Across 72 constituencies in nine states, more than 12 crore voters will exercise their franchise on Monday during the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha election.
Voters will choose between 945 candidates. Elections will be held in five seats in Bihar, one in Jammu and Kashmir, three in Jharkhand, six in Madhya Pradesh, 17 in Maharashtra, six in Odisha, 13 in Rajasthan, 13 in Uttar Pradesh and eight in West Bengal.
The stakes are high for the ruling BJP and its allies as it had swept 56 of these seats in 2014, leaving just two for the Congress and the rest for other Opposition parties such as the Trinamool Congress (six) and the Biju Janata Dal (six).
In most constituencies, polling booths will be open between 7 am and 6 pm. More than 1.4 lakh polling booths have been set up across the country and special security arrangements have been made at sensitive booths.
Election in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP had cornered all but two of the total 54 seats in 2014, will begin in this phase. The Congress appeared to make a comeback, forming the governments in the states after last year's Assembly polls.
In all the six seats in Madhya Pradesh, a direct fight between the Congress and the BJP is on the cards. The state's new power centre is witnessing a unique father-son electoral show with Chief Minister Kamal Nath and his son Nakul in the fray, hoping to boost not just the Congress but also strike roots as deep as the tree from where this region takes its name.
While the chief minister, a nine-time MP from the area, is contesting an Assembly bypoll, Nakul Nath is hoping to get elected to the Lok Sabha from Chhindwara, named after the wild date palm tree known as Chhind.
In Uttar Pradesh, most of these 13 seats are seeing a direct fight between the BJP and SP-BSP alliance, with Kannauj being a matter of prestige for the SP. In 2014, the BJP won 12 of these 13 seats in the state. Only Kannauj, won by the Samajwadi Party, defied the Modi wave that year among them. Former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav's wife Dimple is seeking re-election from Kannauj.
The Congress has a good presence in at least three of the constituencies — Unnao (Annu Tandon), Farrukhabad (Salman Khurshid) and Kanpur (Sriprakash Jaiswal).
In West Bengal, all the eight seats, which are spread across four districts, will see a four-cornered contest between Trinamool Congress, BJP, Congress and the Left Front.
In Odisha, where the state's ruling BJD won all six seats, the BJP is making concerted efforts to bag a few seats. Prominent among the hopefuls include BJP national vice-president Baijayant Panda (Kendrapara). Polling will also be held in 41 Assembly seats in Odisha in this phase.
Among the popular leaders in the fray are Union Ministers Giriraj Singh, Subhash Bhamre, SS Ahluwalia and Babul Supriyo. All eyes will be on former students’ union leader and now CPI candidate Kanhaiya Kumar, who is contesting from Bihar’s Begusarai, will face Giriraj Singh in the constituency. Congress’ Milind Deora, Priya Dutt and Urmila Matondkar are among the notable candidates from Mumbai.
Following one of the most significant switch between camps, Panda will be contesting from Odisha’s Kendrapara on a BJP ticket, hoping to end the rule of the Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal in the state. “Special attention will be given on Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency and additional police force has been deployed,” Surendra Kumar, Chief Electoral Officer, Odisha told PTI.
In Maharashtra, a contest between Congress and BJP-Shiv Sena alliance will be seen, with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) seeking to claim victory in some constituencies too. In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP, Congress and SP-BSP-RJD alliance will be the main parties contesting.
Polling will also be held in Kulgam district, which is part of Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency. Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency is spread over four districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama with 16 assembly segments. The Lok Sabha polls to this constituency are being held in three phases due to security reasons.
Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases and the first three were held on 11, 18 and 23 April. The highest voter turnout so far was recorded in the first phase at 69.45 percent. The counting of votes will be done on 23 May.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Apr 29, 2019 00:26:21 IST