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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh transfer officials en masse ahead of Lok Sabha elections

Apart from the transfer postings industry, the services are now more and more politically inclined and are useful in the days ahead

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By Neeraj Mishra

Dates for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections will be announced tomorrow and the Model Code of Conduct will come into force. In anticipation of the code’s freeze on transfers, the newly elected governments of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have been reshuffling officers over the past two weeks. The Chhattisgarh government has effected more than 350 transfers of IAS, IPS, IFS and other top officers over two weeks while the Madhya Pradesh government has been slightly ahead with more than 500 transfers, 47 of them today.

This begs the question why do governments go in for such large scale transfers? An obvious reason is that they have just come to power in December 2023 and a number of changes are almost necessary with a new regime. The other reason is less obvious but more powerful. Transfer-posting is an industry in these states. Ever since the time of Arjun Singh, who discovered and established this industry in the 1980s, the transfer of government officials at all levels, from school teacher and constable to IAS, has been a money spinner.

When Singh was CM, there were very few industries in the undivided Madhya Pradesh. There were even fewer public works contracts to be doled out to supporters. Government jobs were too few to accommodate a very large supporter base in each district.

Singh made making instant money from transfer of government servants an easy source of revenue generation for party cadre. Government servants were the only ones with regular income besides some big businesses who could pay to avoid being uprooted. So a constable would pay to remain in a certain thana or district and a teacher would do the same to remain in her home. They could approach the local Congress office-bearers to either get themselves transferred to a good posting or remain home.

The same applied to higher officials, who became a secret source of donations. Subsequent governments have only refined these methods and discovered juicy districts and departments like Excise, Transport, Mining and PWD ever since.

How are transfers and elections connected?

State governments scramble to post officials of their choice in relevant places and districts where they think they may be of help. With the services now getting more and more politically inclined, it is a safe bet to assume what these officials are supposed to deliver. “In the poorer districts government officials from patwari and tehsildar to foresters hold great sway over public opinion. Sometimes they also provide funding for the candidates,” says Vinay Tripathi, a Congressman but speaking as a representative of the political class.

Though the Election Commission of India gets hold over all administrative transfers and postings for the  duration of elections, it transfers a minuscule number of officers only on complaints. State governments meanwhile have already got ample time to prepare themselves which may be unfair to the opposition but that’s how it is.

2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Voter turnout of 56.68% recorded till 5pm in 5th phase of Lok Sabha elections

Elections are being held in 49 constituencies across eight states and Union Territories in the fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections 2024.

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A voter turnout of 56.68 % was recorded in phase 5 till 5 pm as per the Election Commission’s Voter Turnout App, with the highest voting percentage in West Bengal (73 %) and the lowest in Maharashtra (48.66 %). Lok Sabha elections are taking place in 49 constituencies across 8 states and Union Territories in the 5th phase of Lok Sabha elections 2024.

Voter turnout of 56.68% was recorded till 5pm. The breakup is as follows: J&K: 54.21%, Bihar: 52.35%, Ladakh: 67.15%, Jharkhand: 61.90%, Maharashtra: 48.66%, UP: 55.80%, Odisha: 60.55% and West Bengal: 73%. The fate of 4 Union ministers, including Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani, as well as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will be decided in the ongoing Lok Sabha election. Former UP CM Mayawati, BJP’s Rae Bareli candidate Dinesh Pratep Singh, Smriti Irani were among the early voters today who cast their vote in the morning.

 The Lucknow East Lok Sabha seat will also hold a bypoll on the same day. The Lok Sabha seats which are participating in this phase include Rae Bareli, Mohanlalganj, Jalaun (SC), Amethi, Hamirpur, Jhansi, Banda, Kaushambi (SC), Fatehpur, Faizabad, Barabanki (SC), Gonda  and Kaisarganj. The candidates also include and minister of state of consumer affairs Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti (Fatehpur) and minister of state for housing and urban affairs Kaushal Kishor (Mohanlalganj). Rahul Gandhi is contesting from Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat which was previously held by his mother and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

 The total number of voters expected to cast their vote in this phase is over 2.68 crore voters, with 144 candidates looking for their support. 11 BJP incumbent Lok Sabha MPs are contesting in this phase, while nominating new candidates in Kaisarganj and Barabanki (SC) Lok Sabha seats.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

36.73% voter turnout recorded till 1 pm in 5th phase of the Lok Sabha elections

36.73% voter turnout recorded till 1 pm in 8 states and UTs; Maharashtra continues to put up a poor show

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Voter turnout at 1 pm was recorded at 36.73% for the 5th phase of the Lok Sabha elections. As this unfolds, significant political showdowns are set to take place across eight states and union territories. Bihar: 34.62%, Jharkhand: 41.89%, Jammu and Kashmir: 34.79%, Maharashtra 27.78%, Ladakh: 52.01%, Uttar Pradesh 39.55%, Odisha 35.31%, West Bengal: 48.41%

Voters in 49 Lok Sabha seats will decide the fate of 695 candidates, with many high-stakes contests featuring political dynasties and senior leaders striving to retain their influence. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is contesting from Raebareli, a seat held by his mother, Sonia Gandhi, since 2004. He is also contesting the election from Wayanad in Kerala. After losing Amethi to Union Minister Smriti Irani in 2019, the Congress has fielded dedicated worker KL Sharma to challenge Irani this time.

Rohini Acharya, daughter of former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, makes her political debut from Saran Lok Sabha seat. Chirag Paswan of the LJP (Ram Vilas) aims to retain the legacy of his late father, Ram Vilas Paswan from Hajipur Lok Sabha seat.

13 out of 48 parliamentary seats in Maharashtra are undergoing elections including high-profile candidates: Dindori: Union Minister Bharati Pravin Pawar (BJP) vs. Bhaskar Bhagare (NCP). Dhule: BJP’s Subhash Ramrao Bhamre vs. Congress’s Shobha Dinesh Bachhav.

Palghar: Hemant Vishnu Savara (BJP) vs. Bharti Kamadi (Shiv Sena UBT). Nashik: Rajabhau Waje (Shiv Sena UBT) vs. Godse Hemant Tukaram (Shiv Sena). This election phase will also serve as a crucial battleground for the factions of Shiv Sena to measure their support among voters.

In Ladakh, an independent candidate is posing a significant challenge to both BJP and Congress contenders. Simultaneous assembly and Lok Sabha polls are taking place in Odisha with the fifth phase, covering 5 Lok Sabha seats and 35 assembly constituencies. Voters in 3 parliamentary Lok Sabha seats — Chatra, Koderma, and Hazaribagh—will cast their votes in this phase.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

PM Modi visits Jagannath Temple, leads roadshow in Odisha

Ahead of the ongoing Lok Sabha election, PM Modi today visited Odisha and offered prayer at Jagannath temple

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Jagannath temple in Puri, Odissa, on Monday morning, and offered prayers before leading a significant roadshow to rally support for BJP candidates ahead of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

The roadshow commenced at Marichkote Square and concluded at Medical Square on Grand Road. State BJP president Manmohan Samal, BJP MP candidate Sambit Patra, and MLA nominee Jayanta Sarangi accompanied the Prime Minister.

Thousands of BJP supporters lined the barricaded Grand Road, waving BJP’s banners and posters. The event saw elaborate security arrangements to ensure the safety of the Prime Minister and the public, as confirmed by the local police.

The Prime Minister’s visit to Puri comes at a crucial time as the second phase of polling for five Lok Sabha constituencies and 35 assembly seats in Odisha is underway, with strict security measures in place.

PM Modi’s engagement in Puri included not just the temple visit and the roadshow but also a series of strategic campaign stops. After the roadshow, he was scheduled to depart by helicopter for Angul, where he would address a large public meeting. The Prime Minister’s day was set to continue with another poll rally in Cuttack, reflecting the BJP’s intensive campaign efforts in the state.

The roadshow in Puri had high energy and drew a big crowd. The BJP aims to strengthen its position in Odisha, where regional parties have been strong contenders. Modi’s active campaigning is meant to gather voter support and improve the party’s chances in both the Lok Sabha and assembly elections.

The roadshow route, from Marichkote Square to Medical Square, is an important road in Puri and has been packed with supporters since early morning. This event showed how strong the BJP’s campaign is and how Modi personally connects with voters.

With voting already happening, the Prime Minister’s visit is likely to influence how people feel about the election. It could help undecided voters make up their minds and boost the morale of BJP supporters in the state.

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