The third phase of India’s general elections took place on Tuesday, April 23rd. There were 117 different constituencies that voted in this phase, along with thirteen states and two territories. The states that took part in this phase include Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Dadar and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu. This was the largest-scale phase out of the seven total phases, with 188 million voters eligible to vote. There was a 66% voter turnout. This phase also concluded the voting process for numerous states. Some of these states include Gujarat, Kerala, and Karnataka.
The results for Gujarat are of interest for many, especially because current Prime Minister Modi is from the state of Gujarat. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party won all of the state seats in the 2014 national election, showing the state’s previously unwavering support of Modi and his political party. However, there is uncertainty regarding whether history will repeat itself during this election. This election has seen BJP push their Hindu nationalist ideals further than before, while they try to curtain the opposition’s complaints of farm distress and grudging overall economic growth. Congress had a much stronger outcome than expected in the 2017 state elections, which may carry through to this year’s general elections. In Karnataka, the Congress Party was able to surpass the BJP to establish a coalition government last year. The results for this state are also being watched, as its unclear who will win majority after last year’s Congress victory.
There was some violence was a result of the elections, particularly in West Bengal. According to a Congress spokesperson, there were three people injured and one Congress worker killed as a result of a conflict with a regional party called the Trinamool Congress. This party has denied the accusations, but the Election Commission has started investigating the situation. There was also some issues with the electronic voting machines in the state of Kerala, but an Election Commission official stated that the issues were contained and replacement machines were used.
The fourth phase of voting took place on Monday, April 29th. There are seventy-two seats that are being voted on between nine states, and the voting states in this phase include Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Bengal. This will be the last leg of voting for Maharashtra and Odisha, while it will be the first cycle for Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand. In 2014, the BJP had only won forty-five seats out of these seventy-two seats. Many are interested in seeing whether this will occur again, or whether they will be able to win majority seats.
There was a 64% voter turnout for the fourth phase, compared to a 66% voter turnout in the third phase. The specific state voter turnouts include: 58.92% in Bihar, 9.79% in Jammu and Kashmir, 63.77% in Jharkhand, 66.52% in Madhya Pradesh, 55.88% in Maharashtra, 64.05% in Odisha, 66.44% in Rajasthan, 55.57% in Uttar Pradesh, and 76.59% in West Bengal.
As in the third phase, there were also complaints of issues with the electronic voting method in Maharashtra. The Congress Party made about thirty complaints to the Election Commission, and NCP’s state chief Jayant Patil made comments on whether these glitches were carried out deliberately by opposition parties. There was also more violence in West Bengal during the fourth phase of the elections, between BJP workers and Trinamool Congress Party workers. A BJP candidate for the Asansol District of West Bengal was attacked, allegedly at the hands of the regional party.
The next phase of the election will take place on May 6th, and the voting states include Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Bengal.
Voting for the sixth and seventh phases will take place on May 12 and May 19, respectively. The results will be released on May 23rd, determining which party will be at the forefront of Indian politics.