Monday, May 20 2024 | Time 18:00 Hrs(IST)

LS phase 1: Polling begins across 21 states & UTs

LS phase 1: Polling begins across 21 states & UTs

New Delhi, April 19 (UNI) Voting started on Friday in 102 parliamentary constituencies across 21 states and union territories to elect members to the 18th Lok Sabha whose results will be out after 47 days and seven phases of polling.
A total of 16.63 crore voters are eligible to exercise their rights in the first phase between 7 am and 5 pm in most of the booths. India has in all 97 crore voters.
The Bharatiya Janata Party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a rare third term as the opposition INDI Alliance faces a herculean battle to dislodge the BJP-headed NDA, which is governing the county since 2014.
A total of 1,625 candidates are in fray as polling begins in 1.87 lakh polling stations.
Voting is being held in Naxal-infested Bastar that recently saw over 40 maoists being eliminated in major actions as well as in the ethnic violence-hit Manipur in the first phase which also includes 18 seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and 11 for Scheduled tribes.

Of the 21 states and union territories, polls will be over in 10 states in a single phase.
Polling will be held for all seats of Tamil Nadu (39), Mizoram (1), Nagaland (1), Puducherry (1), Sikkim (1), Lakshadweep (1) Uttarakhand (5), Arunachal Pradesh (2), Meghalaya (Shillong and Tura), and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (1).
There are two seats in Manipur (Inner and Outer) and one seat each in Tripura, Jammu and Kashmir (Udhampur) and Chhattisgarh (Bastar) also going to the hustings during the day, besides, 12 seats in Rajasthan, eight in Uttar Pradesh, six in Madhya Pradesh, five seats each in Assam and Maharashtra, four in Bihar, and three in West Bengal.
Simultaneously, assembly elections are also being held in Arunachal Pradesh (60 seats) and Sikkim (32 seats).
Arunachal Pradesh West and East Lok Sabha seats face elections alongside Assam’s five out of 14 – Kaziranga, Sonitpur, Lakhimpur, Dibrugarh, Jorhat.
Out of Bihar’s 40 seats, it is poll day in only four -- Jamui. Nawada, Gaya (SC) and Aurangabad.
The highly sensitive seat of Bastar, of the 11 Chhattisgarh parliamentary constituencies, will witness voting under heavy security as 11 contestants fight it out with polling timing staggered between 7 am to 3 am and few going upto 5 pm.
The key seat of Chhindwara along with five others - Sidhi, Shahdol ST, Jabalpur, Mandla ST and Balaghat - of the 29 Madhya Pradesh Lok Sabha constituencies will see poll battles.
The five Maharashtra parliamentary constituencies facing votes in the first phase are Ramtek, Nagpur, Bhandara–Gondiya, Gadchiroli – Chimur and Chandrapur.
Of the 25 Rajasthan seats in the lower house, 12 constituencies - Ganganagar, Bikaner, Churu, Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Jaipur Rural, Jaipur, Alwar, Bharatpur, Karauli-Dholpur, Dausa and Nagaur - are voting today.
Tamil Nadu’s all 39 Lok Sabha constituencies -- Tiruvallur SC, Chennai North, South and Central, Sriperumbudur, Kancheepuram SC, Arakkonam, Vellore, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Tiruvannamalai, Arani, Viluppuram SC, Kallakurichi, Salem, Namakkal, Erode, Tiruppur, Nilgiris SC, Coimbatore, Pollachi, Dindigul, Karur, Tiruchirappalli, Perambalur, Cuddalore, Chidambaram SC, Mayiladuthurai, Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Sivaganga, Madurai, Theni, Virudhunagar, Ramanathapuram, Thoothukkudi, Tenkasi SC, Tirunelveli, and Kanniyakumari are polling today.
While the DMK-led alliance is hopeful of repeating its 2019 performance, the BJP which had failed to open its account in 2019, has put all its might in the polls after stitching an alliance.
Similarly, all five Lok Sabha constituencies of Uttarakhand -- Tehri Garhwal, Garhwal, Almora SC, Nainital-Udhamsingh Nagar and Hardwar - are polling in the first phase.
Of the total 80 Uttar Pradesh parliamentary constituencies, the eight falling in the Jat and sugarcane belt are polling today. These are Saharanpur, Bijnor, Kairana, Muzaffarnagar, Nagina (reserved for Scheduled Castes), Moradabad, Rampur and Pilibhit located in nine districts of western Uttar Pradesh. A total of 80 candidates -- 73 men and seven women are in the fray.
It is likely to be a triangular contest between the ruling BJP, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in India’s most populous state.
The BJP has pitched its battle on development and the Ram temple in Ayodhya, while the opposition have raised farm bills and unemployment issues in the region.
Of its 42 Lok Sabha seats, West Bengal's Alipurduar, Cooch Behar, and Jalpaiguri are voting in phase one. Trinamool Congress and BJP candidates from local caste groups are battling it out over CAA as corruption dominates other issues.
Prominent candidates from the BJP who are contesting in the first phase of polling are union ministers Nitin Gadkari from Nagpur in Maharashtra, Kiren Rijiju from Arunachal Pradesh-West, Bhupendra Yadav from Alwar in Rajasthan, besides Anil Baluni from Garhwal, Uttarakhand and Jitin Prasada from Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh.
Gadkari, the Union Road and Transport Minister, aims for his third consecutive victory from Nagpur, having won by significant margins in 2014 and 2019. Rijiju is seeking reelection from Arunachal West, against former chief minister Nabam Tuki.
Union Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways Sarbanada Sonowal is contesting from Dibrugarh in Assam. In Muzaffarnagar, UP, it is Union Minister Sanjeev Baliyan.
In Rajasthan, Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal competes against former Congress minister Govind Ram Meghwal in Bikaner, and in Alwar district, Union minister Bhupendra Yadav faces Congress MLA Lalit Yadav for the seat previously held by Balak Nath. Jitendra Singh, a junior minister in PM Modi's cabinet, seeks a third term from Udhampur.

Congress' Gaurav Gogoi is trying his luck from Jorhat, Assam; Nakul Nath from Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh; Rahul Kaswan from Churu, Rajasthan, and Ve Vaithilingam from Puducherry.
Then there is DMK's Kanimozhi from Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu, RLP's Hanuman Beniwal from Nagaur, Rajasthan.
In the last Lok Sabha election of 2019 of the same 102 seats BJP had won 40; LJP two; Shiv Sena in one; NPF (1), NPP (1), NDPP (1), MNF (1), SKM (1), RLP (1) -- and it was not part of NDA then, besides AIADMK also 1 seat.
While the opposition and now the INDI alliance: Congress had 15 seats, DMK (24), BSP(3), CPI(M) had 2, CPI (2), SP (2), Muslim League, VCK and NCP had 1 each.

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