The Election Commission on Sunday announced the dates for the 2019 General Elections. The polls will be held in seven phases, starting April 11 and ending May 19. The results will be declared on May 23.
Assembly elections for Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim will be held simultaneously. Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora did not announce the dates for the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly polls.
Here is how some English and Hindi newspapers reported the announcement of election dates.
The Hindustan Times front page said “Now Open: Election 2019”. “Mark the dates: Polling in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, results on May 23,” the strap added.
The lead copy highlighted comments by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Ahmed Patel, and gave the number of voters – 90 crore – who will be eligible to vote in these polls. It also gave space to the Election Commission’s attempt to regulate content on social media, and its claim that the time was not right to hold the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly polls.
The Times of India ran the headline “Tune In To India’s Mann ki Baat on May 23” – a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mann ki Baat radio show. The newspaper did a “SWOT analysis” of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress and the Third Front, assessing their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It also carried an opinion piece that said that the election was not merely about who would rule for the next five years, but a battle between “two ideas of the nation”.
The Indian Express’ headline was relatively simple – “Decision 2019: Dates are in”. The newspaper focused on statistics – the total number of voters, the number of first-time voters, polling stations, ballot units and voter-verified paper audit trail. The front page also ran news about the dissatisfaction of Jammu and Kashmir politicians with the delay in an announcement of the Assembly polls there.
One of its articles focused on farm distress and the decline in wages. Another talked about the Biju Janata Dal’s promise to provide 33% of its Lok Sabha tickets to women.
The Hindu’s front page headline was the simplest: “Lok Sabha polls from April 11 to May 19”. The daily carried a copy about bye-polls in 18 Assembly seats in Tamil Nadu.
The newspaper also bemoaned that a month would pass before voters in Kerala would be able to know the results of their casting the ballot, as the state goes to the polls on April 23, while the results will be declared on May 23.
Hindustan’s Delhi edition focused on the polling in the city on May 12. It also carried snippets about the seven phases of the elections, and the Assembly elections in four states. The front page carried a map of the seven-phase election, highlighting when the polls will be held in each state.
Dainik Jagran ran the headline “Matadata, ab Bharat Bhagya Vidhata [Voters: now the decider of India’s fate]”. The newspaper provided a break-up of the number of constituencies which would vote in each phase, the states in which these constituencies are located, and how many seats the Congress and the BJP (and their allies) had won in each state in 2014.
The daily’s front page also carried separate stories on the Congress’ claim that “truth shall triumph”, and Modi’s act of seeking blessings from the people ahead of the polls.
Dainik Bhaskar carried the headline “Satta Ke Saat Charan” – a reference to the seven phases of the elections, which would carry the victorious party to power. The daily talked about the increase in the number of voters from 2014, and said that in nine states comprising 332 seats, there would be a three-way contest.
The daily also carried a list of the dates on which polling would be held in each state.
Amar Ujala also carried a similar headline as Dainik Jagran – “Ab Bharat Bhagya Vidhata”. The newspaper focused on which constituencies would vote on which date, provided a short history of the last four elections, a list of the states with the five biggest electorates, and the news about the enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct.