The Lok Sabha election 2019, held in seven phases to elect 543 MPs from 29 states and 7 Union Territories (UTs) and elect the next Prime Minister, concluded on May 19. This election witnessed a number of the biggest controversies that became the hot topics in the political discourse amid the polls. From PM Modi’s ‘Bhrashtachari No. 1’ remark at former PM Rajiv Gandhi to BJP’s Bhopal candidate Sadhvi Pragya Thakur’s derogatory statement against 26/11 martyr Hemant Karkare, here are some of the biggest controversies to have been witnessed by the spectators amid the Lok Sabha elections 2019:
West Bengal witnessed huge violence during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls with the ruling Trinamool party led by CM Mamata Banerjee and BJP indulging into a blame-game over the clashes. The most significant incident broke out amid the roadshow of BJP chief Amit Shah in Kolkata, during which huge violent clashes broke out between BJP and Trinamool supporters. Amid the clashes, 19th-century social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s bust was also destroyed in the Kolkata college. In the aftermath of the controversy, the Election Commission suspended the campaigning in the state by 24 hours and banned the political parties from campaigning in nine constituencies in Bengal which went to polls in the last phase of the elections due to “growing incidents of disruption and violence” reducing the scheduled time. While this controversy garnered much attention in the political discourse, BJP also levied allegations against the Trinamool government of causing hurdles in campaigning in the state by denying permission for chopper landing to BJP chief Amit Shah and UP CM Yogi Adityanath.
Two days before the counting, 21 opposition parties, including the Congress and led by TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu, went to the Election Commission to raise questions over the validity of the EVMs. The parties had asked the poll body to match VVPATs before counting. However, the EC, dismissed all reports of EVMs being manipulated saying that all EVMs and voter verified paper audit trail machines (VVPAT) were sealed properly and stored in guarded strong rooms. Later on May 22, a day ahead of the counting of votes, Election Commission rejected the Opposition parties’ demand for the tallying of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips in five polling booths in each Assembly segment with the electronic voting machines (EVMs). Meanwhile, amid the controversy, the social media was abuzz with several videos of EVMs being stored and moved from one unauthorised storage house to another.
Rahul Gandhi’s guru and Indian Overseas Congress chief Sam Pitroda's insensitive remarks against the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, in which thousands of Sikhs were brutally killed, resulted in a huge controversy amid the Lok Sabha polls, following which his own party and Rahul Gandhi also distanced itself from him. While Sam Pitroda later justified his comment blaming on his “poor” Hindi. Far from apologising for his remarks, he went onto say “Move on” for his comments. Adding to the controversy, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s roadshow in Pathankot, Punjab, along with Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh was welcomed by ‘Hua To Hua’ posters and protest by the Sikh community.
Earlier in May, while addressing an election rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Partapgar, PM Modi made a “Bhrashtachari No. 1” (Corrupt no. 1) reference to his predecessor Rajiv Gandhi, while citing the Bofors scam. As the comment triggered a controversy, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and party’s General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi had hit out at PM Modi's remark. There were subsequent attacks by the Opposition party, with the Congress filing a complaint with the EC against the PM. Later, PM Modi stated that his statement was not personal 'insult' at someone's family member, but a deliberation on a former Prime Minister of India.
BJP fielded 2008 Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur from Bhopal and raised several eyebrows. While BJP was trying to defend her candidature, her explosive statements kept her under the zone of controversies. From calling Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a 'deshbhakt' to bragging about 'cursing' 26/11 martyr Hemant Karkare, her statement drew massive flak from not only the Opposition but also from the leaders of her own party. While she took to Twitter and issued an apology over her statement on Godse, the damage was already done. In the aftermath of the huge controversy over her remarks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his final elections 2019 interview to Republic Media Network condemned her and said that he won’t forgive her over her remarks on Godse.
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