The summer temperature is catching up with the heat of campaign battles in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections. As the world largest democracy goes to polls on April 7, the mercury is set to cross 40°C in mainland India in the next 10 days.
Day temperature in electorally important Uttar Pradesh and Bihar -- total 120 seats in Lok Sabha -- is likely to touch 37-38°C when polling begins there from April 10. By the time the last phase of polling takes place on May 12, the temperature in these two states is likely to cross 40°C.
Varanasi -- the political epicenter of the elections with AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal and BJP’s PM pick Narendra Modi already set to fight a heated battle there – is expected to be around 37°C.
Voters in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, southern Chhattisgarh, southern Madhya Pradesh and interiors of Odisha -- all going to polls from April 10 – will likely have to bear 40°C heat as they stand in long queues to cast their ballot. Temperature in Andhra Pradesh, which goes to polls from April 17, may even pass 40°C.
Taking note, the Election Commission (EC) has asked poll officers to ensure adequate water and shade at polling booths on voting days.
“We have also told them to have air coolers for election officers on duty and people standing in queue,” an EC official said.
The parties and its leaders have taken note too. Modi, in his last few rallies, has thanked people for waiting to listen to him in the heat. Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and Nationalist Congress Party’s Sharad Pawar have appealed to their supporters to beat the heat and make sure to vote. The BJP unit in Madhya Pradesh has asked the EC to extend campaign timing to midnight, “as it would be difficult to campaign during hot hours,” said Vijesh Lunawat, a member of the party’s poll panel in the state.
Laxman Singh, Congress candidate from Vidisha in MP, seems unfazed. “It is hot and will become hotter in the coming days but this will in no way affect my campaigning,” he said.