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Phase 3 kicks off amid soaring temperatures

12:05 AM May 07, 2024 IST | SURINDER SINGH OBEROI
phase 3 kicks off amid soaring temperatures
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New Delhi, May 6: As the Lok Sabha polls progress into the third phase on Tuesday, May 7, voters and campaigners alike brace themselves for a formidable challenge: soaring temperatures amidst a scorching heat wave.

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This phase encompasses polling across 93 Lok Sabha constituencies spanning 11 states and union territories, with regions experiencing the peak of summer discomfort.

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The sweltering mid-May to mid-June period marks the height of summer woes, presenting a formidable obstacle to the electoral process.

The preceding phases on April 19 and April 26 witnessed a noticeable decline in voter turnout, attributed in part to the oppressive heat.

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Campaigners and participants in rallies find themselves grappling with the unforgiving weather conditions, prompting extensive arrangements for relief measures.

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In anticipation of the stifling heat, massive efforts are underway to ensure the well-being of voters and campaign personnel.

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Water provisions, cooling machines, and ample shades in the form of expansive tents and water coolers are being deployed to polling venues. In Delhi, where elections are scheduled for May 25, candidates are adapting their campaign strategies to the oppressive heat.

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They favour early morning or late evening rallies and focus on door-to-door interactions or small-scale meetings during the day to minimise exposure to high temperatures.

During a recent meeting at a district park in West Delhi, organisers went to great lengths to keep attendees cool.

Massive slabs of ice were placed in tubs filled with bottled water and cold drinks, which were distributed among morning walkers and guests. Mehta, a local organiser, who did not want to be identified by his first name, emphasised the importance of punctuality to prevent crowds from waiting in the heat for extended periods. On April 24 in Maharashtra, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari fainted on stage due to heat exhaustion while addressing an election rally. The ongoing election saga, spanning seven phases over 43 summer days, faces the formidable challenge of heat wave conditions.

States like Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal, which are integral to phase 3, grapple with soaring temperatures, further complicating the electoral landscape.

Acknowledging the heat wave’s impact on voter turnout, several political leaders highlighted it as a significant factor in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

With four more phases to go after the third phase on May 7, concerns persist regarding the potential influence of extreme heat on voter participation. In response to these challenges, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has convened multiple meetings to strategise and implement measures to mitigate heat wave risks during the remaining phases. Collaborating with meteorological authorities, disaster management agencies, and health ministries, proactive steps are being taken to ensure voter comfort and safety.

Special provisions have been mandated at polling stations to accommodate vulnerable demographics, including the elderly, women, and persons with disabilities (PWDs).

Elongated shades, ample drinking water, ORS supplies, and designated seating arrangements are being set up to alleviate the effects of the heat wave.

Additionally, the deployment of fans for both voters and poll personnel aims to enhance comfort levels amidst the challenging conditions. As thousands of polling personnel prepare to navigate the heat wave to facilitate the democratic process, the collective efforts of election authorities, security forces, and support staff strive to uphold the integrity and inclusivity of the electoral exercise. Despite the formidable challenges posed by soaring temperatures, the commitment to ensuring a smooth and accessible voting experience remains unwavering.

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