As PM Modi targets Congress, phase 2 campaign ends on a sour note

88 constituencies across 13 States are going to the polls on April 26; PM Modi continued his attack on the Opposition party on the last day of campaign; rebutting the allegations, Congress has filed a complaint with the Election Commission

April 24, 2024 10:23 pm | Updated May 01, 2024 02:56 pm IST - New Delhi

An aerial view of Palayam Junction in Kozhikode on April 24, 2024 afternoon during the ultimate showdown of the three major fronts before the Lok Sabha polls.

An aerial view of Palayam Junction in Kozhikode on April 24, 2024 afternoon during the ultimate showdown of the three major fronts before the Lok Sabha polls. | Photo Credit: K. Ragesh

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s controversial speech on the Congress party’s plans to “redistribute wealth” was the highlight of the high-voltage campaign for the second phase of the Lok Sabha election which ended on April 24.

A total of 88 seats across 13 States are up for grabs on April 26. All 20 seats of Kerala, 14 of the 28 seats in Karnataka, 13 seats in Rajasthan, eight seats each in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, six seats in Madhya Pradesh, five seats each in Assam and Bihar, three seats each in Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, and one seat each in Manipur, Tripura, and Jammu and Kashmir would go to polls.

Also read: 2024 Lok Sabha elections Phase 2 LIVE- May 1

Voting in Madhya Pradesh’s Betul seat, which was also scheduled on April 26, was shifted to the third phase on May 7 following the death of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Ashok Balawi.

Some of the prominent leaders in the fray are Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Shashi Tharoor, Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar, BJP’s Tejasvi Surya, and actor-turned politicians Hema Malini and Arun Govil.

The BJP has an edge having won 52 out of 88 seats in the last general election. Congress had won in 18 seats. Janata Dal (United) and Shiv Sena had won four each seats each while Muslim League had two wins, and BSP, Communist Party Of India (Marxist), Revolutionary Socialist Party, Kerala Congress (M) and Janata Dal (Secular) one each.

The high point of the campaign was the high-decibel attacks by Mr. Modi on the Congress’s manifesto at a rally in Banswara in Rajasthan.

Mr. Modi alleged on April 21 that the Opposition party was planning to give people’s hard-earned money and valuables to “infiltrators” and “those who have more children”. He claimed that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said in a speech in 2006 that Muslims had the first claim on the country’s resources.

The Congress on its part approached the Election Commission on April 22 and formally lodged a complaint seeking action against Mr. Modi. It alleged that the Prime Minister invoked religion and religious symbols to create enmity between groups.

“The only available remedy compatible with the principle of zero-tolerance towards allegations of corrupt practices, is the disqualification of the candidates who try to create a divide between different classes of the citizens of India regardless of the stature or position of that candidate,” the Congress complaint said.

However, the very next day on April 23, Mr. Modi again accused the Congress of planning to redistribute people’s property if voted to power, but stopped short of saying that the wealth would go to Muslims.

At a rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh which has a sizeable Muslim population, the PM said he wanted to alert people about the intentions of the Congress and the Opposition Indian National Developmental, Inclusive Alliance (INDIA).

The Prime Minister capped his poll rallies on Wednesday by pointing to remarks of Congress leader Sam Pitroda on “inheritance tax” and launching an all-out attack on the issue of “wealth redistribution” at Surguja in Chhattisgarh.

The Congress distanced itself from the comments of the U.S.-based president of its overseas wing.

After the second phase on April 26, voting will be over in Kerala, Rajasthan and Tripura. Polling has already been completed in Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Sikkim and Lakshadweep.

The general election is being held in seven phases. The first phase of the election was held on April 19 for 102 seats across 21 States and Union Territories and saw a voter turnout which was less than that of the 2019 election. The third phase of polling for 94 seats in 12 States and Union Territories will be held on May 7.

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