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Amidst heatwave, ECI shares biggest lesson from LS Elections 2024; says poll process should end before summer

Two days after voting in the seven-phase Lok Sabha Elections 2024 concluded, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar on Monday acknowledged that coping with the intense heatwave was a notable challenge during the polls.

Citing heatwave concerns, ECI announces plan to conclude future Lok Sabha Election process by April snt
First Published Jun 3, 2024, 3:41 PM IST

Two days after voting in the seven-phase Lok Sabha Elections 2024 concluded, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar on Monday acknowledged that coping with the intense heatwave was a notable challenge during the polls. He emphasized the necessity of completing the electoral process before the onset of summer, citing it as his primary takeaway.

During a press conference ahead of the June 4 vote counting day, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar stated that the decision comes in response to declining voter turnout due to severe heatwaves experienced in several states across the country. The commission highlighted that the 2029 Lok Sabha elections will adhere to this schedule to mitigate the impact of intense heat on voter participation.

Also read: Lok Sabha Elections 2024: India sets world record with 642 million voters; ECI gives standing ovation (WATCH)

"Biggest learning from elections is that poll process should be completed before summer," CEC Kumar said.

It's worth noting that the recent general elections commenced on April 19 and concluded on June 1, coinciding with a period of extreme heat in North, Central, and West India. Tragically, numerous polling staff deployed in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and other states succumbed to heat-related illnesses during this period.

During Monday's address, Kumar highlighted that the 2019 general elections witnessed a record-breaking voter turnout, with 64.2 crore voters, including 31.2 crore women, participating in the electoral process. He further noted the deployment of over 68,000 monitoring teams and 1.5 crore polling and security personnel, underscoring the monumental scale of the world's largest electoral exercise.

"We have created a world record of 642 million voters. This is a historic moment for all of us. This is 1.5 times the voters of all G7 countries and 2.5 times the voters of 27 countries in the European Union (EU). We thank each and everyone who took part in this festival of democracy. The Indian elections are indeed a miracle. Having no parallel in the world," Rajiv Kumar said.

"Due to the meticulous work of the election personnel, we ensured fewer repolls - we saw 39 repolls in Lok Sabha polls 2024 as opposed to 540 in 2019, and 25 out of 39 repolls were in 2 States only," he stated.

The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, marking its inaugural parliamentary elections post the abrogation of Article 370, recorded its most significant voter turnout in the past four decades. "Voter turnout in the state is the highest in the last four decades," Rajiv Kumar said while thanking the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Chief Election Commissioner highlighted that representatives from 23 countries visited India to observe the Lok Sabha elections. They were impressed by India's Electoral Marvel, commending its unmatched scale, precise planning, and integrity in executing the electoral process.

"4Ms: Identified, Confronted, and Tackled Muscle, Money, Misinformation and MCC Violations - impediments to free, fair, and transparent elections were addressed and responded to," he said.

CEC Kumar dares oppn to give proof of attempts to influence poll process

Kumar also dared the opposition to share evidence of allegations that returning officers and district magistrates were influenced to vitiate the poll process so the panel could take action against them.

Kumar, accompanied by Election Commissioners Gyanesh Kumar and S S Sandhu, emphasized that the opposition should inform the Commission about any attempts to influence the electoral process before the commencement of vote counting.

"You cannot spread a rumour and bring everyone under a cloud of suspicion," Kumar said.

Also read: LS Polls 2024: ECI assures robust counting process on June 4; how votes are counted & how to check results?

In an apparent dig at the opposition, Kumar highlighted that while the Commission had made arrangements to address any foreign attempts to influence the electoral process, the allegations of such interference have arisen domestically.

Taking exception to allegations that district magistrates were being influenced, the CEC said, "Those levelling allegations should say which DM was influenced and we will punish them. They should tell us before the counting process begins." 

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh alleged that Home Minister Amit Shah had engaged in "blatant and brazen" intimidation by contacting district magistrates and collectors, who serve as returning officers during elections. Ramesh further claimed that Shah had communicated with 150 district magistrates or collectors.

In response to a multi-party delegation's demands presented to the panel on Sunday, Kumar affirmed that all requests had been accepted. He emphasized that the issues raised were integral to the electoral process spanning seven decades.

"Some demands were made by a multi-party delegation. We have agreed to all the demands," Kumar said, indicating that most of the issues raised by the multi-party delegation were part of election manuals.

"This process has been going on for 70 years... We have instructed every RO/ARO. These are our orders and they are no joke… Everyone has been instructed to follow the handbook/manuals," Kumar said.

Kumar conceded that the Election Commission had fallen short in countering the mischievous narratives propagated during the electoral process.

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