Though the general elections in the country kicked off on 7 April, today is the first big polling day with Delhi, Chandigarh, and sections of Haryana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh going to polls. With threats of Maoist attacks in Bihar and terror threats in cities like Delhi, elaborate security arrangements have been made to make sure a hassle free polling day for voters across the country.
Here's a list of details on the key states which are going to poll today:
Considered the crown when Lok Sabha seats are concerned, Uttar Pradesh will join the big political battle on Thursday (10 April) as 10 of its 80 parliamentary constituencies will go for voting.
The ten constituencies which are going to vote today are Saharanpur, Kairana, Muzzafarnagar, Bijnor, Meerut, Bagpat, Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Bulandshahr and Aligarh. Of these, all eyes will be on Muzaffarnagar as it goes to polls after the devastating riots that left more than 50 people dead and several thousands displaced, living in refugee camps.
One of the 10 constituencies that are going to polls in Uttar Pradesh, Saharanpur's claim to fame was not for a right reason. The seat, which will witness the poll battle among 14 candidates, suddenly made headlines recently when a communally volatile video showing Congress candidate Imran Masood issuing open threats to Narendra Modi was leaked. In the video, Masood while addressing his supporters declared that Modi wouldn't dare repeat the Gujarat riots in Uttar Pradesh as he will be chopped into pieces.
Although the BJP cried foul over the incident, it will be interesting to see if Masood can retain the seat from Jagdish Singh Rana, who won the seat in the 2009 Lok Sabha election for the BSP. The BJP is fielding Raghav Lakhanpal from the seat this time around.
Read the complete Uttar Pradesh copy with details about all 10 constituencies here.
The Union Territory of Chandigarh goes to polls on Thursday in a three-sided battle between former Miss India Gul Panag (AAP), actor Kirron Kher (BJP) and former Railways Minister of the UPA Pawan Bansal.
Interestingly, both Kher and Panag, faced some amount of resistance by local party workers as they are not perceived as seasoned politicians and their respective parties also treat their chances of winning with some suspicion.
A day after the BJP declared Kher, an actress-turned-politician, as their candidate, party workers protested outside their office demanding the immediate withdrawal of her candidature. AAP workers were not impressed with Pagan's nomination by Manish Sisodia and questioned the idea of "fielding parachute candidates" much like other political parties.
Though there was not much internal strife about Pawan Bansal's nomination, the Railgate scam might have far-reaching repercussions in the polls.
Read more about Chandigarh here.
With new alliances and complicated caste equations, Bihar will possibly be one of the most interesting and most difficult-to-predict contests this year. The JD(U) has gone solo (ally CPI has not much clout in the state). Former Congress ally LJP led by Ramvilas Paswan has left the former in the cold and joined hands with the BJP in the state.
The Congress on the other hand has shook hands with Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD to fight this year's elections. Like in the rest of the country, opinion polls have suggested a sweep by the BJP-LJP team, however, the Congress-RJD alliance might too spring some surprises. However, it is Nitish Kumar's JD(U) which might be in rough waters this time in the true sense of the term.
In Sasaram, one of the six constituencies going into polls, eleven candidates are in the fray including Congress' candidate - outgoing Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar. Kumar's toughest competition is likely to be one of BJP's new recruits, Cheddi Paswan. Paswan, a former JD(U) leader had defeated Kumar on two occasions when he contested her in the Lok Sabha polls from Sasaram. This was in 1989 and 1991. Consequently, Kumar went on to contest elections in Uttar Pradesh, only to return to Bihar in 2004. Then, however, she didn't have to fight Paswan who had taken to contesting in the Assembly polls then.
Read more about all six constituencies here.
Haryana, a state with 10 Lok Sabha constituencies, goes to polls today. About 1.55 crore voters will decide the fate of 251 candidates in the fray. Like many other states in India, here too the Narendra Modi wave seems to have swept the voters, as the Congress lags behind. In the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections, the Congress had won nine seats. However, this time according to the Lokniti-CSDS pre-poll survey, the Congress will face a tough battle with the BJP-Haryana Janhit Congress alliance.
The chief minister of the state Bhupender Singh Hooda has found himself in the middle of many scams including land scams that also involve Robert Vadra, Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law. Caste based votes are crucial for the Congress, which is losing ground in the Jat heartland of Haryana.
In bad times, the leaders of Congress in the state are also abandoning the party. Stalwarts Rao Inderjit Singh, Ramesh Kaushik and Dharambir Singh have joined the BJP.
The AAP, as it is doing in Delhi, is eating into the votes of both the Congress and the BJP. However, it is doing more harm to the BJP than the Congress since, essentially, it is dividing the anti-Congress votes. These would have gone to the BJP otherwise. Given its proximity to Delhi, AAP was expected to perform well in Haryana.
The BJP is cashing in on Congress governments failure in the state and the anti-incumbency. The upper caste vote will also be directed towards the BJP, says the Lokniti-CSDS poll
Read more about the polling issues in Haryana here.
Of all the states going to poll today, all eyes will be on Delhi. The political landscape of Delhi, following the state polls, is already dotted with multiple conflicts. The AAP has a tough job ahead to explain Arvind Kejriwal's resignation and seek the city's mandate yet again. The Congress, as usual, is on a backfoot but might gain from the loss of confidence in the AAP. The BJP, as predicted in opinion polls everywhere, might still emerge as the bigger gainer in Delhi.
Delhi has seven constituencies, all of which are voting today.
The contest in the New Delhi constituency is most exciting. There's Congress heavyweight and current incumbent MP Ajay Maken. Taking him on is BJP's spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi. AAP has propped up journalist Ashish Khetan against Maken. It should be noted that New Delhi, which was considered a stronghold of Congress, gave the boot to former CM Sheila Dikshit, who lost by a spectacular margin of 25,864 votes to AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal.
Another constituency which has garnered immense interest is the Chandi Chowk constituecy. Union Minister Kapil Sibal, the current Congress MP, is up for re-election from this constituency. He's facing AAP leader Ashutosh, who was a journalist. Also in the race is Dr Harsh Vardhan, the man who would have been BJP's CM in the Delhi had the party won absolute majority and formed the government.
Read more about polling in Delhi here.