seat candidate Elvis Gomes. The EVM-VVPAT machine came under heavy criticism by Opposition parties in the first two phases of polling. In Phase 3 too, instances of EVM glitches have been reported from Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Kerala and Bihar.
There were several reports of malfunctioning electronic voting machines in Delhi which during the sixth phase. Delhi Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh said 5.5% of the voting machines were replaced in the morning after mock polling. The poll panel added that 286 Voter Verified Value Added Paper Trail machines were changed in Delhi by 3 pm, PTI reported. As many as 61 ballot units and 35 control units were also changed due to technical problems.
Names missing from voter list:
There is nothing much that a voter can do if his name is missing in the voter list. These problems were also reported from many parts of the country. Incidents of sporadic violence and dysfunctional electronic voting machines (EM) were reported from different parts of Andhra Pradesh during the Lok Sabha polls.
In Telangana complaints from name deletions from electoral rolls were once again reported by citizens from different parts of Hyderabad and the state. A similar thing had happened during the assembly polls last year as well, when mass deletions were reported from across the state, prompting the chief electoral officer Rajat Kumar to apologize to the public.
Delhi's new voters' list has become a political battleground of sorts with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Saturday saying that its stand on 'mass deletion' of names from the electoral rolls had been vindicated. Arvind Kejriwal alleged that the BJP has got deleted 30 lakh votes, including 15 lakh of Purvanchalis.