Ninety-one constituencies go to the polls today across 18 states and 2 Union territories in Phase 1 of Lok Sabha Elections 2019. The Election Commission has done its bit—setting up polling booths with electronic voting machines (EVMs) and VVPATs, and putting in place adequate security for a safe and fair polling.

The rest of the nation will vote in six subsequent phases on 18 April, 23 April, 29 April, 6 May, 12 May and 19 May. Election Results 2019 will be out on 23 May, ushering in a new government. The first Lok Sabha elections took nearly four months; the current one will take two-and-a-half months from the date of announcement.

Here's what you need to know on the festival of democracy before stepping out to exercise your voting power.

The Mint Manifesto: The 10-point agenda for Lok Sabha Elections 2019

No spectre need loom over the country for citizens with common concerns to publish a manifesto, an agenda for action that might capture the popular will better than other options on offer.

The 2019 Lok Sabha elections, which many consider crucial to India’s future, are reason enough to venture such a grand—and fallible—set of proposals. This cannot be done without a glance at the ideals we began with, if only to see what aspects of our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s “tryst with destiny", his party’s pledge, are yet to be redeemed “in full measure". (read more)

Ahead of Phase 1 of Elections 2019, SC and EC orders put BJP on the backfoot

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government was put on the back foot on the eve of Lok Sabha elections, with the Supreme Court (SC) and the Election Commission passing orders against it in two separate cases on Wednesday.

While the apex court dismissed the government’s preliminary objections against a review petition filed in the Rafale fighter jet case, EC ordered a temporary ban on the screening of a biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (read more)

Elections 2019: Since 2014, what has PM Narendra Modi spoken about?

Strong oratory skills have always been associated with great leadership. Speeches have defined the legacy of prime ministers—from Jawaharlal Nehru to Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In more recent times, PM Narendra Modi has earned plaudits for his rousing rhetoric, in sharp contrast to his predecessor Manmohan Singh who was widely criticized for being a ‘silent’ PM. But are these reputations based on reality? (read more)

Why India needs more than just ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’

His connect with bharat ki ek sau pachchees crore janta (India’s 125 crore population) remains unparalleled, the tendency not to play on expected lines and set the agenda on his terms even more so. All this makes Prime Minister Narendra Modi a divisive yet charismatic figure. It wasn’t always like this, but now, “government" invariably means “Modi". That’s the halo the man has crafted for himself—and that carefully crafted halo could just be his undoing one day. (read more)

North-South, Urban-Rural: New divides of a New India

Over the weekend, the CSDS-Lokniti pre-poll survey once again reiterated the obvious: one of India’s most popular prime ministers, Narendra Modi, is deeply unpopular in South India. The levels of satisfaction with the Modi government in large parts of south India stretch deeply into negative territory (-39% in Tamil Nadu and Kerala).

No wonder then that the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (DMK’s) central campaign plank this time is: “Keep out Modi". And that seems to be enough. Denying Modi broader legitimacy is the popular sop of the season. N. Chandrababu Naidu has his own variant of that theme.

Irrespective of which party comes to power by the end of May, the southern frustration is not going to disappear any time soon. (read more)

Will ‘nation’ trump ‘kisan’ again this election season?

It was the spring of 2015. Farmers across several states had lost their wheat crop to unseasonal rains and hailstorms. In Uttar Pradesh, many farmers died of shock at the sight of their flattened fields. In Mathura, an old farmer told me: “In 1957, I was a student in 8th standard. Our English book had a chapter called ‘The Indian Farmer’. I still remember a line, but have only understood its full importance now: An Indian farmer is born in debt, lives in debt, and dies in debt."

This was less than a year after Narendra Modi had stormed to power in New Delhi riding on the promise of "achhe din" (good days) and "sabka saath sabka vikas" (development for all).

Between then and now, the distress in Indian agriculture has deepened, driven first by successive years of drought, followed by a collapse in crop prices. (read more)

How old and new narratives shape the basics for BJP in Maharashtra

Three things stand out about the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra. One, it is a new avatar of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that is seeking votes. Two, the dominant agenda is informed by old and new narratives. Three, 2019 Lok Sabha elections could be the last significant electoral battle for Maharashtra satrap and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar. (read more)

Vidarbha vote a litmus test for BJP-Shiv Sena on farm distress

The seven Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra that go to polls in the first phase on 11 April are key to gauging the impact of agrarian issues facing the country on the prospects of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the centre.

All the seven seats are in Vidarbha, one of the main regions of rural distress in Maharashtra, and were won by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena alliance in 2014. The constituencies include Nagpur, from where BJP stalwart Nitin Gadkari is seeking re-election against Congress nominee and former BJP MP Nana Patole, and Chandrapur where Union minister of state Hansraj Ahir of the BJP is contesting. (read more)

Election 2019: It’s PM Modi versus anyone-but-Modi

The 2019 Lok Sabha elections are unusual in some ways. For starters, it is probably for the first time in many years that a host of filmmakers, writers and theatre artistes have openly taken a political stance and asked voters to reject the politics of hate. In the last two weeks, hundreds of people from the world of film, theatre and literature have stuck their necks out and urged voters to choose wisely.

Over 600 theatre artistes issued an appeal “to safeguard the Constitution and our syncretic, secular ethos". Their note said: “We appeal to our fellow citizens to vote for love, compassion, for equality and social justice... Vote bigotry, hatred and apathy out of power." Nearly 200 writers made a similar appeal, while 100 filmmakers asked voters to “do everything in their capacity to keep this harmful regime from coming back to power".

These appeals, of course, cut no ice with diehard fans of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who are chanting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) slogan "Phir Ek Baar Modi Sarkar" (Modi government, once again). (read more)

Bastar goes to polls today amid Naxal threat, tight security

The electorate in the volatile ‘Red Corridor’ of Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region will cast their vote in the first phase of elections to the Lok Sabha on Thursday amid heightened tensions and a heavy blanket of security.

The region saw the latest Naxalite attack in Dantewada district on Tuesday that claimed the lives of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Bhima Mandavi and four state police personnel.

The elections to the one seat in Bastar, which is reserved for a scheduled tribe (ST) candidate, is being held against the backdrop of Naxalites also triggering an improvised explosive device (IED) in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district, the group’s stronghold in the Konkan belt, on Wednesday, injuring a jawan of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). (read more)

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