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Modi votes as India enters third phase of elections

The third phase of voting covers 93 seats in 11 states and territories, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Karnataka.

Modi displays his inked marked finger after casting his ballot on May 7. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

In the third phase of India’s general election, prime minister Narendra Modi cast his vote early on Tuesday, urging for a strong turnout despite the summer heat.

The voting process that began on April 19 will span seven phases till June 1, with nearly a billion eligible voters. The counting of votes will happen on June 4.

“I urge all citizens to vote in large numbers and celebrate the festival of democracy… To all those working in the heat, I urge you to take care of your health and drink adequate water,” he said after voting in Gujarat.

Modi voted in the Gandhinagar constituency where home minister Amit Shah, the BJP candidate, is contesting. Surrounded by supporters and party members, Modi engaged with the crowd before casting his ballot.

The campaign initially focused on Modi’s economic achievements and welfare measures but shifted to energising the BJP’s Hindu base.

In an interview with TV news channel Times Now, Modi said he does not oppose Islam or Muslims and wants the community to think about their future growth as they vote.

The third phase of voting covers 93 seats in 11 states and territories, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Karnataka, completing the voting process for 283 parliamentary seats. In the previous election, the BJP secured over 70 of the 93 seats up for grabs in this phase.

Voter turnout of 66.14 per cent and 66.71 per cent respectively in the first two phases has been marginally lower than corresponding phases five years back, with analysts blaming the summer heat and the lack of a single strong issue to motivate voters.

Despite slightly lower voter turnout compared to previous phases, the Election Commission is intensifying efforts to encourage voting, considering factors like summer heat.

“Weather conditions are predicted to be within normal ranges,” it said in a statement on the eve of the vote, calling on voters to “turn out in greater numbers at polling stations and vote with responsibility and pride”.

Various strategies, including voter awareness campaigns during cricket matches, social media alerts, and celebrity endorsements, aim to boost participation in the democratic process.

Over 1300 candidates, including around 120 women, are in the fray. Among the bigwigs are Union ministers Amit Shah (Gandhinagar), Jyotiraditya Scindia (Guna), Mansukh Mandaviya (Porbandar), Parshottam Rupala (Rajkot), Pralhad Joshi (Dharwad) and SP Singh Baghel (Agra).

Former Madhya Pradesh chief ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Vidisha) and Digvijaya Singh (Rajgarh) have also returned to the Lok Sabha electoral fray this time.

The fate of former Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai (Haveri) and Badruddin Ajmal (Dhubri) will also be decided today.

(Agencies)

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