LS polls live: With 66% voter turnout, India sets new record
We track the latest developments as India goes to the polls.
7.34 pm: India sets a new record for voter turnout
As polling for the Lok Sabha polls came to a close, the Election Commission announced that the voter turnout had beaten the previous highest, NDTV reported.
The EC said that with 66.38 percent turnout, the turnout has surpassed the previous high of 64.01 percent registered in the 1984-85 election, when Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi came to power after his mother, then prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated.
Meanwhile, West Bengal, which had a huge 82 percent turnout in 2009, saw a small dip at 81.77 percent. The EC said that the figures released today were provisional and final figures may see a further hike in the number.
7.15 pm: Bihar voter turnout goes by 12 percent from 2009
The last phase of polling in Bihar saw a whopping increase in voter turnout--of about 12 percent when compared with the last LS polls. An average 56.67 percent of voters cast their votes in the last phase of polling which was held in six parliamentary constituencies of Bihar.
A maximum of 60 percent of voters cast their votes in West Champaran, followed by 57.5 percent voting in Vaishali, 57 percent in Valmikinagar, 56 percent each in Siwan and East Chamaparan and 54 percent in Gopalganj.-Firstpost's Manoj Kumar from Patna
6.05 pm: Murli Manohar Joshi defends Cong's Ajai Rai
BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi today snubbed party leaders making a big issue out of Congress Varanasi candidate Ajay Rai displaying the party symbol at a poll booth, saying it was a "small thing"
As BJP and AAP sought action against Rai for wearing his election symbol on his kurta, Joshi said, "For some people it (Rai wearing Congress symbol) may be a big thing. There is no big thing in that.
"Who doesn't know their (Congress) election symbol? Everybody takes hand with them, will you cut their hands? I feel that a party (BJP) which is winning with such a big margin should not look into these small things. It will not have an effect on a single vote," he said.
5.19 pm: 50% turnout in Varanasi by 5 pm, UP sees peaceful polling
Polling was likely to touch a new high at the end of the sixth phase of voting in Uttar Pradesh. At 5 pm the turn out was at an average of 47 percent with Varanasi witnessing a high figure of 50 percent. Voting is likely to continue till 6 pm.
No major incident was reported from anywhere.
Reports indicated that voting was influenced by communal polarization in many constituencies including Azamgarh.-Firstpost's Ratan Mani Lal from Lucknow
5.15 pm: EC issues notice to Ashok Chavan in paid news case
Election Commission issued notice to former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan in the paid news case and called him on 23 May for hearing.
EC also issued notice to former Jharkhand CM Madhu Koda for allegedly submitting incorrect account of election expenses and called him on the same date.
5.09 pm: Two women voters arrested for casting bogus votes in Bihar
Undeterred by scorching summer heat and threats by some leaders, a relatively huge numbers of voters cast their votes in the sixth and final round of the sixth-phase parliamentary elections in Bihar today.
A very interesting feature of today's polling was the arrest of two women voters who were found casting bogus votes at a booth in Vaishali parliamentary constituency.
An average 51 percent of voters had cast their votes till 4 pm in Bihar, much to the satisfaction of the poll panel which worked hard to create awareness among them about the voting rights.
A maximum of 54 percent voters cast their votes in Vaishali, followed by 53 percent each in Valmikinagar and east Chamaparan, 52 percent in west Champaran, 48 percent in Siwan and 45.74 in Gopalganj.-Firstpost's Manoj Kumar, Patna
4.24 pm: EC sends rejoinder to ET for news report claiming Irani may be disqualified
In a rejoinder to the Economic Times , the Election Commission said that the report claiming that BJP's Amethi candidate Smriti Irani may be disqualified had been "taken out of context" and is misleading.
EC has said that the report has used certain facts out of context and the expenses of all candidates will only be examined after the election results have been declared.
You can view the EC's rejoinder here.
4.07 pm: Smriti Irani may be disqualified for overspending
ANI reported that BJP's Amethi candidate Smriti Irani may be disqualified for overspending. Senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad was quoted as saying, "Heard Smriti Irani may be disqualified for overspending. No notice has been served."
3.47 pm: 44.75 percent turnout in Varanasi by 3 pm, 44.5 percent in Uttar Pradesh
By 3pm, 44.75 percent of Varanasi's electorate had cast their ballots. In West Bengal, turnout 67.34 percent turnout was recorded by 3 pm, 47.14 percent in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh saw a turnout of 44.5 percent, IBN Live reported.
In Uttar Pradesh, despite the searing heat there were people waiting at polling stations in Gorakhpur and Kushinagar where present MPs Yogi Adityanath and Union minister RPN Singh cast their votes a little before midday.
BJP leaders Kalraj Mishra and Jagdambika Pal also voted in Deoria and Domariaganj
The Election Commission ordered filing of an FIR against Ajay Rai in Varanasi for sporting the Congress symbol while going to vote.-Firstpost's Ratan Mani Lal in Lucknow.
3.17 pm: Narendra Modi will win by a huge margin, says BJP
The BJP organised a press conference to counter Congress' poll code violation allegations. While rubbishing most of their allegations, Ravi Sankar Prasad said that these were ploys to mislead voters. "Narendra Modi will win in Varanasi by a huge margin,"he declared.
2.40 pm: 35% voter turnout in Varanasi, 37% in Bihar
37.81 percent of the voters in Bihar came out to vote till 1pm this afternoon, while an overwhelming 56 percent of the electorate came out to vote in West Bengal till 1 pm.
In Uttar Pradesh, 29.20 percent cast their vote.
2.10 pm: Amid violence, 56.38% of West Bengal voters cast their vote
While violent clashes were reported between TMC and CPM party workers, crude bombs were found outside the residence of BJP MLA and former deputy Kolkata mayor Meena Devi Purohit. The bombs did not explode.
Average turnout in West Bengal till 1 pm was 56.38%. Berhampur 51.72 percent; Krishnanagar 57.37 percent; Ranaghat 55.50 percent; Bangaon 58.30 percent; Barrackpore 58.84 percent; Dumdum 53.30 percent; Barasat 56.98 percent; Basirhat 55.80 percent; Joynagar 54.25 percent.
2.00 pm: 'Whoever wins, it will be good for Benaras'
It is Varanasi's good fortune that such diggaj leaders are standing from here says Dr Anuradha Khanna gynaecologist head at BHU who came to vote with her husband Dr AK Khanna, surgery head. Their polling station, just steps away from Kejriwal's Durgakund residence.
Refusing to speculate about the fight, Anuradha Khanna said her duty was to be a good citizen. "Rest is in God's hands. I think whoever wins will be good for Benaras." - Firstpost's Sandip Roy
1.55 pm: Varanasi sees 30% voter turnout till 12.30 pm
Voting continued at a steady pace in all 18 seats in eastern Uttar Pradesh. The poll percentage crossed 30 in Varanasi by 12.30 pm.
The situation continued to be peaceful in all places. Complaints of missing names from electoral rolls caused heated discussions in many polling stations including those in Varanasi. - Ratan Mani Lal, Lucknow.
1.30 pm: Congress complains to EC over Modi's video message
The Congress today complained against BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi releasing a video message on social media, appealing to voters to come out and vote in Varanasi.
Congress's Ajay Maken said it was a clear violation of the model code of conduct and action must be taken against him. "How can the channels show Modi's speech today in violation of the code of conduct? Election Commission should take cognisance immediately."
In his video message, Modi had said: "Our democracy and traditions should become more pure. India, its citizens and democracy should win after these elections. "
"People from Varanasi should vote in huge numbers for sustaining democracy. We have to contribute to India's destiny," he said.
1.12 pm: Bihar sees 30.97% voter turnout till 12 pm
A legislator from Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD-U seriously assaulted some voters at a polling booth in Bihar today for daring to vote against the ruling party. The incident occurred at booth number 205 located at Basdila village in Gopalganj parliamentary constituency.
Media reports said JD-U legislator Amarendra Kumar Pandey alias Pappu Pandey who represents Kuchaikot seat in Bihar assembly had asked the voters of his constituency either to stay put in their home or vote for his party. Defying his diktat, however, some villagers came out of their homes to reach the nearby booth when in the meantime the legislator accosted the villagers and assaulted them badly, as a result of which some of them sustained severe injuries. His bodyguards also beat them mercilessly.
Of them, the condition of one of the victim is stated to be very critical. The victim who has been identified as Jayram Tiwari has been rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment. Senior police and administrative officials have rushed to the spot soon after getting the information. The said lawmaker is the brother of deeded gangster Satish Pandey now cooling his heels in the jail
Similarly, the angry voters created ruckus at another booth in the same parliamentary constituency after a group of influential persons forced the voters to vote for a particular party. Meanwhile, voting percentage touched 31 at 12 pm.
Gopalganj district located in north-eastern part of the state has given three chief ministers to Bihar - Abdul Ghafoor, Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi. - Firstpost correspondent Manoj Kumar, Patna
12.59 pm: Voters protests deletion of names for voting list
Around a hundred voters protested in Varanasi as they could not find their name on the electoral list. All eyes are on Varanasi as BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi is contesting against AAP's Arvind Kejriwal and Congress's Ajai Rai.
All parties expect voter turnout to be much higher than 2009's 43 percent.
12.55 pm: Modi, Kejriwal should come together against bhrashtachar
In 1942 BS Vajpayee took a bullet in his side for trying to throw stones at Kotwal's house in Varanasi.
Now 81, he still has the scar. He has since retired from BHU. "I am sorry to say honesty and sincerity are regarded as punishment in this country. I am hoping this election can make a difference and we can expect a better future but I personally feel Modi and Kejriwal should come together as one against bhrastachar and one for development. We need booth and that would be for the good of the country," he says. - Firspost editor Sandip Roy.
12.48 pm: 'If Kejriwal wasn't here, Rai would win by 50,000 votes'
If Arvind Kejriwal was not in the race I can tell you clearly Ajay Rai would win here by 40-50,000 votes says Govind Sharma, ward commissioner for Congress in Assi.
"Let me be clear. Kejriwal is only helping the BJP. He says there us some confusion becayse BJP has falsely created impression that people are choosing PM directly."
He also says of many Muslim committees the waqf committee led by Madani supported Kejriwal. While others have not announced their support to any particular candidate, Sharma claims that last night a group asked Muslims to support Rai. He says in the nine booths he is overseeing AAP is not much in evidence. - Firstpost editor Sandip Roy reports.
12.40 pm: EC must take action against Rai, it's clear violation, says BJP
While veteran BJP leader MM Joshi may have dismissed Ajai Rai's action as minor, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad demanded that action be taken against Rai for it was a clear violation of the RPA.
"He (Rai) wore the symbol beyond the 300 feet prohibited zone. Will the EC take appropriate action? The EC approach should not give any indication of discrimination. This is clearly an offence," Prasad told reporters today. Read more here.
12.12 pm: EC asks Varanasi Returning Officer to file FIR against Ajai Rai
The Election Commission has directed Varanasi Returning Officer to file an FIR/complaint against Congress candidate Ajai Rai for displaying party symbol at polling booth, under section 126 and 130 of the Representation of People's Act.
Earlier in the day, the EC had submitted its probe report to the Delhi office after the BJP allegedly complained that Ajai Rai had worn the Congress symbol on his kurta while entering the polling booth.
Ajai Rai defended himself saying he was not aware that he could not wear the party symbol, and for him it was a matter of routine.
Speaking to reporters after the EC ordered a probe against him, Rai said, "I'm a Congress candidate and I wear the symbol everyday. When I step out of my house, I have the symbol on my clothes. I was unaware of this rule."
On his party's reaction to Modi flashing the BJP symbol when Gujarat went to polls, Rai said: "I haven't been carrying the symbol around in my hand. It was just on my kurta like it is everyday."
When asked what his next step would be if he is disqualified, "We'll see what happens if and when it happens," he said.
12.07 pm: Over 27 percent voting in Varanasi, can they beat last years record?
The voting percentage in most seats continued to rise with Varanasi, Kushinagar, Azamgarh, Gorakhpur, Jaunpur and Deoria recording above 27 percent polling.
In rest of the seats, the polling was below 25 percent.
In largely rural constituencies like Bansgaon, Maharajganj, Mirzapur and Domariaganj the polling was around 22 percent.
Day temperature was expected to touch 43 degrees C because of which polling was likely to be slow in the next couple of hours.
Students were seen going to cast their votes in Varanasi in groups. - Firstpost's Ratan Mani Lal, Lucknow.
Over 41 percent turnout was recorded in the initial hours in 17 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal and about 18 percent in six constituencies of Bihar. On an average 41.2 percent polling was recorded in the first four hours of polling, West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Gupta said.
12.00 pm: 25 percent voting in Bihar till 11 am, despite heatwave
Rare enthusiasm is being seen among the voters in Bihar to elect their leaders. Despite unbearable heat with mercury soaring to 43 degree Celsius in the day, the enthusiastic voters were seen turning up in large numbers to exercise their franchise, many without having their breakfast.
Voter enthusiasm was seen right since the polling started at 7 am. In the first hour, the voting percentage was recorded at non-impressive 4.33 but by 9, it soon touched 11.39 percent. By 10, it touched 17 percent and finally it reached 24.56 at 11 am till last reports came in.
More than the candidates, the last round of election is turning out to be shadow boxing between RJD chief Lalu Prasad and BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi. One of the six constituencies going to poll is Gopalganj which is also the home district of Lalu. Likewise, his prestige is at stake in East Champaran where he has given a ticket to his aide Binod Srivastava while in Siwan, he has fielded Heena Shahab, wife of Mohammad Shahabuddin. - Firspost's Manoj Kumar, Patna.
11.15 am: Narendra Modi exists because of BJP, says MM Joshi
"This election is about BJP, Narendra Modi is because of the BJP", Murli Manhohar Joshi tells NDTV.
'I would be happy if Modi retains Varanasi', said the former MP from the constituency. He also said that it was the "BJP which decided that it would be better if Modi contests Varanasi."
On Congress candidate Ajai Rai pining his party's symbol to his kurta, Joshi said it shouldn't be such a big deal for a party that's sure of winning a majority.
"Everyone takes their hand into poll booth, should we cut it off?... A party which is winning with huge majority should not bother about such small things," Joshi said.
Joshi, who has been critical of BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi in the past, had to vacate his seat for Modi and is now contesting from Kanpur.
10.55 am: Modi will boost economy, give us jobs, says first time voter Vartika
Vartika Singh is a first time voter. She says she didn't imagine her first election would be so exciting. Even her friends are not interested in politics or are excited.
More excitingly both Modi and Kejriwal made a strong pitch for the youth vote but she says for her Modi wins out because she thinks employment and economy will grow more under him. - Sandip Roy, Firstpost
10.45 am: Flashing poll symbol is a violation, says EC
Election Commission observer Praveen Kumar has reacted to the complaint filed by the BJP against Congress candidate Ajai Rai, saying a report of the incident has been sent to Delhi.
"Flashing of party symbol is violation of election rules. A report is being sent on the matter to the EC in Delhi," he said.
However, Times Now reports that the BJP has not filed a complaint as yet and may not do so for now.
Interestingly, Congress ally in the UPA, the NCP also reacted to the Ajai Rai controversy saying action should be taken against him if found guilty.
10.40 am: 'Modi may win Varanasi but victory belongs to Kejriwal'
Government employee Naushad Khan says he thinks Narendra Modi's chances of winning are 98 percent. But "in a ring, if a kid puts up a real fight against a pehlwan the victory might be the pehlwan's but the bahaduri belongs to the boy," he says.
10.25 am: BJP's Murli Manohar Joshi arrives to vote in Varanasi
Varanasi's incumbent MP and BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi arrived to cast his vote in the city this morning. Joshi, who has been critical of BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi in the past, had to vacate his seat for Modi and is now contesting from Kanpur.
He has largely stayed away from campaigning for Modi in his constituency and was not present when Modi filed his nomination for the Varanasi seat.
10.10 am: 'No one told me I can't wear party symbol'
Reacting to the complaint filed by the BJP against him sporting the Congress symbol at a polling booth, Ajai Rai today said he was unaware that the party symbol could not be used inside the polling centre.
"Nobody told me that a candidate can't wear the party symbol to the polling booth.. I am a party candidate, I can wear the symbol.. I wore party symbol as part of a routine," he reportedly said.
10.05 am: Varanasi peaceful, first time voters out to vote
Unprecedented enthusiasm among voters was seen in the first couple of hours in most of the 18 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh where polling began on a brisk note this morning.
Long queues of voters had formed as soon as polling stations opened in the cooler first half of the day in Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Jaunpur, Ghosi, Ghazipur and Azamgarh.
A large number of first time voters dominated the turn out in all places, most visibly in Varanasi where Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party is locked in a three way contest with Arvind Kejriwal and Ajai Rai.
The display of the Congress symbol pinned to his kurta by Ajai Rai while standing in the queue evoked curiosity whether it would attract a response by the Election Commission.
Additional security personnel had been deployed in all places with special focus on Maoist hit districts of Chandauli, Robertsganj and Mirzapur. - Firstpost correspondent Ratan Mani Lal, Lucknow.
10.05 am: Brisk voting in Bihar, 11.39% voting till 9 am
Polling for the last six Lok Sabha seats of Bihar began on a peaceful note today with the main contest appearing to have boiled down between Lalu Prasad's RJD and the BJP. An average 11.39 percent of voters cast their votes in the first two hours since the polling began at 7 in the morning.
Long queues of voters were seen at most of the polling booths in Bihar. Majority of the voters looked in a hurry to cast their votes before the rising temperature in the day could spoil their enthusiasm. In the past few days, temperature has shot up to 43 degree Celsius in Bihar.
The prominent candidates whose fate will be decided by voters include former Union ministers Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Raghunath Jha, filmmaker Prakash Jha, Heena Shahab and Annu Shukla, the last two being the wives of jailed dons. While Heena is the wife of controversial former MP Mohammad Shahabuddin, Shukla is wife of jailed JD-U leader Munna Shukla who has been sentenced to life imprisonment in the killing of a former RJD minister Brij Bihari Prasad.
"I am confident of my victory since the voters are my family. I even consider my adversaries as my brothers," said Heena Shahab, indicating she had slowly learnt the tricks of the trade. - Firstpost correspondent Manoj Kumar, Patna.
9.55 am: BJP giving out food packets to woo voters?
In Varanasi, a first time voter Naseer says the BJP gave out food packets with puris and rasgolla in his neighborhood.
"Bechara Aam Aadmi Party has no money... could give nothing!" he tells our editor Sandip Roy.
9.50 am: BJP showing double standards, says Cong after EC complaint
With the BJP filing a complaint with the Election Commission against Congress's Ajai Rai, the Congress has hit out at the party saying it was a clear case of double standards.
"BJP earlier said if Modi was wearing lotus symbol then its nothing wrong, now they are saying take action against Ajai Rai", Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal said.
Meanwhile, the EC has said that it would examine video footage of Ajai Rai and necessary action will be taken against him if he's found guilty, NDTV reported.
9.45 am: 20 percent voter turnout in Varanasi, in first two hours of polling
The first two hours of polling in Varanasi saw 20 percent of the electorate come out and vote. In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the seat saw a mere 43 percent voter turnout.
This time, however, the constituency is likely to see a huge turnout given that it is the most watched contest between BJP's Narendra Modi and AAP's Arvind Kejriwal.
9.32 am: BJP complains to EC over Ajai Rai sporting Congress badge
The BJP and AAP have reportedly lodged a complaint with the Election Commission over Congress candidate Ajai Rai pining the Congress party's symbol to his kurta within 100m of the polling station.
He was speaking to reporters while in the queue to cast his vote.
The Congress party had earlier raised an objection to Modi flashing the BJP party symbol -lotus- when Gujarat went to polls in an earlier phase.
The EC then ordered a probe and found Modi guilty of violating the model code of conduct.
9.25 am: Violent clashes between TMC-CPM reported in West Bengal
Clashes between party workers of Trinamool Congress and the CPM haven been reported in Haroa Basirhat, West Bengal where polling is on.
At least four people have been hospitalised, CNN-IBN reported. The police have reached the spot and firing to control the crowd has begun.
9.20 am: 'No one can stop development if Modi is PM'
"If Modi becomes PM there will be development in all fields from business to tourism. No one can stop it. This is a special election between the man who wants to be PM and the man who surprisingly became CM of Delhi," says Manju Kesari , resident of Sivala.
9.10 am: Should candidates be allowed to contest from 2 seats?
In a discussion on CNN-IBN with its editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai, senior journalist Paranjo Guha Thakurta advocated for disallowing candidates from contesting two seats in a single election.
"The law should be changed, one candidate should contest from only one constituency," he said.
9.00 am: In Chandauli, laptop with Mulayam's photo inside poll booth
In what could be trouble for the Samajwadi Party, a laptop inside a polling booth in Chandauli, Uttar Pradesh has a photo of the SP Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav.
8.47 am: Varanasi will vote for intelligent candidates, says Kejriwal
AAP's Varanasi candidate Arvind Kejriwal today said he was confident of defeating Narendra Modi while dismissing Congress's Ajai Rai saying he was nowhere in the contest. He has been shuttling between polling booths to ensure there are no poll violations.
"Over the last few days, people are saying Modi will lose... the people of Kashi will vote for honest candidates this time," Kejriwal said.
"This battle is about price rise and corruption, we will win Varanasi."
8.30 am: Here's a look at the 2009 results of Varanasi
BJP's Murli Manohar Joshi won the Varanasi seat with 30.52 percent of the voteshare, with Mukhtar Ansari who had contested on a BSP ticket came a close second with 27.94 percent of votes.
8.18 am: Can TMC retain 14 of 17 seats going to polls today?
In West Bengal, while the ruling Trinamool Congress would strive to retain all 14 of the 17 seats it had won in the 2009 Lok Sabha election, the Left Front's efforts would be to wrest some among the 17 which it had lost last time.
An electorate of 2,55,75,744 is eligible to vote in the crucial round.
Central paramilitary forces would be deployed at all hyper-critical booths, while arrangement has been made for web casting and videography.
The 17 Lok Sabha constituencies are Beharampore, Krishnagar, Ranaghat, Bongaon, Barrackpore, Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Kolkata (South), Kolkata (North), Tamluk, Contai and Ghatal. -PTI
8.00 am: Tough battle for Mulayam in Azamgarh
Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, besides sticking to his traditional bastion in Mainpuri, has thrown his hat into the ring from Azamgarh too, which votes today.
However, unlike Mainpuri, Azamgarh may not be a cakewalk for him as he faces a tough fight from BSP's Shah Alam alias Guddu Jamali, Rastriya Ulema Council Chief Aamir Rashadi Madani, and Mulayam's former associate Ramakant Yadav, who is now fighting on a BJP ticket.
While Mulayam is banking on his traditional Muslim-Yadav vote bank, division of Muslim votes by Madani and Guddu Jamali could benefit Ramakant.
7.40 am: TMC will be third largest party, says Derek O'Brien
A confident sounding TMC MP Derek O'Brien said his party will emerge as the third largest come 16 May. Speaking to reporters after casting his vote, Derek said the people of West Bengal will vote for the TMC as it has provided a government that has a track record of performance.
"People voting in large numbers, TMC will be the third largest party in Lok Sabha," he said.
7.30 am: Go out and vote, Modi appeals to youth
In an early morning tweet, BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi urged voters to come out and cast their vote along with their family and friends.
"Today is final phase of 2014 Polls. Urging all those voting in 41 seats across 3 states & Assembly by-polls in WB to vote in large numbers," he tweeted.
7.20 am: Varanasi won't vote for outsiders, says Ajai Rai
Speaking to reporters early this morning before casting his vote, Congress candidate Ajai Rai said the people of Varanasi do not need an outsider to come to the city and they will vote for him as he is one of their own.
"People of Varanasi will not choose a candidate who can't even vote in Varanasi, who are like tenants... they will vote for their own brother.. my doors are always open to the people," Rai said, while adding that there was "no Modi wave in the city but only a Ganga wave".
7.00 am: Varanasi, Azamgarh, Kolkata go to polls today
It's the final phase of Lok Sabha elections and perhaps one that will be most watched. Varanasi, the seat where BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi is contesting against AAP's Arvind Kejriwal and Congress's Ajai Rai will vote for their representative.
Of the 41 seats, 18 are going to polls in Uttar Pradesh, 17 in West Bengal and six in Bihar.
In West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress has 14 seats, while Congress, CPI and Independent have one each.
In neighbouring Bihar, six seats are up for grabs. Of them, BJP and the ruling Janata Dal (United) have two each, while the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Independent have one each.
Prominent among those in the fray in today's polling are Union Minister Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary (Behrampur- West Bengal), BJP leader Jagdambika Pal (Domariyaganj), Union Minister RPN Singh (Kushi Nagar- both UP) and former minister and RJD leader Raghuvanh Prasad Singh (Vaishali-Bihar).
Updates for 11 May end
5.25 pm: Lesser Modi speaks the better for India, says Mayawati
BSP chief Mayawati today hit out at Narendra Modi saying his silence was more powerful than his words, saying the lesser he speaks the better.
"Modi had said his silence is powerful. He is right. The lesser he speaks the better for his image and for the country," Mayawati said.
"Most of what Modi says are lies. He has not only been lying to the whole country, but to the people of Varanasi as well. We have reports that people who were at Modi's roadshow were BJP supporters from outside Varanasi," she said.
She also said that while the NDA hits out at the UPA over and over again regarding the country's security, it wasn't successful in the area in its tenure. "Before the UPA, when the NDA was in power security of the country was most vulnerable," she said.
4.26 pm: UPA broke the trust of people, says Rajnath Singh
BJP president Rajnath Singh hit out at the UPA government saying they had failed to perform as a government and curb corruption and price rise.
During a press conference in Varanasi, Singh said, "The people of the country believe that Congress-led UPA has failed to tackle price rise, inflation and corruption.The country is angry with the UPA."
Singh also said that there were parties apart from the Congress that were polarising the elections. "Parties are trying to play politics of polarisation so that attention is diverted from BJP's agenda of development and progress," he said and added,"However those parties are going through depression now."
Heaping praise on Narendra Modi Singh said, "Fortunately BJP's PM candidate Modi is trusted by people of the country. Congress-led UPA has broken the trust of people."
2.20 pm: Modi doesn't know the power of India, says Rahul
Slamming Modi for his remarks that India has not changed in 60 years, Rahul said what Modi needed was to show respect for the country and its people.
"I saw a poster with Modi's face that said "I will give women power... not us, but I... he comes and gives you speeches and says you'll (Congress) haven't done anything for 60 years.. he tells farmers 'who are you all.. for 60 years you all are sleeping...' US President has said India is growing like a tiger.. but Modi is saying that India has not grown. Modi says make me a watchman... he tells women you have no power... I will give you power. He knows nothing about India.. India's women don't need power... they have it already.. they have it in their hearts and hands.... no one from about can give you power.. but instead what he needs to give is respect... you need to stop sending men behind women... tapping their phones... you have to stop that... give India some respect."
We can never say you have done nothing for 60 years.. that I will come and fight for you... people of India have fought every day... we don't have that right to come and say you'll have done nothing."
2.10 pm: Rahul takes on Modi, says Adani gets preference over Air Force
Hitting out at the BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi, Rahul said the Gujarat government favoured industrialists over government agencies. "They gave Adani land at the rate of Re 1, but when Air Force asks for land, they charge them Rs. 1000. Whose money is this? Isn't it your money?"
"This country runs on love and inclusiveness not on hatred among communities..."
'People are jobless because UP govt doesn't care'
"In Muzaffarnagar, they made one community fight the other six months before elections... In this way the country cannot move ahead," Rahul said, adding that India's youth wants to move ahead but there were no opportunities.
Quoting Barack Obama, Rahul said the US was scared of China and India because the youth were powerful and willing to work, but here the government was not interested in your well being.
"We need gadgets and cars that say 'made in Chandauli'... not made in China where the money goes to Chinese youth," he said.
1.30 pm: Rahul address rally in Chandauli
After a road show that saw thousands of Congress supporters gather in Varanasi, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi addressed a rally in support of his candidate Ajai Rai on the outskirts of Chandauli, Varanasi.
Highlighting the achievements of the UPA government, Rahul spoke about the Land Acquisition Act which gives farmers whose land has been acquired four times the market rate.
He also spoke about MNREGA, saying every year the government allocates Rs 30,000 cr to ensure people get jobs for 100 days at a fixed rate.
On his government's pet legislation - the Right to Food Act, Rahul said in a country where the poor work the most, no one should sleep hungry.
Clarifying that his government was not against industries, Rahul said there needs to be a partnership between the farmers and the corporates, only then will the country grow inclusively.
Pitching for universal healthcare, Rahul said if his party was voted to power, he will ensure that the every poor person gets free treatment and medicines.
12.27 pm: Thousands of supporters greet Rahul on last leg of road show
The last leg of Rahul's Varanasi roadshow saw a massive crowd gather at the Madan Mohan Malviya statue where Rahul culminated his show.
Rahul then garlanded the statue of Malviya, who has been the Congress president for four terms. He is now expected to hold a rally.
12.00 pm: After refusing to endorse Modi, Bismillah Khan's family joins Rahul rally
His kin refused to be among those endorsing Narendra Modi's candidature for the Varanasi seat saying they did not want to be a part of active politics, but Rahul's road show today saw Bismillah's family perform for the Congress's candidate Ajai Rai.
"We are not politically supporting Rahul, we were told that Rahul was coming and he wanted to hear us play, so we agreed to perform... He's our guest and we wanted to welcome him... we are ready to perform for any other leader," Bismillah Khan's grandson said.
10.30 am: BJP cries foul, says Rahul's rally same path where Modi sought permission
BJP's Arun Jaitley on Saturday suggested that the Election Commission was biased in letting Rahul Gandhi's roadshow in Varanasi, as it is passing through the same route where Modi was denied a rally.
"Rahul Gandhi's roadshow is happening in the same area of Varanasi where we were not allowed to hold a rally," he said.
Party spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi also expressed her displeasure saying Rahul could hold 50 rallies but the BJP should be treated equally.
"Rahul ji can hold 50 roadshows,no issue,but denying us permission and allowing him is wrong," Lekhi said.
10.00 am: Don't just hold rallies, come meet us, say BHU students
With three rallies in three days, the students of Benaras Hindu University, which has now become the epicentre of campaigning in Varanasi, have expressed their displeasure with the number of roadshows in the city saying leaders should come and speak to them.
"Instead of just holding roadshows in the city, they should come and address us, have discussions with us... We have exams going on and these roadshows don't help," a student whose identity was not yet known, told CNN-IBN.
9.20 am: Thousands throng Varanasi for Rahul's roadshow
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi held a huge roadshow in Varanasi for his party candidate Ajay Rai. Sitting atop a campaign vehicle, Rahul was seen waving to his party supporters along with Rai.
Rahul's rally will pass through Lanka Gate, where Modi was denied permission to campaign.
On Friday, AAP's Arvind Kejriwal, who is also a candidate from the same seat, held a roadshow in the city. Today is the last day for campaigning as the seat goes to polls on 12 May.
Updates for 8 May end
8.14 pm: Why no action on Rahul for entering poll booth? BJP asks EC
Accusing EC of adopting "double standards", BJP today asked why no action was taken against Rahul Gandhi for entering EVM area of polling booths in Amethi when suo moto action of registering an FIR was taken against Narendra Modi for addressing press near a booth last week.
The BJP feels the EC has not been acting in a "fair and neutral" manner as far as party, particularly its Prime Ministerial candidate, are concerned.
BJP, including Modi, has "genuine grievance" against the EC, said a senior leader on condition of anonymity.
"There is an FIR against Modi, FIR against (TDP leader) Chandrababu Naidu, but no FIR against the Congress leader... Because, the king can do no wrong, says an old saying," BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu told reporters sarcastically.
He said Rahul, contesting from Amethi, had gone to EVM enclosures during polling hours but there was no action against him.
7.24 pm: Security issues only in Varanasi? Modi questions EC
Even as the CEC was holding a press conference defending their decision on Modi's rally, the Gujarat CM questioned them saying why do they speak of security issues only in Varanasi.
"I hold meetings in so many places. So security issues only exist in Varanasi? And if I am ready to die what is their problem?," ANI quoted Narendra Modi as saying.
Modi, according to ANI, went on to say, "That's not all, they stopped me from going to Ma Ganga I am bound by the Constitution and that's why I will tolerate your unfairness. But the people will give a fitting response."
6.05 pm: Massive crowd greets Modi in Varanasi
A sea of people, greeted Narendra Modi as he landed in Varanasi today. Despite a cancelled rally and Ganga aarti, Modi landed at BHU's helipad and his cavalcade made its way through massive crowds to go the the BJP's party office in the city.
5.42 pm: EC can't make you will, Modi tells Congress
As the Election Commission defended their decision on the Narendra Modi rally in Varanasi, BJP's prime ministerial candidate hit out at Congress.
"People don't accept you, EC can't make you win," Modi said.
5.36 pm: BJP, TMC workers clash near BHU
A scuffle today broke out between Trinamool congress and BJP workers in front of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) where the saffron party staged a protest over the refusal of permission for Narendra Modi's rally here.
The incident took place when Trinamool congress candidate Indra Tiwari was canvassing in the area and reached near the BHU main gate, where BJP leader Arun Jaitley, Amit Shah and BJP workers were staging a protest, police sources said.
When Tiwari was passing from through the crowd where dharna was going on, some of BJP supporters handed her party pamphlets, which she torn enraging them.
This was followed by heated arguments between BJP supporters and TMC candidate and her supporters leading to a scuffle.
TMC workers alleged that they and Indira were beaten by BJP supporters.
However, police said that no formal complaint has been received so far in this regard.
5.19 pm: Won't transfer Varanasi returning officer, says EC
The CEC has also said that the Returning Officer in Varanasi would not be transfered.
"The EC will be fair in treating official and complaints from party also. Only if we feel cancellation of a official is necessary for free polls is needed, then we will do it," said the CEC.
The BJP had yesterday alleged that the Returning Officer was partisan in his approach and should be transfered.
5.00 pm: A free and fair elections is a national heritage for all Indians, says Sampath
"So far during this election period over 3,000 public meetings conducted across country", continues the CEC, adding that he would expect political parties to understand that permission for campaign facilities should be asked with due notice.
"I deplore any attempt by anyone to cast aspersions on constitutional institutions like the EC that can cause long term damage to the independence and neutrality of the commission. We would hope that political parties will cooperate with the commission in helping conduct a free and fair election", Sampath added.
4.55 pm: EC is not afraid of anyone or any political party, says commissioner
Election commissioner VS Sampath has said that the EC cannot be intimidated.
"You might have noticed that this election, the commission has also banned even star campaigners and candidates who were accused of making hate speeches from participating in public speaking. Therefore any reference to 'boldness', we would like to point out that the commission is not afraid of anyone or anything", he said.
Prior to this he said that the EC had a cordial meeting with the BJP in relation to its complaints with the returning officer from Varanasi.
Sampath also said that he took exception to allegations of 'boldness', and pointed out that the EC was a constitutional body with the powers to fulfill its obligations boldly and fairly.
4.50 pm: EC holds press conference to defend itself
The Election Commission is holding a press conference to defend itself against the allegations of bias that have been leveled against it.
Election Commissioner VS Sampath has said that the conference was necessary, given the increase in allegations against the EC that have either directly or indirectly questioned its impartiality.
"It needs to be underlined and understood in the prevailing scenario of the electoral contest, the EC has a challenging job in enforcing the election laws and the model code of conduct. This is to reassure that all is being done uniformly, rigorously and a non-partisan manner to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections", he said.
3.58 pm: BJP, AAP supporters clash during Varanasi protest
A clash broke out between BJP and AAP supporters at the Lanka Chowk outside Banaras Hindu University where the saffron party BJP was staging a protest over the refusal of permission for Narendra Modi's rally in the city.
The scuffle took place when some AAP supporters holding brooms came to the protest site raising slogans in favour of Arvind Kejriwal.
Immediately, several BJP supporters tried to block their way by pushing them.
Police and paramilitary forces soon swung into action and pacified both the groups and prevented the situation from escalating. After some time, AAP supporters also left the place.
3:10 pm: Election Commission to hold press conference at 4:30 pm
After being buffeted by multiple attacks, the Election Commission has said that it will hold a press conference of its own to clear its stand on the BJP's protest, reports CNN-IBN.
2:10 pm: Has BJP called off its dharna in Varanasi before Modi arrived?
ABP News reported on Twitter that the BJP has called off its dharna before its prime ministerial candidate landed in the constituency.
Jaitley and other senior BJP leaders who were holding the dharna have gone to receive Modi, who will be heading to the outskirts of Varanasi for a rally.
2:05 pm: Right to protest if candidate denied permission to hold rally, says Jaitley
BJP's Arun Jaitley has said defended the BJP's decision to protest saying that the official in Varanasi couldn't deny permission for the rally.
"It is my democratic right to protest if the candidate is not allowed to campaign," he told CNN-IBN.
Jaitley said that they were given permission for the two other events also only after they had withdrawn their applications which was wrong.
"Elections are fought on rallies not poojas," Jaitley said.
1:40 pm: Chidambaram defends Election Commission, says they're doing great
Even as the BJP differed in who the target of its attack was, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said that the body had done a "tremendous job" so far.
"BJP is getting a little desperate, that is why they are making such outrageous comments against the EC," the Finance Minister said.
1:30 pm: Amit Shah defends party's decision to protest
Head of the campaign in Uttar Pradesh, Amit Shah has defended their protest on the grounds that it was a battle to reach out to the people of the state.
"Modi wanted to meet with 150 people, how is that a security threat?" Amit Shah told CNN-IBN.
The permission to hold the rallies should have come 48 hours in advance not 8 hours, Shah said.
1:00 pm: Kejriwal mocks Modi, BJP protests; says it's all drama
AAP's Arvind Kejriwal has told CNN-IBN that the protest by Modi was purely political drama and that he could well perform a Ganga aarti without bringing the party and politics into it.
"Modi will stay in Kashi for only 2 hours but will do drama in that time," he said.
He also questioned why all the senior leadership of the party was in Varanasi while they hadn't shown the same level of concern over Vadodara.
Kejriwal said that there was no need for a Ganga aarti of the kind Modi and the BJP had planned. He said the party could
But it wasn't like he was much kinder to the Election Commission and said it was at its weakest in years.
"Why didn't the EC take action against Modi for holding the lotus symbol?" Kejriwal said.
He however, defended the returning officer in Varanasi and said that Pranjal Yadav was a good official and questioned why the BJP wanted to remove him.
1:00 pm: BJP says it has submitted complaint to EC, says it only has problem with one returning officer
After meeting with the Election Commission, the BJP has said that it has filed a complaint against the returning officer of Varanasi and wants him replaced. It pointed to the fact that there had been no problems in any of the rallies held by Modi in the nation so far and the fact that even Varanasi has remained peaceful so far.
"We believe that the decision to cancel the rally has been done under pressure from the Samajwadi Party government," senior party leader Venkiah Naidu told reporters outside the EC headquarters.
"We want the returning officer to be replaced and elections be held impartially in Varanasi," he said.
And despite its prime ministerial candidate's statements in Azamgarh, the party maintained that it only had a complaint against the returning officer and not the Election Commission.
"Our complaint is not against the central election commission, but the returning officer in Varanasi," Naidu said.
He said that Modi had merely expressed his annoyance at the returning officer in Varanasi and not the entire Election Commission.
12.45 pm: EC is no longer unbiased, thunders Modi in Azamgarh
BJP Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, who is addressing a rally in Azamgarh on the outskirts of Varanasi is taking the Election Commission head on.
"I can say it with great responsibility, that the election commission is no longer unbiased", he thundered. "However this will not change the fortunes of Narendra Modi".
Modi will join the BJP protest against the EC in Varanasi once the rally is over.
Meanwhile speaking in Delhi, BJP candidate Venkaiah Naidu has defended Modi, saying that It was important for him to campaign in his constituency.
No incident has taken place. The local administration is restricting us for no reason. Late night last night we were allowed to hold a meeting in a hall. Under all kinds of pressure they've refused us permission, thats what our thinking is now".
12.39 pm: Amit Shah at BJP Varanasi protest, Modi to join later
Senior BJP leaders Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley have arrived at the BJP protest in Varanasi.
BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who is presently addressing a rally in Azamgarh on the outskirts of Varanasi, is expected to join later.
12.25 pm: BJP leaders submit memorandum to EC in Delhi
The BJP leaders permitted inside the Election Commission have submitted a memorandum to officials. The full text of the memorandum is not yet known, but it would be a safe bet to say that it contains some fairly strong words against the returning officer in Varanasi.
The BJP have been very clear about the fact that they want the Varanasi returning officer sacked immediately.
In fact, writing a strongly worded blog post, BJP leader Arun Jaitley was particularly critical:
"If the Election Commission chooses to believe such a Returning Officer and feels that this is not a denial of opportunity to campaign, my right to Satyragrah begins. The Election Commission now condones the guilt of the Returning Officer"
12.14 pm: BJP does an AAP, anti-EC protests halt Delhi traffic
BJP leaders have entered the Election Commission office in New Delhi which is situated in Nirvachan Sadan, Ashoka Road. Only a handful of leaders have been allowed inside, with a majority of protestors stopped on Parliament street. Some workers tried to break the barricades and enter the premises, but were stopped by police.
BJP leaders in orange caps who were allowed in, were seen waving and giving thumbs up signs to the camera.
Traffic in central Delhi is reportedly at a standstill.
12.00 pm: Sea of BJP supporters in Varanasi, Delhi
The BJP protests are in full flow in both Delhi and Varanasi, with hundreds of party supporters at both venues.
Chanting 'Modi! Modi!" the supporters are all marching towards the EC offices in both cities.
In Delhi, a barricade has been erected outside the Election Commission office and the police have made an announcement via the public address system and warned supporters not to get close to the building and breach the barricade.
11.45 am: Security stepped up outside EC office in Delhi
In the wake of the protests against the Election Commission in Varanasi, prohibitory orders have also been issued around the Election Commission office in Delhi.
Media reports said that police have already set up barricades outside the road leading to the EC office and have said that they will use force if the barricade is breached. Water cannons have been already placed at the venue, and police have also called for additional paramilitary backup.
The BJP is planning a march from its Delhi office to the Election Commission office.
11.14 am: Mayawati says BJP is trying to create drama ahead of Varanasi polling
Even as the BJP has begun its satyagraha against the 'biased' Election Commission, BSP leader Mayawati has accused the party of merely creating 'drama' in order to influence voters in Varanasi.
"The Varanasi protest is an attempt by the BJP to intimidate Muslim voters in the Poorvanchal region. Both SP and BJP have tried to communalize the atmosphere in the 'Poorvanchal' region. Now they are both colluding to create a new drama in Varanasi", she said.
She also slammed the decision to cancel Narendra Modi's rally in the holy city, saying that the "action of canceling the rally shows the administration is working under directions of the SP".
10.25 am: BJP supporters protest outside BHU
BJP workers gathered outside the Benaras Hindu University in protest against what they term as the 'biasness' of the election commission in denying Modi permission to hold a rally in Varanasi.
Youth workers gathered at the site told news agency ANI that the District Magistrate was wrong in denying voters a chance to listen to Modi.
"How is this democracy? How can they deny Modi a chance to speak if he's a candidate? The EC has shown its bias and what they are doing is wrong," the youth, whose identity was not immediately known, said.
10.13 am: Election Commission says it is 'disappointed' with BJP
The Election Commission has written to BJP leader Arun Jaitley and expressed its 'disappointment' with the party's decision to protest against it. "The Commission is surprised and disappointed that your party has chosen to hold protests over the matter, which was being sought to be resolved in accordance with law and ground realities," the letter read.
According to the Hindustan Times, the letter read:
"In the whole matter, the Commission decided not to go by the version conveyed by the district magistrate alone, but consulted the UP chief secretary and the DGP, who endorsed the security and suitability aspects including capacity of the ground, raised by the district officials.
"You will appreciate that the Commission cannot overlook the security concerns expressed by competent authorities".
The letter added the Commission has given prompt attention to any issue raised by political parties, including BJP, over the ongoing elections, HT said.
10.05 am: Invite Modi for an open debate, says Kejriwal
Arvind Kejriwal, who is contesting against Modi in Varanasi, has invited him to an open debate in Kashi where the people can listen and decide who they think is best suited to be their representative.
Taking on Modi in a series of tweets, Kejriwal said, "BJP top brass landed in Kashi. Shows their nervousness. Will they be able to save Modi ji from defeat?"
He also slammed the Gujarat CM, saying his party's protest against the EC was just to draw political mileage. "Modi ji given permission of Ganga arti. Yet rather than performing arti, he is trying to draw political mileage. Sad."
10.00 am: Congress says BJP does not respect constitutional bodies
While the BJP has been crying foul about the 'politics' of the Election Commission, the Congress has hit back, saying that the BJP reaction just underscored how the party refused to respect constitutional bodies.
"They are playing the same kind of politics they have done before. They keep breaking the EC code of conduct. EC has not given them permission and what the report says I don't know, but its clear that the BJP does not respect the constitutional office", said a Congress spokesman.
Meanwhile the BJP has defended Modi's strong words against the EC.
"There is nothing wrong in what Modi has said, if he has used harsh words there's nothing wrong. He's a candidate and he has the right to do it", a party spokesman said.
8.45 am: Narendra Modi apologises to Maa Ganga on Twitter
Despite being granted permission to hold his rally in Varanasi by the Election Commission last night, Narendra Modi has tweeted, saying that it was "unfortunate that EC is not concerned about the institution's neutrality & that is why our Karyakartas have to embark on a Satyagraha".
The BJP had reportedly decided to go ahead with the protest despite receiving permission, on the basis that they now did not have enough time to plan the rally.
Modi also appealed to BJP workers to remain peaceful, and apologised to 'Ganga Maa' for not being able to perform aarti and said he wished 'these people' know that a Mother's love is above politics.
-- end of updates for 7 May 2014 --
8.20 pm: West Bengal records 81% turnout, UP 55%
Among the states that went top polling today West Bengal saw the highest voter turnout with 81.28%, followed by Seemandhra that saw 76% polling in it 15 Lok Sabha seats.
Uttar Pradesh saw 55.52% polling in the 15 Lok Sabha seats that wento to polls, Uttarakhand registers 62% polling for 5 Lok Sabha seats and Himachal Pradesh 65% for 4 seats
The lowest polling among all the states where voting was held was recorded in Jammu and Kashmir with a 49.98% voter turnout.
8.10 pm: 62% polling recorded in Uttarakhand
Around 62 percent of the voters today cast their votes in Uttarakhand where polling for five Lok Sabha seats completed peacefully amid tight security.
Nearly 62 per cent of the 71.29 lakh voters across the state cast their votes till 6 pm, Joint Chief Election Officer Saujanya told PTI.
However, polling percentage from some remote areas in the hills are still awaited, she said.
Though polling remained peaceful, a poll official Arvind Singh due to cardiac arrest at Nargarha booth of Bageshwar district in Almora Constituency, Chief election officer Radha Raturi said.
Polling began amid tight security across the hill state for Pauri-Garhwal, Tehri, Nainital, Almora and Haridwar seats at 7 am with men and women in large numbers turning up at the polling stations since early morning to cast their votes.
Long queues of voters were seen outside polling stations waiting for their turn to exercise their right to franchise.
A total of 71.29 lakh voters across the state are likely to exercise their voting rights to elect legislators out of 74 candidates, including three former BJP Chief Ministers, contesting elections.
7.41 pm: Polling in some of the states till 5 pm
7.37 pm: 55 % polling recorded in Uttar Pradesh
Nearly 55 percent polling was recorded in the 15 constituencies where voting took place in the fifth round of Lok Sabha election in Uttar Pradesh. Polling was generally peaceful in all constituencies except for minor clashes in some places.
The voter turnout in the first half of the day was quite brisk but slowed down with the passage of the day, and picked up in the last two hours.
There were some dramatic moments in Amethi where Rahul Gandhi went visiting polling stations, causing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to lodge a protest over the number of accompanying vehicles. Rahul also complained against the chalk drawing of lotus on a blackboard in a polling station. It was for the first time in years that Rahul had visited polling stations on the polling day in Amethi.
BJP candidate Smriti Irani had an altercation with a member of Priyanka Vadra’s PR team, Priti Sahay, and lodged a complaint against her presence. The district returning officer then ordered Priti Sahay to leave Amethi at the earliest. In Sultanpur, Varun Gandhi protested against the conduct of a security personnel at a polling station.
In Faizabad, Gonda, Bahraich, Basti and Allahabad the turnout was very high in the forenoon. Voter response indicated an impact of polarization on polling. Heavy security arrangements had been made in all areas in view of the charged atmosphere and complaints of rigging in the previous rounds of polling.
Other constituencies where polling took place were Pratapgarh, Kaushambi, Phulpur, Ambedkarnagar, Kaiserganj, Shrawasti, Sant Kabirnagar and Bhadohi. — Firstpost Correspondent Ratan Mani Lal.
6.58 pm: J&K cop injured in bomb blast near poll booth
A bomb blast near a polling booth in Kashmir injured a policeman on Wednesday, amid further stone-throwing protests and a widespread boycott of the general election in the mainly Muslim region.
Separatists have called on voters to shun the election in the northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir, holding staggered voting in its six parliamentary seats to allow 700,000 army troops and police to mount a mobile security operation.
That has failed to prevent a string of killings of village elders, blamed by police on militants seeking to intimidate voters. In the most serious incident, three insurgents and one army officer were killed in a clash on April 27.
The bomb exploded outside a polling station at a village in the Baramulla constituency, one of two voting on Wednesday in northern Kashmir, injuring a police reservist, police said.
6.39 pm: Desperate Cong violated many laws, says Smriti Irani
BJP candidate Smriti Irani alleged that 'desperate Congress' had violated many polling laws.
Priyanka Gandhi's PA had been asked to leave Amethi but Irani said Rahul's media managers should also not have been allowed in booths. She said thus behaviour proved that he was indeed a 'shehzada' as Modi calls him not a believer in loktantra.
She said the Congress had been giving out money. "If there is so much love for him why are they giving out money? Love can never be bought for money," she said. Asked what she thought of her prospects she said the janta janardhan had already raised har har Modi slogans in front of Rahul. Firstpost Senior Editor Sandip Roy
6.33 pm: Seemandhra records 71 percent polling at 5 pm
Seemandhra recorded 71 percent polling till 5 pm. The polling ended at 6 pm. However, the actual percentages would be announced around 7 pm. Five tribal villages in West Godavari district demanding their inclusion into the Integrated Tribal Development Agency.
The Excise police arrested Ravi Venkataramana, YSR Congress candidate from Ponnur Assembly constituency, as his bail period expired in the excise case. — Firstpost correspondent A Saye Shekhar
6.27 pm: Here's a chart comparing polling in some of the states till 3 pm
6.15 pm: We don't need any damn permission from Returning officer, says Jaitley
A furious Jaitley hitting out over and again at the returning officer, Jaitley said, "India is a free country. We don't need any damn permission from the returning officer."
6.12 pm: Modi will only go to BJP office, says Jaitley
"Since Modi has been denied permission for a rally, he will land on BHU's helipad and then go to the BJP office," said Jaitley.
Accusing the returning officer he said, "The alternative site was never asked by us. How can we ask for a site that can fit only 2000 people for a Modi rally? The returning officer is being very economical with the truth."
6.01 pm: Returning officer biased, says Jaitley over Modi Varanasi rally
As the row between the Election Commission and BJP escalates, Arun Jaitley in a press conference says that Modi has been denied permission to hold a rally.
"Modi was asked to hold his rally in a banquet hall. How is that possible. The Returning officer in Varanasi is biased and hence this issue has come up. We want the official transferred as soon as possible," Jaitley said.
"Permission of a rally was given to an NGO and not to us," Jaitley alleged.
Jaitley says, "This is why I, along with Amit Shah and other BJP with workers, will sit on a dharna in front of BHU. This is not a banana republic."
5.52 pm: BJP rejects venue offered for Modi's Varanasi rally
The BJP today rejected the alternative venue for Narendra Modi's Varanasi rally saying the venue was too small, reported NDTV.
This comes after the Returning Officer had said that all Modi events had been given the nod.
5.49 pm: WB records 73 percent turnout till 3 pm
Polling for six Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal Wednesday was marked by sporadic incidents of violence. The opposition alleged electoral malpractices as over 70 percent of the electorate voted during the day, with three hours yet to go before balloting ends, IANS reported.
"The average turnout was 73 percent till 3 pm," an official said here.
BJP candidate from Asansol Babul Supriyo accused the ruling Trinamool Congress of indulging in "blatant rigging" and "intimidation of voters".
Additional security was provided to Supriyo, who is a Bollywood singer, after he was allegedly heckled and prevented from entering a polling booth by Trinamool activists.
The opposition Left Front (LF) spearheaded by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) alleged its polling agents were beaten up and prevented from manning the booths in several areas.
LF chairman Biman Bose alleged a lot of booths across Purulia, Bankura, Midnapore and Jhargram were captured by the Trinamool activists and fake votes were cast.
There were also allegations the Trinamool activists tried to forcibly prevent CPI-M supporters from voting in Jamuria in Asansol constituency of Burdwan district.
The police intervened and took them to the booth.
In Pandbeshwar of Burdwan district, a physically challenged man was mercilessly beaten up by some goons backed by a political party after he cast his vote.
The Trinamool denied all allegations.
Trinamool activists surrounded and blocked the car of the Communist Party of India candidate from Medinipur, Prabodh Panda, outside a polling booth, alleging the vehicle had the MP's sticker.
5.35 pm: 63 percent polling by 3 pm in Seemandhra
Polling in Araku and Paderu Assembly constituencies ended at 4 pm, as they were naxalite-affected constituencies.
Seemaandhra region posted 63 percent of polling by 3 pm on Wednesday in the eight leg of general elections. People of Seemaadnhra are also electing their first ever State Government through this poll.
YSR Congress alleged that one of their activists was killed at Sitanagaram in East Godavari district.
The YSR Congress also alleged that TDP candidate JC Prabhakara Reddy went berserk and attacked a few persons in Tadipatri town of Anantapur district.
TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu informed the NDA's prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi that the polling was positive to the TDP-BJP combine across the State.
He appealed to polling and police officials to work dispassionately and impartially. He highlighted the activity of a polling official in Chittoor district.
Senior police officials visited villages in Kadapa district where clashes occurred between the TDP and the YSRC activists. — Firstpost correspondent A Saye Sekhar
5.00 pm: Modi gets permission for second rally n Varanasi
Amid much hue and cry from the BJP over permission for Modi's rally the Times of India reported that Modi got permission to hold two rallies in Varanasi. First one at Rohania and second at Boniabagh
4.54 pm: Bihar sees 47% polling till 3 pm, one dead in police firing
One person was killed after the police resorted to firing to scare away a group of villagers who were allegedly trying to capture a booth in Sitamarhi which was among seven parliamentary constituencies of Bihar which went to poll in the fifth and penultimate round today. The incident occurred at booth number 224 located at Bathnaha in Sitamarhi.
Angry villagers later held the cops hostage and are protesting on the streets, demanding action against the cops. Senior police officials have rushed to the spot to calm down tension.
Meanwhile, poll percentage touched 47 percent till 3 pm as brisk polling continues in Bihar despite stray incidents of unseemly incidents.
A maximum of 51 percent polling was recorded in Muzaffarpur, followed by 50 percent in Sheohar, 48 percent in Ujiarpur, 45 percent each in Saran and Maharajganj and 43 percent in Hajipur. — Firstpost correspondent Manoj Kumar.
4.46 pm: 40% voter turnout recorded in UP amid Amethi drama
Polling percentage was inching beyond 40% in all 15 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh till 4 pm. The voter turnout was likely to improve in the last two hours.
Amidst high drama in Amethi, the district returning officer ordered a member of Priyanka Vadra's PR team to leave Amethi. BJP's Smriti Irani had lodged a complaint over the presence of Preeti Sahai, the PR assistant to Priyanka and alleged that Sahai was an outsider and was trying to influence voters.
Earlier in the day, the Aam Aadmi party had lodged a complaint over the movement of Rahul Gandhi between different polling stations with a large number of vehicles in tow.
Faizabad continued to witness a steady turnout of voters and so did Sultanpur. In Bahraich, Sravasti and Gonda also the enthusiasm of voters continued. In all these places the percentage ranged between 38 and 40 percent. — Firstpost correstpondent Ratan Mani Lal
4.32: BJP to protest Varanasi DM call on Modi rally
The BJP has planned a protest in Varanasi after the officials in the city refused permission to Narendra Modi to hold a rally in the city.
Modi has already been given permission for one rally, however, for the second one the permission was denied.
In Varanasi, ADM(city) MP Singh told PTI that they received the application seeking permission for the rally yesterday and the decision will be taken by 5 pm. BJP media in-charge of Kashi region, Sanjay Bhardwaj said they had sought permission for Modi's rally at Beniabagh ground and another at Jagatpur ground in Rohania. He said the district administration is yet to give permission for Beniabagh ground rally.
4.14 pm: Those who never visited Amethi are begging for votes even on poll day, says Modi
Narendra Modi today hit out at the Congress party saying they are begging for votes in Amethi.
"Those who were not seen in Amethi for the last five years are now begging for votes even on polling day," Modi said in Krishnanagar, West Bengal.
Attacking Sonia Gandh, he said, "Madam Soniaji, you were telling me I ask for votes? The janta is like god to me, so if I don't ask them for voters who will I ask?"
Modi also hit out as Mamata Banerjee as well saying, "Aajkal Didi bohot gusse mein hain, aur hum nahin chahte ki humaari Didi bimaar ho jaye. (These days Didi is very angry. I don't want her to fall sick.) Those voting for me are people from Bengal only. So don't be angry. What can I do if Didi is seeing bad days?" Modi said.
3.38 pm: In Amethi, the elderly support Congress
Kali Deen does not know how old he is. He says he was full grown during 'azaadi'. He has worked for 42 years as a government employee and is a Congress loyalist. He is sick and cannot see well but still has come to vote.
"I have never seen Rahul but have been with Congress always," he said. The Congress vote bank is still strong among the elders the 'buzurg' say, even BJP supporters. — Firstpost Senior Editor Sandip Roy
2.47 pm: In Bihar, man shoots wife for not voting for his favourite candidate
Meanwhile, a man shot and injured his wife Wednesday for not voting for his favourite candidate in Bihar's Ujiarpur constituency, police said.
Vinod Paswan, a resident of Mohiuddinnagar village in Samastipur district, was angry over the issue and shot and seriously injured his wife, they said.
"The woman was admitted to a hospital for treatment. But doctors referred to the Patna Medical College and Hospital as her condition deteriorated," a police officer said in Samastipur.
Police said they have registered a case against Paswan, who is absconding.
Ujiarpur is among seven Lok Sabha seats in Bihar that went to the polls Wednesday.
2.38 pm: Kupwara leads in J&K's Baramulla constituency with 41.26% polling
The border town of Kupwara in north Kashmir is presently leading in entire Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency with 41.26 polling percentage recorded till 1 pm. It was followed by 35 percent in Ladakh and 49 percent by Kargil, Firstpost Correspondent Sameer Yasir says.
In Baramulla, where protesters have clashed with police in many places since morning, 14.69 percent voting was recorded till 1 pm.
Officials said that Bandipora district recorded a polling percentage of 20.43 till 1 pm. Sopore town has a total of 46,630 electors out of which only 92 had cast their vote till 11 am.
However in Rafiabad, has 80,199 electors and 1800 were polled. Sangrama has a total of 25,284 and only 54 were polled till the reports last came in.
Sopore has recorded 0.38 vote percentage till 12.00 it is the home town of hardline separatists leader Syed Ali Geelani, who has called for a poll boycott in entire north Kashmir.
Another border town of Uri which which is picking up is Uri were polling percentage was recorded at 20.54 till 1 pm.
2.30 pm: Bihar records 35% polling till 1 pm, Rudy confident of win
The polling which began on seven Lok Sabha seats of north Bihar touched a remarkable 35 percent till 1 pm as voter's enthusiasm to join the polling booths despite the burning sun has surprised everyone.
Long queues of voters are being seen on most of the polling booths in Bihar even as stray incidents of skirmishes and intimidation to voters have been reported from some parts of these constituencies.
Among the seven constituencies where polling is being held, Saran and Hajipur are high-profile seats from here Rabri Devi and Ram Vilas Paswan are contesting respectively. Rabri is pitted against Rajiv Pratap Rudy. Both have claimed victory from this seat.
"I am confident of my victory as people want change," Rudy told the newsmen, emerging from the booth after casting his vote adding, "Rabri Devi is a good lady. The woman who is a mother of nine children surely must be good."
He refrained from making direct attacks on his rival Rabri and accused her husband Lalu Prasad of frequently putting bigger responsibility on his wife.
"Laluji has been making frequent trips to jail and when he goes to jail, he hands over his all important responsibility on his wife," he mocked. — Firstpost correspondent Manoj Kumar.
1.55 pm: AAP, BJP say SP administration turning blind eye to malpractices
Aam Aadmi Party in Amethi lodged a protest against alleged malpractices in Amethi, while BJP'S Smriti Irani also complained that Priyanka Gandhi's secretary Priti Sahay was trying to influence voters. Sahay has been asked to leave Amethi by the Returning Officer.
Both party sources alleged that the local administration under Samajwadi Party government was turning a blind eye to the malpractices. Elsewhere, the voting enthusiasm continued. In Sultanpur many first time voters said they voted for development rather than existing political leaders. - Firstpost's Ratan Mani Lal
1.50 pm: Senior police officials attacked in Seemandhra
An Assistant Superintendent of Police Appala Naidu was attacked allegedly by YSRC activists at Devagudi in Jammalamadugu Assembly constituency in Kadapa district.
An SP from Karnataka, Rajesh, who was on election duty was also attacked. Inspector-General Navin Chand strongly condemned the attack and said action would be taken against all those responsible for the attacks.
TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu held a teleconference with party workers and urged them to counter the attacks of the YSR Congress activists. He wanted the TDP cadres to ensure that the poll percentage went up to 90.
Guntur district witnessed tense situations in Vinukonda, and Narasaraopet constituencies.
TDP activists complained to Election Commission that YSR Congress distributed cash to voters through Sakshi newspaper hawkers. While CEO Bhanwarlal reportedly warned TDP Rajya Sabha member CM Ramesh to mend his ways, YSR Congress spokesperson Vasireddy Padma said that it appeared that the TDP had given up the fight even before the polling was complete. - Firstpost correspondent Saye Sekhar
1.42 am: Priyanka's secretary asked to leave Amethi
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi's political secretary Preeti Sahay has been asked by the District Returning Officer to leave Amethi constituency immediately for entering a poll booth without a letter of authority.
1.20 pm: Did not vote for Rahul this time, says Amethi voter
In Amethi, Ram Yash, a labourer, says he has voted for Narendra Modi. He says this is the first time he did not vote for the Congress party in its family bastion. "Satta badalna chahiye (need a change in regime)," he says, adding that Modi's rally on Monday has had a huge impact.
12.55 pm: Rivals clash in Bihar; can Ram Vilas Paswan snatch victory?
Rival groups of party supporters clashed at two booths in Saran parliamentary constituency of Bihar where Rabri Devi is locked in a straight fight with BJP candidate Rajiv Pratap Rudy as polling percentage touched 22.36 percent till 11 am. The incident occurred at booth number 111 and 112 in Sonepur assembly segment.
The clashing party supporters were charged with intimidating the voters in the queue and preventing them from casting their votes, forcing them to register protests. Later, the police arrested one person in this connection.
This created further panic after two live bombs were found planted in a field outside a pooling booth at Marhaura in same Saran constituency. Both Rabri and Rudy are battling hard to win elections to prove their political acumen.
In Hajipur, Ram Vilas Paswan who is battling for his political survival was seen shaking hands with voters outside a polling booth. A victory in the polls will give a boost to his career while the second successive defeat will end his political relevance as well as his bargaining capacity.
Interestingly, the slowest polling was seen in Sitamarhi. Only a single voter had cast his vote at booth number 25 in Sitamarhi till 11 am although the booth has a total of 1309 voters.
- Firstpost correspondent Manoj Kumar
12.50 pm: Mohd Kaif, Ameeta Singh confident of winning polls
In Amethi, Rahul Gandhi making rounds of polling stations to seek reports of polling was an unusual sight. Till mid-day about 14 percent voting had been recorded.
Congress candidates, cricketer Mohd Kaif in Phulpur and Ameeta Singh in Sultanpur, expressed confidence of their win after casting their vote.
Reports indicate signs of polarized voting from most constituncies in this round. BJP supporters appeared very enthusiastic in Sultanpur, Allahabad, Faizabad and Kaiserganj. - Firstpost correspondent Ratan Mani Lal
12.30 pm: BJP, SP workers clash in Kaiserganj
In the Tarai districts bordering Nepal, voting was reported to be heavy but turned a little slow as the day temperature soared.
Bahraich, Kaiserganj, Gonda and Shravasti polling stations saw long queues. There was a clash between BJP and SP supporters in Kaiserganj but it did not turn serious because of timely police intervention.
In most constituncies, polling has been peaceful.
In Gonda, Union minister Beni Prasad Verma was said to be facing a tough challenge from the BSP candidate Akbar Ahmed 'Dumpy' as indicated by the nature of voter turn out.
According to an estimate, about 15 percent votes had been cast till 11.30 am. - Firstpost correspondent Ratan Mani Lal.
12.20 pm: YSR Cong workers attack polling booth official, media
YSR Congress activists reportedly attacked a polling official in Chandragiri Assembly constituency in Chittoor district. The media personnel who shot the attack on video cameras were also reportedly attacked.
As much as 33 percent of polling was recorded in Seemaandhra by 11 am. Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Andhra Pradesh Bhanwarlal said that the polling could touch 85 to 90 percent by evening.
Very heavy polling has been seen in most districts, while it is lagging at 13 percent in Guntur and 12 percent in Krishna districts. Two former TDP MLAs from Hindupur Assembly constituency were placed under house arrest.
Former Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy cast his vote in Pileru of Chittoor district, along with his family members. - Firstpost correspondent Saye Sekhar.
12. 15 pm: Of course I'm riding the Modi wave, says BJP's Rudy
BJP leader and Saran candidate Rajiv Pratap Rudy is hopeful of defeating Lalu Prasad's wife Rabri Devi by riding the Modi wave.
Speaking to CNN-IBN, Rudy said there was no doubt that the people want Modi as the next PM of the coutnry. "How can I deny it, of course I'm banking on the Modi wave (to win the election)...
On being asked if the JD(U) and RJD could hurt his prospects, Rudy said: "Nitish Kumar or Lalu... they are both fighting to find space in the opposition.. both have been rejected by the people."
"I never got a chance to contest against Lalu as he goes to jail every second term," Rudy added.
11.55 am: Voting percentages till 11 am
West Bengal has recorded a voter turnout of 45 percent in the first four hours of polling, while Rahul Gandhi's Amethi saw 27 percent of the electorate come out and vote.
Seemandhra saw a 33% voter turnout, 20 percent in Uttarakhand, 34 percent in Haridwar and 22.3 percent in Bihar
11.39 am: In Amethi, Sultanpur brisk voting continues
Brisk polling continued in Sultanpur and Allahabad till 11 am, as voters in many polling stations in Allahabad stood in the queue in their morning walk outfits, saying they wanted to vote first after completing their walk and then go home.
In Sultanpur the enthusiasm for voting was unprecedented according to locals. In Amethi, too, the outlying rural areas saw a large turn out. - Firstpost correspondent Ratan Mani Lal
11.10 am: Rahul objects to Lotus drawn inside poll booth
Congress Vice President and Amethi candidate Rahul Gandhi has objected to a drawing of BJP's poll symbol - the lotus - drawn inside a polling booth in Amethi. His party has lodged a complaint with the Election Commission, NDTV reports.
Meanwhile, AAP has complained to the EC about Rahul Gandhi travelling in Amethi with a 15-car cavalcade, CNN-IBN reports.
In an unexpected move, Rahul decided to be present in Amethi while it votes, something he had not done in the 2009 and 2004 polls.
11.07 am: Rahul just lives off his father's name, says UP youth
Deepak Agrahari and Vijay Kumar in Ramgarh, where Congress's Sanjay and Ameeta Singh voted, say they think AAP's Kumar Viswas will come in second. But given the work he did if he had contested from Modi's side, he would have won 100 percent. Rahul just lives off his father's name, Deepak says.
11.00 am: Modi dials Naidu to check poll trends in Seemandhra
BJP's PM candidate and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has called up TDP president and alliance partner N Chandrababu Naidu to inquire about poll trends.
Sporadic incidents of clashes between the workers of the Telugu Desam Party and the YSR Congress are being reported across the region, with Kadapa district witnessing the highest number of such incidents.
Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee president N Raghuveera Reddy went to cast his vote on a bullock cart at Neelakanthapuram in Madakasira Assembly constituency of Anantapur district.
Chandrababu Naidu demanded the arrest of YSR Congress workers who attacked TDP workers in Mydukuru and Jammalamadugu Assembly constituencies.
The police opened fire into the air to control the clashing activists of YSR Congress and the TDP at Rompicherla in Narasaraopet Assembly constituency in Guntur district.
Chief Electoral Officer of Andhra Pradesh Bhanwarlal said polling was peaceful and appealed to people to exercise their franchise without fail.
The police kept under house arrest Paritala Sriram, son of Paritala Sunitha, TDP contestant from Rapthadu Assembly seat in Anantapur district, as a preventive measure. - Firstpost correspondent A. Saye Sekhar
10.50 am: Amethi sees brisk voting, despite warm weather
Very brisk voting was reported from Amethi, Faizabad, Sultanpur and Allahabad even though the day was much warmer than yesterday.
Long queues were seen at polling stations in Faizabad while in Amethi too a large number of people came out to vote.
Additional security personnel have been deployed for today's voting in view of the complaints of booth capturing in early rounds in the state.
Interestingly Rahul Gandhi is camping in Amethi on the voting day, something that he had never done in earlier elections.
On an average about 10 to 12 percent polling had been recorded in all the 15 constituencies where voting is taking place. - Firstpost correspondent Ratan Mani Lal.
10.25 am: 10 percent voter turnout in Amethi till 9 am
The politically crucial constituency of Amethi, from where BJP's Smriti Irani is challenging Congress's VP Rahul Gandhi, saw 10 percent voting till 9 am.
Constituencies going to vote in West Bengal saw 24 percent voter turnout till 9 am.
9.53 am: Riding a wave in Seemandhra?
This TDP candidate from Visakha East Velagapudi Ramakrishna Babu arrived at the polling booth riding an Enfield.
9.52 am: TMC-Left workers clash in West Midnapore
Trinamool Congress and Left workers have reportedly clashed in West Midnapore in West Bengal, Times Now reports.
TMC workers reportedly stopped the vehicle of a CPI candidate while he was on his way to a polling booth. Police and election officials have arrived at the spot.
9.45 am: Paswan's aide held distributing money among voters in Bihar
The election to seven Lok Sabha seats in Bihar began on a peaceful note today with an average 9.46 percent of voters casting their votes in the first two hours.
In Hajipur from where Dalit leader Ram Vilas Paswan is battling hard to retrieve his lost ground, one of his polling agents were caught on camera distributing hard cash among the voters to get their votes.
TV footages showed the man hiding currency notes of Rs 100 denomination in the thief pocket of his kurta and trying to influence voters in the queue at booth number 81 of Hajipur.
His supporters were also seen intimidating the TV crew not to carry the story. Taking cognizance of the matter, a team of Election Commission officials later rushed to the spot and analysed the video footage of the TV news channels before it could initiate any action if necessary.
Prominent candidates whose fate will be decided in the phase include, Rabri Devi, wife of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, BJP general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy, LJP president ram Vilas Paswan and RJD strongman Prabhunath Singh.
What remains to be of great interest for voters in this phase, which is the penultimate round of the six-phase polling in Bihar, is the shadow boxing between Narendra Modi and Lalu Prasad. Although on the surface it's a fight between Rabri and Rudy, Modi and Lalu are engaged in a proxy battle through their candidates. - Manoj Kumar, Patna
9.35 am: Independent India's first voter casts his vote
At 97, independent India's first voter SS Negi cast his vote along with his wife in Himachal Pradesh. Since the first time he voted, he has never missed an election. "At 97 if I can vote, there's no reason why the youth cannot... I request everyone to vote," he says.
9.20 am: Shot in the leg, Somnath among early voters
Here's 65 year-old Somnath, who was shot while in the Army. Assisted by a walker, he came out early to vote in Haridwar.
9.15 am: Grenade attack on polling booth in Baramulla
There has been a grenade attack at a polling booth in Baramullah leaving one CRPF jawan injured. There was also massive stone pelting reported in Sopore.
NDTV reports that a crude bomb was found in the vicinity of one of the polling booths in Baramulla, it has now been defused.
8.39 am: BJP nervous about winning in Uttar Pradesh?
While Rahul Gandhi seems to be worried about winning with a much reduced margin in Amethi, is BJP's Narendra Modi also nervous about whether his party could sweep Uttar Pradesh - that sends 80 MPs to Lok Sabha?
Firstpost editor-in-chief R Jagannathan during a discussion on CNN-IBN said it was not just Modi, but all the parties that were unsure about how the electorate will vote.
"Absolutely... Not just the top two , all parties are nervous... This time, wins will be through narrow margins. Everyone's playing every card to get the marginal 2 percent vote on caste and communal appeals. No one can be certain of a huge win in Uttar Pradesh, except in a few seats," he said.
8.27 am: How did Rahul perform in the last two elections?
Here's a look at Rahul Gandhi's winning margins from the Congress bastion of Amethi. In 2004 and 2009, he defeated his nearest opponent - BSP by around 3 lakh votes. This time, pre-poll surveys expect Rahul to win by a lower margin as he faces competition from BJP's Smriti Irani and AAP's Kumar Vishwas.
8.20 am: Brisk voting in Seemandhra, largely peaceful
Polling commenced peacefully with people making serpentine queues in front of polling stations across Seemaandhra, which will soon retain its name of Andhra Pradesh after bifurcation, at 7 am.
Some of the electronic voting machines malfunctioned, troubling polling officials while testing the patience of voters standing in queues at different places across the state.
YS Jaganmohan Reddy from Pulivendula Assembly seat in Kadapa district was one of those early birds to cast his vote in his native constituency. He is in the race for the post of chief minister.
Soon after exercising his franchise, when reporters accosted him and asked if he was ready to support the National Democratic Alliance at the Centre, he said: "We have all our options open."
Incidentally, TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu, who is seeking a reelection from Kuppam Assembly seat in Chittoor district, doesn't have his vote in Seemaandhra. He had already cast his vote in Hyderabad, along with his family members, for the BJP contestants.
YS Vijayalakshmi, Jagan's mother, is seeking an election from Visakahpatnam Lok Sabha seat and is locking horns with the State unit president of the BJP Kambhapati Hari Babu.
Of the nearly Rs 300 crore seized from across the country, Andhra Pradesh had the lion's share with close to Rs 115 crore, 40 per cent of the total sum recovered. - Firstpost correspondent Saye Sekhar reports.
7.59 am: Rahul arrives in Amethi, slams Modi
Congress VP and Amethi candidate Rahul Gandhi took on Narendra Modi for twisting his sister Priyanka's remarks, saying a person is judged by his deeds, not by his caste. "People's actions can be lowly, not their caste," he said.
Maximum number of people should come out and vote. "Neech soch hoti hai, gusse ki soch hoti hai, neech jaati nahi hoti.
7.45 am: All options open, says Jagan Reddy
Speaking to reporters after casting his vote, YSR Congress chief Jagan Mohan Reddy refused to reveal what his political strategy will be come 16 May. ""All our options are open," he told reporters when asked who he will ally with post the results.
7.25 am: Whose magic will work in Amethi? Modi's or Priyanka's?
After days and days of allegations, charges, counter allegations, mocking and some head on aggression, it comes to this. Whose magic will work in the Gandhi bastion of Amethi? Priyanka Gandhi who has been campaigning vigorously on behalf of her brother Rahul, or Narendra Modi who literally flew into the Gandhi bastion hours before campaigning ended and launched a blistering attack on the Gandhi family?
That Rahul is likely to win this seat is fairly certain, but it will not be as easy as before. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections he won the seat by a margin of over 3 lakh votes. This time he is up against Kumar Vishwas from AAP and Smriti Irani from the BJP.
As Firstpost's Sanjeev Singh noted, neither the local cadres nor the voters are very happy with Rahul. In the wake of this wave of relative unpopularity, his sister Priyanka has been campaigning hard. Whether her charm will be enough to comfortably keep Amethi with the Gandhis remains to be seen.
Apart from Amethi, another key UP constituency going to polls today is Sultanpur, where the estranged Gandhi cousin, Varun is fighting from the BJP to win back his father’s legacy. He’s facing Congress candidate Ameeta Singh who is the wife of the current MP Dr Sanjay Singh.
Sanjay Singh was a close friend of Rajiv Gandhi.
But Varun has adopted an unusual style of campaigning, as noted by Firstpost editor Sandip Roy. He has refrained from making personal attacks against his cousins, even though Priyanka accused him of betraying her family. Nor does he mention Modi too much in his speeches. Will Varun’s unusual move to steer clear of the 'Modi wave' get him the votes?
7.17 am: Moment of truth for Lalu Prasad Yadav, Jagan Reddy
Two of politics most colourful characters, the veteran Lalu Prasad Yadav from Bihar and the young gun Jaganmohan Reddy face epochal moments today.
For Yadav, who is contesting through his wife Rabri Devi and daughter Misa, the polling today is likely to determine whether or not he can continue his political career.
As described by Firstpost reporter Manoj Kumar, "Lalu Prasad follows a gruelling campaign schedule, with the 66-year-old often putting in 22-hour days that begin at 7 in the morning and end at 5 the next morning. The entire family comprising Rabri, daughter Misa Bharti, and two sons - Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap - have been working as hard. Lalu himself is said to have addressed around 125 rallies, big and small, in addition to holding up to 20 street corner meetings in a day. In Saran, Rabri Devi is up against BJP's Rajiv Pratap Rudy, an established leader with his own support base and riding on the 'Modi wave'.
In Bihar, over 1.08 crore electorate would cast their vote in 9804 polling stations to decide the fate of 118 candidates. With the close of polling in the seven seats, voting would be over in 34 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
For Jagan Reddy, the polling will decide whether or not he becomes Seemandhra's first ever Chief Minister, following however belatedly, in his late father's footsteps.
As Firstpost correspondent Saye Sekhar claims, "Though political parties are talking about manifestos and development, clearly these elections in Seemaandhra are revolving around him, with everyone being forced to choose whether they are pro or anti Jagan.
-- end of updates for 6 May --
2.45 pm: Security increased for Uttar Pradesh polling tomorrow
The Election Commission (EC) has ordered the deployment of more security personnel for the fifth phase of polling in 15 parliamentary constituencies of Uttar Pradesh May 7, officials said on Tuesday.
With several incidents of booth capturing in the third and fourth rounds of balloting in the state and apprehensions about further rigging by major political parties, the EC has directed that 300 companies of central forces will oversee the May 7 election in the state.
Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha has asked for enhanced security cover at all the polling stations at a meeting held with the security agencies, a senior official told IANS.
More security personnel are now available for the remaining two phases of election in the state as in most parts of the country, the polls are over. The EC can now use them optimally, DIG A. Satish Ganesh told IANS.
With some seats being located in the naxal affected regions of the eastern Uttar Pradesh in the May 7 polls, more security cover is provided to the polling officials on duty, Ganesh said.
-- end of updates for 1 May --
10.53 pm: Will remember the first FIR against me, says Modi
Reacting to the case registered against him by Gujarat police on Election Commission's order for addressing the media after casting his vote in Ahmedabad and displaying BJP's symbol, Narendra Modi today said it was the first FIR of his life which he will never forget.
He also lashed out at Congress, saying it was facing defeat and was worried that "a person who (once) eked out his livelihood by selling tea" was challenging it.
Addressing a campaign rally here, Modi said, "To date in my entire life, not even a single FIR was registered against me, not even for wrong-side scooter driving, and not even for wrong parking.
"Suddenly today when I landed here I came to know that an FIR has been registered against me... I will never forget April 30. One can understand if someone points (threatens with) a knife, a pistol or a gun (and FIR is registered). But do you know why a FIR was registered against me? Because I showed a lotus to the people," he said.
7.34 pm: West Bengal sees high polling with 81%, Gujarat 62%
The highest voter turnout was recorded in Dadra and Nagar Haveli with 85% polling and the lowest in Jammu and Kashmir's Srinagar with 25% polling.
Meanwhile, 73% turnout was recorded for the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab and 60% in the seven seats in Bihar. Daman and Diu recorded a turnout of 76%.
Gujarat saw moderate polling with recording a 62% voter turnout for all it 26 LS seats and Telangana registered 70% polling for all 17 Lok Sabha seats. Uttar Pradesh saw 57.10% polling for 14 Lok Sabha seats and West Bengal 81.35% for 9 seats.
6.57 pm: AAP welcomes FIR against Modi, says he is 'habitual offender'
Welcoming the FIR registered against Narendra Modi for violating the election law, the Aam Aadmi Party today called BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate a habitual offender who has been consistently violating poll norms and model code of conduct.
"Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP candidate from Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency, Narendra Modi has been consistently violating the election laws and the model code of conduct during the ongoing campaigning.
"The Election Commission's direction to the Gujarat government for registration of an FIR against him on Wednesday is only an indication of the habitual offences being committed by Mr Modi and the BJP," AAP said a statement.
The party has already approached the EC for another alleged poll violation in Varanasi when Modi undertook a roadshow before filing his nomination from the temple town on 24 April.
6.15 pm: 2 FIRs filed against Modi for violating poll code
After direction from the Election Commission, the Ahmedabad Crime branch has filed two FIRs against Narendra Modi.
The BJP's prime ministerial candidate came under the EC scanner after he flashed the BJP's election symbol and gave a speech at a place where elections were being held. This goes against the model code of conduct.
5.46 pm: Dadra and Nagar Haveli sees high voter turnout of 75% till 3 pm
Meanwhile, nearly 75 percent of the electors Wednesday voted in Dadra and Nagar Haveli for the lone parliamentary seat in the union territory, officials said.
Poll officials said 74.42 percent voting was recorded till 3 pm and the percentage was likely to go above 80 percent by the time voting ends.
The prominent candidates are incumbent MP Natubhai Gomanbhai Patel of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Mohanbhai Sanjibhai Delkar of the Congress, Janiyabhai Chandubhai Khulat of the Nationalist Congress Party and Chhotubhai Babubhai Patel of the Aam Aadmi Party. Seven others are also in the fray.
Over 200,000 electors, including 46 percent women, are eligible to vote. Over 26 percent of the electorate is in the 18-25 age group.
Balloting is taking place at 163 polling booths.
In 2009, the BJP had polled 46.43 percent votes, while the Congress had polled fractionally less at 45.87 percent. The overall voter turnout was 73.23 percent.
4.05 pm: Modi has done nothing wrong, says BJP
In its first reaction to the Election Commission notice on its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, the BJP has said that he did not violate the model code of conduct.
Party spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi speaking to media said, "We respect EC, whatever EC's verdict will be, we will abide by it. According to us Mr.Modi did not violate any code of conduct".
3.22 pm: Gujarat police to file FIR against Modi on EC directions
Following the Election Commission order, the Gujarat police will now file an FIR against its Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Times Now, quoted police sources as saying that following the EC directive, they were under obligation to file an FIR against Modi at the police station near where his address to the media took place.
If a candidate is found guilty of displaying the party symbol or election material, the candidate can face upto two years in jail, a fine or both.
Here is the full text of the EC order:
Meanwhile the Congress has welcomed the EC decision.
"We welcome this order. Narendra Modi is a habitual offender of Election Commissions orders. He released his party's manifesto on the 7th and today he was virtually campaigning for his party. The EC should act firmly and swiftly. Stern action should be taken against him. Everyone in the country will know that a person who is a candidate for prime minister is violating guidelines openly and knowingly and has no respect for constitutional norms", said Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed.
2:50 pm: What the EC said while seeking action against Modi
"The Commission is of the view that by holding that meeting and also by addressing the same today when the polling is going on in the entire state of Gujarat and in different parts of the country, Narendra Modi has violated the provisions of Sections 126 (1)(a) and 126 (l)(b) of RP Act 1951."
"Therefore, the Commission directs...that complaint/ FIR as the case may be, should be filed against Narendra Modi and all others who were involved in the convening and holding of the said meeting...," the EC order said.
It has asked the Gujarat Chief Secretary and DGP to send a compliance report by 6 PM today.
It also said that all the TV channels and other electronic media which carried the proceedings of the meeting and displayed the election matter should also be proceeded against under Section 126 (l) (b) "by filing separate complaints/FlRs against those channels."
The EC took the decision after going through the video recording of the address of the BJP's Prime Ministerial pick at a meeting in Gandhinagar after he cast his vote today.
It said from the substance, tone and tenor of the address made by Modi and the statements made by him and the manner in which the symbol 'Lotus' was displayed by him, "the said address was in the nature of political speech intended and calculated to influence and affect the result of elections in the constituencies going to polls today, not only in Ahmadabad but also in all other constituencies in the state of Gujarat and elsewhere in the country."
2:40 pm: EC directs FIR against media channels for telecasting Modi press meet
CNN-IBN reports that the Election Commission has also directed that an FIR be filed against television channels that telecast the live broadcast of the Narendra Modi press meet after he voted in Ranip, Ahmedabad.
2:00 pm: EC tells Gujarat authorities to take action against Modi, could face upto 2 years in jail
The Election Commission seems to have taken the matter of Modi holding a lotus during his press conference pretty seriously.
CNN-IBN reports that the Election Commission has told the Gujarat government to take action against him under section 126 1(b) of the Representation of People's Act.
The section of the law prevents the holding of a press meet and showing any election campaign material including party symbols 48 hours before polling has ended.
PTI reports that the election commission has directed the Gujarat administration to file a complaint/FIR against Narendra Modi for "violating" election law.
The commission has also asked the Gujarat administration to furnish a compliance report by 6 PM today.
If a candidate is found guilty of displaying the party symbol or election material, the candidate can face upto two years in jail and a fine or both.
1.41 pm: EC must take action against Modi, says Samajwadi Party
The Samajwadi Party today termed as 'unfortunate' that a person aspiring to be the next prime minister had to flout election commissin rules by displaying the party symbol outside a polling booth.
"The Election Commission must take cognizance and take appropriate action," SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said.
12.55 pm: Voting percentages till 11 am
West Bengal continued to show an upward trend in polling percentage with 44 percent of the electorate casting their vote till 11 am.
Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Bihar saw 25 percent of the electorate vote while Gujarat was lagging behind at 19 percent.
12.35 pm: EC seeks report on alleged poll violation by Modi
After the Congress party complained against BJP's Modi flashing the BJP party symbol at a press conference in Gujarat, the Election Commission has asked the district collector to immediately submit a report on the incident.
Meanwhile, a scuffle broke out between Congress and BJP workers in Ahmedabad after they fought over where their polling table should be set-up.
11.57 am: In Kashmir, voters defy boycott, come out to vote
In Kashmir’s Budgam district brisk polling is underway as people queue in long lines, defying a poll boycott and the threat of violence. Hundreds of men and women stood outside polling booths in Nowgam, Chadoora, Watoora, and Charar-e-Sharief to cast their votes, Firstpost correspondent Sameer Yasir reports.
Residents in many villages have defied the boycott call, but voters in the city of Srinagar have stayed away from polling stations. Srinagar city, were Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Union Minister and sitting MP Farooq Abdullah cast their vote in Ram Munshi Bagh polling booth, wears a deserted look.
Till 10:45 am out of 829 votes 37 has people has cast their votes in the polling station.
Farooq Abdullah is seeking a re-election from Srinagar constituency that has 12.31 lakh voters. In 2009, Srinagar Lok Sabha seat recorded 25.25 percent voting.
Protesters clashed with security forces in in Batwani village of Ganderbal in Central Kashmir. Out of over 2200 voters, 35 people has cast their vote till 11:00 am.
11.50 am: Veteran BJP leader LK Advani casts his vote
Contesting for Gandhinagar for the fifth consecutive time, senior BJP leader LK Advani today cast his vote in Ahmedabad, Gujarat much after BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi voted in Gandhinagar.
Speaking to reporters after casting his vote, Advani praised the election commission for successfully conducting the largest democratic exercise. "This is the most remarkable election held in the history of the country," he said.
11.34 am: Vadodara heading for a record voter turnout?
Till 11 am, Vadodara, the seat from where BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi is contesting, has seen a voter turnout of 32 percent and is likely to beat its previous dismal record of 49 percent in 2009.
BJP workers, speaking to our senior news editor Kavitha Iyer, expect a lull in voting till 4 pm as Gujarat is facing a heatwave. Voting, however, is expected to pick up between 4 and 6 pm.
11.15 am: 25% voting in West Bengal till in first two hours
Telangana and Punjab saw 14 percent of its electorate come out and vote till 9 am this morning, while constituencies of West Bengal that went to polls today saw 25% of voters exercise their right.
Srinagar, which has traditionally seen a low voter turnout due to militancy, saw 4% of its electorate come out and vote.
10.51 am: In UP, 12% voting recorded till 9 pm
Nearly 12 percent voters exercised their franchise in the first two hours in Uttar Pradesh, where polling is underway in 14 seats to decide the fate of 233 candidates.
UP Governor BL Joshi, BSP supremo Mayawati, Congress candidate from Lucknow Rita Bahuguna Joshi and BJP leader Kalraj Mishra were among those who exercised their franchise.
Dhaurahra witnessed 15.6 percent polling in the first two hours while Sitapur and Mishrikh recorded 14.8 and 10.82 percent polling respectively.
Unnao recorded 9.58 percent polling, Mohanlalganj 8.6 percent, Lucknow 9.9 percent, Rae Bareli 10.4 percent, Kanpur 9.6 percent, Jalaun 10.8 percent, Jhansi 15.2 percent, Hamirpur 11.6 percent, Banda 13.54 percent, Fatehpur and Akbarpur had 11.62 and 14.1 percent respectively.
10.05 am: Why do you need special treatment? Angry voter confronts Chiranjeevi
Union Minister and Congress candidate Chiranjeevi had to face angry voters at a polling booth today when he jumped the queue to cast his vote.
"Why do you need special treatment? There are people already waiting in line," an angry voter asked him, following which Chiranjeevi attempted to pacify the man.
Speaking to reporters later, Karti the voter who reprimanded Chiranjeevi said, "I respect him, but he should follow the queue. He is not over 65 years or disabled."
"I wouldn't mind if Chiranjeevi alone had to jump the queue.. he's a VIP and has work to do. But his family should stand in a line... I have nothing against VIP culture," he told Times Now.
When asked how he felt standing in a queue and if he had ever done it before, Chiranjeevi said: "Yes, yes... in my childhood I stood in queues... we must respect democracy and the voting process."
— ANI (@ANI_news) April 30, 2014
9.40 am: Congress complains against Modi for holding BJP symbol near poll booth
The Congress has complained against BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for holding a BJP symbol near the polling booth in Gandhinagar. Modi who addressed the media for a lengthy amount of time after casting his vote, was firmly holding on to a Lotus symbol while displaying his indelibly inked finger. Whether he displayed the symbol while casting his vote is not yet known. 9.15 am:'Apologise for not giving Gujarat enough time' Addressing the media after casting his vote, Modi urged people to come out and vote in large numbers saying "the Maa-beta government has been ousted" and that these elections were about development and progress. Flashing a BJP logo in his hand, clearly keeping in mind television cameras, Modi said the BJP will form government at the Centre as the Congress has already accepted defeat. "They are talking about support from the Left... it shows they have already accepted defeat." Modi further said that for the Congress, these elections were only about "Modi, Modi and saving the PM chair, while for the BJP it was about saving the country." Highlighting the issues people should keep in mind before voting, Modi urged voters not to forget Nirbhaya, inflation and the attack on soldiers in J&K. "We must give our maa-betiyon respect and protection," he said.
9.00 am: Crowds cheer as Modi casts vote in Gandhinagar
There were chaotic scenes outside a polling booth in Gandhinagar after BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi walked out of the booth after casting his vote.
Flashing a V sign, the streets were thronged with BJP supporters chanting pro-Modi slogans.
Modi is contesting from the Vadodara seat against Congress's Madhusudan Mistry.
In a tweet earlier this morning, Modi said he was blessed to cast his vote from Gandhinagar where LK Advani is contesting.
On my way to vote. I consider myself extremely blessed & fortunate to be a voter in Advani ji's Parliamentary Constituency.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 30, 2014
8.30 am: 'Urge Dalits, weaker sections of society to vote'
After casting her vote in Lucknow, BSP Chief Mayawati urged voters across the country and specially the Dalits and weaker sections of society to come out and vote.
"Dr Ambedkar gave everyone the right to vote... we must appreciate this power and exercise our right to vote," she told reporters.
7.51 am: Congress, TRS battle for Telangana
17 constituencies in what will soon be the new state of Telangana go to polls today, with political bigwigs including TRS chief K Chandrashekhar Rao, his daughter Kalvakuntla Kavitha and Congress leader Jaipal Reddy seeking to return to Lok Sabha.
The two parties - TRS and Congress - were earlier expected to come together after the creation of the new state but thanks to the TRS's decision not to do so, they will face off against each other and hope to keep out parties like the Telugu Desam Party.
In Andhra Pradesh, N Chandrababu Naidu and his Telugu Desam Party are expected to make sudden, big gains, if pre-poll surveys conducted are to be believed.
Seen as a divided state, the data thrown up by the latest phase of the Election Tracker survey by CSDS-Lokniti shows that while the Telangana Rashtra Samiti has expectedly gained in popularity in Telangana, going from an estimated votes share of 26 percent in February to 34 percent in the March survey, it is the TDP that has made the biggest gains in Seemandhra, going from 45 percent estimated vote share in February to 33 percent in the March survey.
Here's what opinion polls had to say about the outcome:
7.00 am: Rajnath, Sonia, Advani and Modi all up for election today
30 April may not be the biggest day of polling, but it is certainly among the more high profile. In the fray today are Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her BJP counterpart Rajnath Singh, veteran leader LK Advani and of course, the name behind the wave - Narendra Modi.
Among the 89 constituencies across the 9 states going to polls today are Rae Bareli and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh and Gandhinagar and Vadodara in Gujarat. Additionally the regions in the newly declared state of Telangana will also go to polls today, with cities like Hyderabad and Secunderabad due to vote.
Other big names in the fray today include Farooq Abdullah, the former Chief Minister from Jammu & Kashmir who has been engaging in a bitter war of words with Modi. Abdullah is standing from Srinagar.
Challenging Modi in Vadodara is Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry, while senior leader Shankarsinh Vaghela is contesting from Sabarkantha. AAP, striving to emerge as the third alternative, has fielded candidates in 24 constituencies.
Gujarat will also have by-election to seven Assembly constituencies on 30 April, with a total of 104 candidates in the fray.
One of the other constituencies to watch closely is Gandhinagar where Advani will contest against Congress leader Kiritbhai Ishvarbhai Patel.
Advani has been the sitting Gandhinagar MP since 1999. The veteran leader's decision to contest from Gandhinagar was in controversy after he recently expressed the desire to contest from Bhopal and was later convinced by senior BJP leaders to stick to Gandhinagar.
Along with Gujarat, Punjab will also witness polling in a single phase today with leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha and BJP leader Arun Jaitley pitted against former state chief minister Amarinder Singh in the keenly fought electoral battle in Amritsar.
Jaitley is fighting his maiden Lok Sabha polls and a victory is likely to propel him to a position of power if the NDA forms the government, while Amarinder's win will revive his political fortunes and he will again emerge as the key Congress leader in the state which has 13 Lok Sabha constituencies.
Punjab will also witness a contest between SAD's Harsimrat Kaur with her brother-in-law Manpreet Badal (Congress) in Bhatinda.
While Congress leader Ambika Soni is contesting from Anandpur Sahib, Bollywood star and former Union minister Vinod Khanna is contesting from Gurdaspur.
Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur is seeking another term in Lok Sabha from Patiala.
In Jammu & Kashmir, Srinagar is the sole constituency that will vote today. National Conference chief and Union minister Farooq Abdullah is seeking re-election from the seat which has seen a poor voter turnout in the past due to militancy. The Union minister is pitted against 11 others, the most formidable among them being former state finance minister and PDP leader Tariq Hameed Karra.
In this phase, a total of 13.83 crore voters will have the right to vote in seven states and two Union territories that will in all elect 89 MPs. Elections are already over in 349 constituencies in the first six phases.
-- end of updates for 24 April --
7.59: Election official killed, 5 injured in militant attack in J&K
Tragic news comes in as the election day is coming to an end with an election official being killed in Jammu and Kashmir.
Four others have been injured in the attack.
7.08 pm: WB, Puducherry see high voter turnout of 82%
While Mumbai continued to lag behind, West Bengal recorded a high voter turnout of 82% till 6 pm. The state saw brisk polling through the day.
Meanwhile Maharashtra on the whole recorded a 53.33%, a marginal rise as compared to the turnout of 44.87% in 2009. Like West Bengal, Puducherry also saw high polling with 82% voter turnout. Jharkhand recorded an average 63.44% polling.
Madhya Pradesh recorded 64.4% turnout for 10 seats, Tamil Nadu 73% for 39 seats and Rajasthan 59.2% for 5 seats said the EC. Chhattisgarh recorded 62.5% turnout, Bihar 60% for 7 seats
each, and Assam 77.05 % for 6 seats, they said.
Uttar Pradesh recorded 58.58 % polling for 12 seats, said the Election Commission.
7.05 pm: 53.1% voting in Mumbai till 6 pm
Mumbai saw a poor voter turnout today with only 53.1% polling till 6 pm.
As per initial figures by the Election Commission, total voting in six Mumbai constituencies till 6 pm was something like this:
Mumbai North - 52.00%
Mumbai North-West - 50.00%
Mumbai North-East - 53.00%
Mumbai North-Central - 55.00 %
Mumbai South-Central - 55.00%
Mumbai South - 54.00%
6.28 pm: 55% polling in UP, 59% polling in MP recorded till 5 pm
Over 55.40 per cent voters exercised their franchise till 5 PM in Uttar Pradesh, where polling is going on in 12 seats in the third phase to decide fate of 188 candidates.
Hathras witnessed 55.4 per cent polling in the first four hours while Mathura and Agra recorded 53 and 60.2 per cent polling respectively. Fatehpur Sikri recorded 56.84 per cent polling, Firozabad 56.16 per cent, Mainpuri 59.8 per cent, Etah 53.6 per cent, Hardoi 53.8 per cent, Farukhabad 56 per cent, Etawah 52.03 per cent, Kannauj and Akbarpur had 56.86 and 52.72 per cent respectively.
Meanwhile, a total of 59.04 per cent voting was recorded till 5 pm in Madhya Pradesh, where polling is underway for 10 Lok Sabha seats in the final phase amid reports of poll boycott from a village in Khargone district. "So far 59.04 per cent electorate including 67.60 percent men and 49.89 per cent women have cast their votes," Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer, Jaideep Govind told reporters.
5.42 pm: Uttar Pradesh records 46 pc voter turnout till 3 pm
Over 46.77 per cent voters exercised their franchise till 3 PM in Uttar Pradesh, where polling is going on in 12 seats in the third phase to decide fate of 188 candidates.
Hathras witnessed 48.4 per cent polling in the first four hours while Mathura and Agra recorded 50.2 and 49.96 per cent polling respectively.
Fatehpur Sikri recorded 47.2 percent polling, Firozabad 53.8 percent, Mainpuri 44.4 percent, Etah 42.94 percent, Hardoi 44.2 percent, Farukhabad 43.4 percent, Etawah 41.9 percent, Kannauj and Akbarpur had 51.9 and 43.1 percent respectively.
5.31 pm: Chhattisgarh sees 56 percent polling till 4 pm
Around 56 percent of the electorate cast their vote till 4 pm in the seven Lok Sabha seats in Chhattisgarh, where the last phase of polling is taking place today amidst tight security.
Polling has been by and large peaceful in the state till now.
An average 56 percent voter turnout was recorded in the seven constituencies - Raipur, Durg, Bilaspur, Janjgir-Champa (SC), Raigarh (ST), Surguja (ST) and Korba - till 4 pm, State Joint Chief Electoral Officer DD Singh told PTI.
5.30 pm: 21% polling in J&K, 48% in Rajasthan till 3 pm
Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency in south Kashmir witnessed 21 percent polling till 3 pm today, with Pulwama district recording a low voter turn-out of five percent.
Meanwhile Rajasthan saw a voter turnout of 48% till 3 pm.
5.02 pm: Maharashtra sees 35% polling till 3 pm
Nineteen Lok Sabha constituencies in Maharashtra where polling is underway in the final phase of elections recorded an average of 35.92 percent voter turnout till 3 pm.
Constituency-wise voting figures are as follows: Nandurbar-ST (46.10%), Dhule (38.37%), Jalgaon 36.77%), Raver (38.528%), Jalna (41.86%), Aurangabad (34.88%), Dindori (ST) 45.24%, Nashik (39.24%), Palghar ( 30.25%), Bhivandi (25.28%), Kalyan (27.35%) Thane (27.35%) Mumbai North (40.07%), Mumbai North West (37.35%), Mumbai North East (35%), Mumbai North Central (36%), Mumbai South Central (32.06%), Mumbai South (29%) and Raigad (43%).
4.50 pm: Jharkhand sees over 55% polling, Bihar 47% till 3 pm
An estimated 55.93 per cent of the electorate voted till 3 pm in the four Lok Sabha constituencies for the third and last phase of polling in Jharkhand today.
Meanwhile, 47% voter turnout was recorded till 3 pm in seven Lok Sabha seats of Bihar where voting is underway in the third phase today.
4.01 pm: Tamil Nadu sees whopping 60 percent voter turnout by 3 pm
In Tamil Nadu, the average voting has crossed 60 percent by 3 pm. Officials said by 1 pm, the average voting was 47.19 percent, with Virudhunagar recording 58.74 percent. The lowest turnout was in Central Chennai, where only 35 percent had voted by 1 pm.
In Pondicherry, 67 percent of the voters had cast their votes by 3 pm. West Bengal also witnessed almost 70% turnout as of 3pm.
This is in stark contrast to Mumbai which had seen only 35% voting till 3 pm.
4.01 pm: 42.29 percent voting recorded in MP till 2 pm
About 42.29 percent voters exercised their franchise till 2 pm today for 10 Lok Sabha seats in the third and final phase of polling in Madhya Pradesh.
"Polling is going on peacefully and so far 42.29 percent electorates including 49.82 percent men and 34.27 percent women have cast their votes," Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer, Jaideep Govind told reporters in Bhopal.
Meanwhile, reports of poll boycott were received from Khargone's Satavada village (Polling Booth no. 15) on the issue of lack of basic facilities.
Besides, only five votes were polled till now at Polling Booth No. 142 in Ratlam's Jaora town on the same issue, the CEO said. Efforts are on to persuade people to exercise their
right to franchise by concerned officials but they are not relenting, he said.
The poll percent in ten Lok Sabha seats in MP is as follows: Vidisha (42.57%), Dewas (44.05%), Ujjain (38.28%), Mandsaur (47.91%), Ratlam (41.67%), Dhar (38.07%), Indore (40.52%), Khargone (48.92%), Khandwa (41.21%) and Betul (39.69%).
3.17 pm: TMC workers beaten up by security personnel in WB
In Khargram block in Bengal's Jangipur constituency, there have been reports of security personnel beating up Trinamool Congress workers.
Bengali news channel 24 Ghanta reports that in booths 204 and 205 in Khargram there were reports that the paramilitary personnel have beaten up TMC workers. One TMC worker has allegedly been hospitalised with serious injuries.
His colleagues disrupted voting in protest and staged a demonstration outside the polling booths.
2.59 pm: 40% voting in Rajasthan, 35% in Chhattisgarh as of 1 pm
Almost 40 percent of over eight million electors cast their ballots in the first six hours of voting in Rajasthan's five Lok Sabha constituencies.
"Till 1 pm, as per tentative information received, we have recorded 39.84 percent polling in these five constituencies," an official told IANS.
While, incidents of minor scuffles between rival political parties were reported from a few polling booths, voting was largely peaceful in the state.
Long queues were seen early in the morning with voters lining up to beat the heat in this desert state.
Meanwhile Chhattisgarh saw 35 percent polling till 1 pm in seven parliamentary constituencies of Chhattisgarh during the third and final phase of Lok Sabha polls in the state today.
"Around 35 percent of the electorate exercised their franchise in Raipur, Durg, Bilaspur, Janjgir-Champa (SC), Raigarh (ST), Surguja (ST) and Korba Lok Sabha seats till 1 pm," Joint Chief Electoral Officer DD Singh told PTI.
So far no violence has been reported from these regions where polling will conclude at 6 pm this evening, he said.
2.24 pm: 37 percent voting in Bihar as of 1pm
Around 37 percent polling was recorded till 1 PM in seven Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar where voting is underway in the third phase today.
Supual registered 39 per cent voting till 1 pm, while it was 38 percent in Araria, 37 percent in Kisanganj, 38 per cent in Katihar, 37 per cent in Purnia, 35 percent in Bhagalpur and also in Banka, an Election Commission statement said.
There was report of delay in polling in 20 booths in Katihar due to snags in EVM machines. There were also reports of technical problems in EVMs in some other constituencies also which were rectified later, election office sources said.
BJP star contestant Shahnawaz Hussain took a round of polling stations in Bhagalpur to find out if there were any irregularities.
Stakes are high for the party today as five of the seven seats going to polls today were won by the party in 2009. One each were held by rivals Congress and JD(U).
2.17 pm: Shutdown in four districts of poll bound Kashmir
Four districts of south Kashmir, where polling is being held today, observed a shut down following a call given by hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
Shops, business establishments and petrol pumps were shut while public transport was off the roads, officials said.
The effect of the strike was accentuated due to the holiday declared by the Election Commission on poll days in the respective constituencies.
Geelani had last week asked people to observe a "civil curfew" on 24, 30 April and 7 May when voting will be held for the three Lok Sabha constituencies of Anantnag, Srinagar and Baramulla respectively.
12.46 pm: Manmohan Singh casts vote from Assam
I don't think the country as a whole will be struck by any Modi wave, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after casting his vote with his wife in Assam.
— Arijit Sen (@senarijit) April 24, 2014
12.21 pm: 15 percent polling recorded in Bihar Around 15 percent polling has been recorded in the first three hours in seven Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar where voting is on today in the third phase. There was report of delay in polling in 20 booths in Katihar due to problems in EVM machines, election office sources said. In Purnea, an elderly woman who was the first to cast her vote in a booth was presented with a flower by the poll official. BJP star contestant Shahnawaz Hussain took a round of polling stations in Bhagalpur to find out if there were any irregularities. Stakes are high for the party today as five of the seven seats were won by the party last time in 2009. One each were held by rivals Congress and JD(U). 12.00 pm: Polling suspended in some areas of WB over allegations of EVM fraud ABP Ananda reports that in the Balurghat Lok Sabha constituency the BJP is alleging that whatever button is being pressed, the vote is going to Trinamool. Voting has been suspended in some places. The BJP is demanding a repoll. BJP office bearers said several other EVMs like these will surface. Balurghat's Trinamool nominee theatre personality Arpita Ghosh has been questioned on the issue of the Saradha scam since she had worked for one of the media companies floated by Saradha. The opposition thinks that's why she is vulnerable. This is also her first campaign. Meanwhile about 28 percent turnout has been recorded in the six Parliamentary constituencies of the state. "About 28.79 per cent polling was recorded on an average in the first three hours of polling," state's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sunil Gupta said. 11.30 am: Jharkhand records 13.37 percent polling in first two hours An estimated 13.37 per cent polling was registered till 9 am in the four Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand where polling is on in the third and last phase today. Polling is on in Dumka, Raj Mahal, Godda and Dhanbad seats where a total 72 candidates are in the fray. A total electorate of 61,04,050, including 28,84,434 women, is expected to exercise their franchise in 7,454 booths in the four constituencies. 11.00 am: Over 11.2 percent voter turnout in Uttar Pradesh Over 11.2 percent voters exercised their franchise in the first two hours in Uttar Pradesh, where polling is going on in 12 seats in the third phase to decide fate of 188 candidates. Hathras witnessed 13.2 percent polling in the first two hours while Mathura and Agra recorded 12.4 and 11.6 percent polling respectively. Fatehpur Sikri recorded 12 percent polling, Firozabad 12.2 percent, Mainpuri 8.82 percent, Etah 11 percent, Hardoi 10.8 percent, Farukhabad 11.8, Etawah 9 percent, Kannauj and Akbarpur had 11 and 10.7 percent respectively. In Mumbai, the voter turnout was said to be 8 percent as of 9pm. Some other state figures - 14.31 percent in Tamil Nadu, 17 percent in Assam and 20 percent in West Bengal. 10.50 am: Celeb spotting in Mumbai It's a good day to be a celebrity stalker - just hang out in Mumbai's polling booths today! Bollywood celebrities Rekha, Vidya Balan, Sunny Deol and Sonam Kapoor were among the early-morning voters who gave a head start to voting in Mumbai today. In Mumbai and also across the state, voting began on a brisk note with most of the voters seemed keen to avoid the sweltering heat of the last two days. Actress Vidya Balan was among the first Bollywood celebrities to cast her vote. Vidya, who lives in suburban Juhu after her marriage with UTV head Siddharth Roy Kapur, cast her vote at a Chembur booth. When asked about her voting in Chembur, she said laughing, "Why not.. this gives me a chance to come to Chembur..I do come often". "Its my responsibility to vote... to point fingers at others and (if) I face a problem, I need to have this on my finger," she said displaying her inked finger. Yesteryear actress and Rajya Sabha member (nominated) Rekha came in a track suit to exercise her right to franchise. Actors Sunny Deol and Sonam Kapoor also cast their votes. 9.48 am: Cong distributes slips offering rice for votes in West Bengal? In West Bengal, the Congress party seems to be taking vice-president Rahul Gandhi's right to food promise rather seriously. Bengali news channel 24 Ghanta reports that allegations of 'bribing' are flying thick and fast against Jangipur candidate Abhijit Mukherjee, son of President Pranab Mukherjee. Now Abhijit is considered a bit of a political greenhorn who no one knew existed before Pranab took on the mantle of the president and gave his son his seat as a gift. Understandably, therefore, the Congress might be trying to pull out all stops to make sure the hitherto unheard of Mukherjee son wins. The TMC has complained that in Radharghat block of Jangipur, coupons stamped with the official seal of the gram panchayat have been distributed. In the said coupons, Congress party has allegedly promises ten kilos of rice to anyone who possesses the coupon and votes for Congress. The CPM has also alleged that canvas cloth has been stocked in the ancestral Mukherjee house and people are being given money to vote for Mukherjee. The EC has been alerted by both rival parties. Meanwhile Polling in Bengal is averaging around 20 percent until now in most places says Bengali television, Jangipur where the president's son is the Congress candidate is at 22 percent. There have been sporadic reports of complaints of election observers from parties being turned away from various booths implicating various parties. The elections today will largely determine if the foothold the Congress has in Bengal is also slipping. These are the seats where the Congress is the strongest, its bastion almost. It includes people like Deepa Das Munshi, railways minister Adhir Chowdhury and Mausam Noor of the Ghani Khan Chaudhury family in Malda. 9.35 am: HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh has no vote in Mumbai! Goof ups at the polling booth are the great election equaliser. HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh has just found that his name was not on the voter list in Mumbai according to CNBC TV 18, and was therefore unable to cast his vote. 8.55 am: Samajwadi Party leaders scoff at Modi wave in polling booths The Samajwadi Party bigwigs are all voting today, and all continue to scoff at reports of a Modi wave. "The Third Front will play a key role after elections; there is no Modi wave", was state chief minister Akhilesh Yadav's terse message to the waiting cameras. This sentiment was echoed by Shivpal Yadav who also reiterated the absence of the Modi wave. SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav who was an early voter in the state went one further, saying that Modi was in Gujarat and no where else in India. Today's polling in Uttar Pradesh will take place in 11 constituencies located in the western and central parts of the state. From Rampur, which is the stronghold of Samajwadi Party's Azam Khan, to the return of Maneka Gandhi to Pilibhit, the Thursday polls will spawn many interesting stories for 16 May -- the day of counting. Read more about these here 8.35 am: Long lines in Jammu and Kashmir for voting People turned up early at polling booths as voting for the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat in Jammu and Kashmir began Thursday, officials said. As many as 12 candidates are in the fray in Anantnag, one of six Lok Sabha constituencies in the state. Over 1.2 million electors are eligible to exercise their franchise in 1,615 polling booths. This is the third round of voting in the state. Balloting will be completed in five phases. Voting in two Lok Sabha constituencies has been completed. 8.06 am: Everyone should vote, says Rajnikanth If you're in Tamil Nadu and you still haven't voted, you better do so now, for the superstar has spoken. Speaking to reporters after casting his vote, Rajnikanth's three-word message for his fans was: Everyone should vote. When asked whether he supported any particular candidate, he said: I don't support anyone. 7.49 am: Confident of win, will beat Milind Deora, says Sanyal AAP's South Mumbai candidate Meera Sanyal has expressed confidence of winning the seat in this election, saying there was a huge wave in favour of her party. "You should have seen the amount of support I got during my street campaigns, I will win this time," she said. In the 2009 polls, Sanyal lost to Deora wining only around 10,000 votes. Meanwhile, here is actor Rahul Bose after casting his vote.
7.47 am: SMS to find out queue at polling booth in Coimbatore
The district administration has come out with a SMS-based system to help the voters to know the number of voters in the queue at polling booths, so that they can accordingly adjust their time and reach there to cast their votes in the polls scheduled today.
7.35 am: In Vidisha, Sushma battles Digvijaya's brother
Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj is facing a tough contest in Vidisha against Congress's Laxman Singh, brother of party's General Secretary Digvijaya Singh. Swaraj had a smooth passage in the 2009 elections due to a virtual walkover from the Congress. She won by over 3 lakh votes.
7.25 am: Mulayam dismisses any Modi wave in UP
Speaking to reporters after casting his vote early this morning, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said there was no Modi wave in India. "Modi is only in Gujarat, nowhere else," he told reporters in Uttar Pradesh.
7.00 am: Voting begins in crucial phase six of LS polls
The phase six of Lok Sabha elections will see 2076 candidates battle it out in 117 constituencies across eleven states 11 states and the Union territory of Puducherry. Of the 117 seats, Congress currently has 37 while BJP has 24. India's financial capital Mumbai will also go to vote today, where the NCP-Congress alliance will fight it out against the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance. After today's polling, 2/3rd of India's electorate would have voted.
Updates for 17 April end
7.43 pm: Voter turn-out by states
West Bengal: 79.47 % Karnataka: 56% Bangalore South: 43% Bangalore North: 45% Bangalore Central: 42% Bellary: 64% Rajasthan 53.24% (till 5 pm) Barmer: 61.31% Pune: 51.2% Odisha: 70% (6 pm) Bihar: 54% (5 pm) Uttar Pradesh: Pilibhit: 61% (5 pm) Rampur: 64.8% (5 pm) Madhya Pradesh: 52% (5 pm)
5.39 pm: 60 percent voters cast ballot in Naxal-hit areas of Chhattisgarh About 60 per cent of electorate cast their votes till 3 PM in three Naxal-hit Lok Sabha constituencies in Chhattisgarh during the second phase of polling, which has so far remained peaceful. "The voter turnout of 60 per cent was recorded in Kanker, Rajnandgaon and Mahasamund seats till 3 pm and no violent incident has been reported from the region so far," Joint Chief Electoral Officer DD Singh said, adding that polling in the seven insurgency-hit Assembly constituencies in these seats has concluded at 3 PM. 4.35 pm: Meanwhile, in Uttar Pradesh, 49.61 percent voters cast their ballots by 3 pm Brisk polling is underway in 11 seats in the second phase of polls in Uttar Pradesh with over 49.61 per cent polling recorded till 3 PM to decide fate of 150 candidates. According to EC sources, Nagina witnessed 53.24 per cent polling while Moradabad 54.4 per cent and Rampur 47.9 per cent polling each. Similarly Sambhal recorded 51.40 per cent polling, Amroha 51.4 per cent, Badaun 44.2 per cent, Aonla 47.2 per cent, Bareilly 52.6 per cent, Pilibhit 48.6, Shahjahanpur 45.83 per cent and Kheri 49.15 per cent. In this phase, polling is being held in Moradabad, Rampur, Sambhal, Amroha, Badaun, Bareilly, Pilibhit, Shahjahanpur, Nagina, Aonla and Kheri. The prominent candidates who are in fray includes Maneka Gandhi, Santosh Gangwar, Saleem Sherwani and Begum Noor. PTI 4.26 pm: Manipur records highest turn-out of voters Manipur recorded the highest turnout of 62 percent while Jharkhand recorded the lowest percentage of 28.07 voters exercising their franchise till 2 pm in five states in eastern India that went to polls today. Sixty percent voters exercised their vote in West Bengal while 45 percent voters cast their ballot in Odisha. Polling is underway in 11 seats in Odisha, seven in Bihar, six in Jharkhand four in West Bengal and one in Manipur to decide the electoral fate of 366 candidates. Polling was also being held for 77 Assembly seats in Odisha where 747 candidates, including 65 women, were contesting. In Jharkhand, three CRPF personnel and a civilian driver were injured in a landmine blast by Maoists, who also fired on a CRPF patrol injuring one personnel in near Jhumra hills in Bokaro district. Maoists blew up railway lines in the district disrupting train services. A pressure cooker bomb was recovered near a polling booth in Maoist-hit Saranda forest, an hour before polling began in the Singhbhum (reserved) constituency, police said. From PTI 3.47 pm: Thirty one percent of Maharashtra votes till 2 pm Even as the efforts are made to encourage the people to vote, Sriram Rajangam, a resident of Chinchwad in Pune came from China to cast his vote on Thursday. Rajangam, who is a manager with a multi-national company, is a resident of Empire Estate in Chinchwad. He spent almost Rs 78,000 to come here from China and has cast his vote in the Maval Lok Sabha constituency. "Everyone must vote. If I can come to cast the vote by spending Rs 78,000, then the people here can come out to vote," Rajangam told reporters after casting his vote. PTI 3.14 pm: 45 percent of Odisha votes till 2 pm An estimated 45 percent voters exercised their franchise till 2 PM for the simultaneous second and last phase of the elections to 11 Lok Sabha and 77 Assembly constituencies in Odisha today. Angul district recorded the highest polling of 52.3 per cent, followed by Keonjhar with 51 per cent and the lowest was over 32 per cent in Puri district, official sources said. PTI 1.49 pm: Even Hitler could not run his own country, says SP's Azam Khan Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan has once again hit out at BJP's PM candidate comparing him to Hitler. He also said the Election Commission's decision to censure him was unfair as "the Election Commission did not consider other versions in the case."
1.25 pm: In Jharkhand, 4 CRPF jawans injured in Maoist violence
Four CRPF personnel were among five people injured today in Maoist violence in Jharkhand's Bokaro district where polling is currently underway.
Targeting a CRPF patrol, Maoists triggered two landmine blasts at Lalpania near Jhumra hills, injuring three personnel and a civilian driver, CRPF (26th Battalion) Commandant Sanjay Kumar said. Read more here.
12.30 pm: Brisk voting in Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh
Chhattisgarh recorded 30 percent voting till 11 am while constituencies that went to polls in Uttar Pradesh recorded a 27 percent voter turnout.
In Bihar, 22 percent of the electorate came out to vote, while 20.67 percent cast their vote in Rajasthan.
12.05 pm: Here's Kan Singh and Hanuman Singh after casting their vote in Ajmer!
— Urvashi Dev (@urvashidev) April 17, 2014
10.46 am: 2014 polls could see the highest voter turnout ever
An increase in voter awareness, especially in rural and semi-urban areas, has led to an increase in voter participation with every passing general election.
According to a report in the Hindustan Times, "As many as 68.29% of voters in 111 Lok Sabha seats that have gone to the polls so far exercised their franchise. This is about eight percentage points higher than the polling percentage in these constituencies in 2009. The overall polling percentage in 2009 was 58.19% when 714 million people were eligible to vote. The highest polling ever recorded was 61.97% in 1998," the report says.
10.18 am: Voting percentage till 9 am
Most of the states where polling is on today have recorded above 10 percent voting in the first two hours till 9 am.
9:50 am: Political heavyweights cast their ballot
As the day has passed the big leaders in the fray from across parties have come out to vote and make a final endorsement for their respective candidates.
BJP's Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has cast his ballot in Uttar Pradesh and said that he was confident that the party would win 60 seats in the state and over 350 in India.
Expelled senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh voted and said that it was sad that his former party was resorting to caste politics to defeat him.
"I received an incredible response from the people here," he told CNN-IBN.
He also denied that there was any Modi wave in the region. But he admitted there was definitely a heat wave.
Cousins and NCP leaders Ajit Pawar and Supriya Sule have also cast their vote but only Sule is in the fray today.
"There is no Modi wave- its just a creation of the media. We are confident that the NCP will do well and the UPA will form the next govt at the Centre as well," Pawar said.
Congress candidate Jyotiraditya Scindia, one of the few who may be on solid ground when it comes to this election, took the opportunity to mock the BJP.
"I am sure my 5-year development will bear me fruit," he said.
And even social activist Anna Hazare, despite his criticism of every political party, didn't let it hold him from casting his ballot.
"Everyone should cast their vote , it is a national responsibility. If you don't like the candidate , can go for NOTA," the activist said.
Here's the activist after he voted.
Ralegan-Siddhi : Anna Hazare after casting his vote pic.twitter.com/SmO0PGPvym
— ANI (@ANI_news) April 17, 2014
9.30 pm: Long queues of voters in Jammu and Kashmir
Long queues of voters were seen in the wee hours of the morning in Udhampur town, as the polling started in Udhampur-Dooda Lok Sabha constituency in Jammu and Kashmir.
But reports from Chinab valley’s Doda and Kishtwar district said that in the first two hours of polling, very few people turned to vote, says Firstpost reporter Sameer Yasir.
A total 14.1 lakh voters will decide the fate of 13 candidates including Congress stalwart Ghulam Nabi Azad and BJP national spokesperson Jitender Singh.
The security arrangements have been beefed-up across the constituency particularly in Chinab valley to ensure free and fair polls. Authorities have deployed 10,000 policemen and 166 companies of Central Para-military forces to ensure smooth conduct of elections.
The upper heights of Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban districts have been taken over by the army to thwart any possibility of any attempt by the militants to strike.
The constituency comprises 17 Assembly segments — five in Kathua district, three each in Udhampur and Reasi districts and two each in Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar districts. The authorities have declared 32 polling stations in Doda district critical.
8.37 am: 'Fifth phase most crucial for Modi'
Today's polling across 121 seats will be a big test for BJP's PM candidate Modi as he will look to win big in areas where his party and NDA allies have earlier won, as well as make inroads into new areas.
Karnataka, Odisha and West Bengal are perhaps the main focus of the BJP in this phase, Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay writes in The Economic Times.
"There are 11 seats in Naveen Patnaik's bastion and four in the crucial north Bnegal region. The remaining 100-odd spread across Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Jammu and Kashmir are significant because the impact of the so-called Modi-magic will be sternly tested," he writes.
8.19 am: Here is a quick look at the constituencies going to polls:
Voting began for the election to seven Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar under the second phase amidst tight security.
Many of the seven constituencies of Patna Sahib, Patliputra, Nalanda, Jehanabad, Munger, Ara and Buxar are situated in the Maoist belt.
An electorate of 11,85,07,86 will exercise their franchise in 11,846 polling stations to decide the fate of 117 candidates in the Lok Sabha constituencies.
Prominent among the candidates are actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha, former Home Secretary R K Singh, Lalu Prasad's eldest daughter Misa Bharti and her two uncles Ramkripal Yadav and Ranjan Yadav.
Single-phase polling for 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka began this morning to decide the fortunes of 435 candidates in a close fight between the ruling Congress and BJP.
Nearly 85,000 security personnel drawn from the state and central forces have been deployed across the state for free and fair polls, officials said. Armed police force from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra are also on duty.
About 4.62 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise.
Follow live updates from Karnataka here
The first of the five-phase Lok Sabha poll in West Bengal began today in four constituencies of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and Alipurduar.
Of the 47 candidates, including three women, four each were from Trinamool Congress, Congress, BJP and BSP, while two were from the CPI(M) and one each from the RSP and Forward Bloc.
There were also 19 others from other registered political parties and eight independents.
Prominent candidates were GJM-backed BJP candidate S S Ahluwalia and Trinamool Congress nominee Baichung Bhutia from the Darjeeling parliamentary seat, RSP sitting MP Manohar Tirkey from Alipurduar and CPI(M)'s Mahendra Roy in Jalpaiguri.
Voting opened today for the simultaneous second and last phase election to 11 Lok Sabha and 77 Assembly constituencies in Odisha.
Over 1.55 crore voters are eligible to record their choices in 18,692 booths, for which 1.41 lakh polling personnel have been requisitioned.
Spread over 13 districts, the voters will decide the fate of 98 candidates, including 11 women, in the Lok Sabha elections and 747 candidates, including 65 women, in the Assembly.
In Manipur, among the eight candidates contesting, prominent ones are sitting Congress MP Th Meinya, former Manipur University Professor R K Ranjan of BJP, former Manipur Rifles commandant S Manaobi of Trinamool Congress, senior CPI leader M Nara and the lone woman candidate O Indira an Independent.
The Congress held the prestigious seat for 10 years.
An electorate of 826,755, will ast their votes in 6,398 polling stations in the four valley districts of Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishenpur, and Thoubal.
Precautionary measures were taken in view of a call by militant outfit Manipur Maoist Party to boycott the poll.
Polling began for the six Lok Sabha constituencies of Giridih, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Singhbhum (ST), Khunti (ST) and Hazaribagh in Jharkhand under the second phase.
Jharkhand has 14 Lok Sabha seats.
Among 106 candidates, prominent are Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Karia Munda of BJP, Jayant Sinha, son of Jaswant Sinha, former Team India Manager Amitabh Chowdhury of JVM(P), former deputy chief minister, Suresh Mahato of Ajsu party and former Union minister Subodh Kant Sahay of Congress.
7.00 am: Biggest round of polling so far gets underway
Poling has got underway for 121 seats across 12 states including Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Bihar.
The BJP is counting on heavy gains in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar, while the Congress is hoping to claw back some advantage in the state of Karnataka, where it is expected to do well.
The polling in Bihar today is also crucial for beleaguered Chief Minister Nitish Kumar - his JD(U) is up against the BJP and RJD-Congress in central Bihar, where the party holds important seats like Arrah, Nalanda and Munger.
In Odisha, Naveen Patnaik's BJD is expected to do well, but in the final calculation of things, this is expected to benefit the NDA.
Other key candidates who will see their fortunes decided today include Nandan Nilekani, Veerappa Moily, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Sachin Pilot of Congress, Maneka Gandhi, Gopinath Munde, Shatrughan Sinha and Karia Munda of BJP and also the likes of former prime minister HD Deve Gowda of JD-S, Supriya Sule of NCP, Lalu Prasad's eldest daughter Misa Bharti, AAP's Gul Panag and TMC's Baichung Bhutia.
-- end of updates for 12 April --
7.56 pm: 70% voter turnout in Sikkim
The voter turnout was high in all the four states and electioneering was largely peaceful, IANS reported.
Dhirendra Ojha, director in the Election Commission, said in Delhi that Tripura's second Lok Sabha seat recorded a voter turnout of 81.8 percent, while Sikkim recorded 76 percent voter turnout.
Both of Goa's seats and Assam's three seats saw 75 percent balloting, said Ojha.
6.33 pm: 70% voter turnout in Sikkim
Almost 70 percent of the electorate in Sikkim on Saturday voted for the lone Lok Sabha seat and the 32-member state assembly in eight hours of polling, officials said.
Balloting picked up as the day progressed, as voters turned up in large numbers at the 538 polling booths across the state. Polling was scheduled to close by 5 pm, IANS reported.
3.02 pm: Goa sees 54% voter turnout; CM says likely to go up to 70%
Over half of the electorate voted Saturday in Goa by early afternoon to elect two Lok Sabha members, officials said.
Nearly 54 percent of Goa's 1,057,499 voters had cast their ballots since polling started at 7 am, said officials.
According to the poll officials, 283,109 voters cast ballots in North Goa, while in South Goa 289,179 voters had exercised their franchise till 1.40 pm. No poll-related untoward incident was reported, IANS.
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has predicted that the state would witness around 65 to 70 percent voting.
Voting started at a brisk pace, with long queues at polling stations across Goa.
3.02 pm: Tripura sees 66 percent voter turnout by 2 pm
Two-third of the voters Saturday cast their ballots till afternoon for the second Lok Sabha seat in Left-ruled Tripura, an official said.
Around 66 percent voters, the majority of them tribals, cast their ballots till 2 pm on Saturday, an election commission official said.
"Balloting took place in tribal reserve Tripura East constituency with no untoward incident reported so far. The polling was absolutely peaceful in the parliamentary constituency," Tripura Chief Electoral Officer Ashutosh Jindal told IANS.
The balloting started at 7 am and it will continue till 5 pm, one hour more than the previous elections.
3.02 pm: In Assam, more than 52 percent voting by 1 pm
Over 52 percent polling was recorded till 1 pm in three Lok Sabha constituencies in Assam, with the balloting process being peaceful, an official said.
IANS reported that balloting was brisk recorded in Silchar, Karimganj and Diphu (Autonomous District) after polling started at 7 am, the official said.
State Chief Electoral Officer Vijayendra said polling remained peaceful in all three seats. "There has been no report of any untoward incident from anywhere so far," he said.
In a few polling stations, however, technical snags in electronic voting machines were reported.
12.50 pm: Voters turn up in large numbers in Goa
Long queues formed Saturday at polling stations across Goa where balloting is being held in both its Lok Sabha constituencies, reports IANS.
Nearly 13 percent of Goa's 1,057,499 voters cast ballot within the first two hours since polling started at 7 am, officials said.
North Goa seat are sitting MP and BJP candidate Shripad Yesso Naik, Congress candidate Ravi Naik and Dattaram Desai from the Aam Aadmi Party. Aleixo Reginaldo from the Congress and BJP's Narendra Savoikar will fight it out for the South Goa seat.
And here's an image of one of the young voters in Goa
— Aaron Pereira (@aaronpereira) April 12, 2014
12.35 pm: Only 12 percent voting in Sikkim in the first two hours
Moderate voting was seen in Sikkim for the state's lone Lok Sabha seat Saturday, an official said, adding around 12 percent of the electorate had voted in the first two hours.
"Till 9 am, we recorded 12 percent voting," an official of the chief electoral office told IANS.
Sikkim has an electorate of 362,326, of whom 175,549 or 48.45 percent, are women.
11:30 pm: 22 percent voting in Assam, 25 percent in Tripura
In keeping with the high turnout seen so far, reports indicate that Assam had a 22 percent turnout till 10 am while in Tripura it was 25 percent.
There were reports of EVM initially malfunctioning in Autonomous District(ST) and Karimganj constituencies of Assam. They were replaced and voting continued uninterrupted.
Long queues of voters, including women and youth, were seen in front of the 3,698 polling booths of the three constituencies an hour before voting began amdist tight security, especially in Karbi Anglong district of Assam which till yesterday witnessed a bandh by militant Karbi Peoples
In Tripura, voters were seen standing in long queues in urban and rural polling stations of the constituency much before the voting started at 7 AM.
Voting began an hour and half late at a polling booth at Ambassa, the headquarter of Dhalai district as the EVMs there did not function properly and had to be changed.
Tribals, who form the majority of the electorate in the constituency, were seen waiting to cast their votes donning colourful traditional dresses and security personnel said no untoward incident was reported.
Women tribal voters outnumbered menfolk in the polling booths in rural and hilly areas of the state, which is witnessing the second phase of polling.
8.35 am: CM Manohar Parrikar casts vote in North Goa
The Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has cast his vote in North Goa and has expressed confidence that the BJP will return to power.
North Goa is a traditional BJP bastion, and Parrikar said he was confident that the party would return to power. "My performance in Goa and the Modi wave will help Goa return to power", Parikkar said to CNN-IBN.
8.00 am: Voting begins in Assam, Goa, Sikkim, Tripura
Voting for three Lok Sabha constituencies in Assam began on Saturday, officials said. Nearly 30 million are eligible to vote in these three constituencies.
According to the CNN-IBN CSDS poll tracker, despite the much-discussed Narendra Modi wave, Assam seems to be steadfastly clinging to its traditional Congress allegiance.
Unlike the trends elsewhere, the Congress is way ahead of others, including the BJP, when the choice of voters of the state is accounted for. The Lokniti, CSDS-IBN-National Election Tracker pre-poll survey indicates that although preference for the Congress has diminished a bit at 44 percent compared to the January figure at 47 percent, the party is still way ahead of its closest rival BJP which got just 19 percent. The near demolition of the regional outfit Asom Gana Parishad under former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and the weak organisational structure of the BJP, which is bereft of any big names and local leadership, have left the field open for the Congress to thrive.
Goa's two Lok Sabha constituencies also began voting on Saturday at 7 am. Over a million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in North Goa and South Goa constituencies.
The Lok Sabha constituency in Sikkim has also gone to vote today. Just six candidates are in the fray in Sikkim, and a total of 362,326 people will vote, of which 175,549 are women.
Voting has also begun in Tripura. As many as 1.13 million electorate are eligible to vote as 12 candidates battle it out for the Tripura East constituency.
End of updates for 11 April
7:44 pm: 60 percent voter tunrout recorded in "peaceful" elections across Mizoram
Nearly two-thirds of the voters cast their ballots Friday for the lone Lok Sabha seat and in a by-poll for an assembly segment in mountainous Mizoram. The elections passed off peacefully, officials said here.
Mizoram's joint Chief Electoral Officer H. Lalengmawia told IANS that a 60 percent turnout has been recorded and the final figure released on Saturday.
The state's Chief Electoral Officer Ashwani Kumar said the polling was peaceful and no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the state that borders Myanmar and Bangladesh besides Tripura and Assam.
1:20 pm: Mizoram sees 50 percent turnout by 2 pm
Despite a slow down in polling at midday due to the scorching heat, voter turnout was around 50 percent till 2 pm today for elections to the lone Mizoram Lok Sabha seat and by-poll to the Hrangturzo Assembly seat.
State Chief Electoral Officer Ashwani Kumar said the turnout would be higher than 50.93 per cent recorded in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls but it might not reach 83.41 percent as in the 2013 state Assembly polls.
Polling was completely peaceful in the 1,126 polling stations across the state, he said.
1:20 pm: Within three hours, one-third of Mizoram casts their ballots
Nearly a third of the electorate cast their ballot Friday in the first three hours in the lone Lok Sabha constituency and a by-poll for an assembly seat in Mizoram, officials here said.
Balloting for both Lok Sabha and assembly seat was earlier scheduled 9 April and it was postponed to Friday due to a three-day shutdown and boycott call by NGOs and students' groups, IANS reported.
An Election Commission official said that the balloting was peaceful so far and no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the state that borders Myanmar and Bangladesh.
"Young, new and women voters wearing traditional costumes lined up well before the polling stations open at 7 am First time voters are very excited to cast their ballots," the official told IANS.
7:00 am: Mizoram goes to the polls for its lone seat
Polling for the lone Lok Sabha seat in Mizoram which is witnessing a three-cornered contest, has begun.
The triangular contest is among ruling Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and United Democratic Front (UDF), which is an alliance of eight opposition parties.
UDF comprises the main oppisition party Mizo National Front (MNF) and BJP besides, Zoram Nationalist Party, Mizoram People's Conference, Maraland Democratic Front, Hmar People's Conference, Paite Tribal Council and NCP.
Congress has fielded its sitting MP C L Ruala, while UDF has nominated Robert Romawia Royte. AAP has put up Michael Lalmanzuala as its candidate for the seat.
Mizoram Lok Sabha seat has 7,02,189 voters, of whom 3,55,954 were women.
There are 1,126 polling stations and eight additional companies of central para-military forces apart from six state armed battalions and unarmed policemen have been deployed to ensure peace.
International borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh and inter-state borders have been sealed, official sources said.
End of updates for 10 April
8.00 pm: Uttar Pradesh increases voting percentage than 2009
A total of 1.74 crore electorate in 10 parliamentary seats in Uttar Pradesh today locked the future of 146 candidates on an incident free voting day.
As per latest reports from the Election Commission of India, the poll percentage was 65 percent, which is 14 percent more than 2009.
Here are the numbers for a few of parliamentary constituencies/districts of the state:
Aligarh: 60.04 percent
Baghpat: 65.60 percent
Bijnor: 65.38 percent
Bulandshr: 59.36 percent
Gautam Buddha Nagar: 55.83 percent
Meerut: 65.68 percent
Muzaffarnagar: 67.78 percent
Shahranpur: 70.64 percent
Shamli: 70.85 percent
Another state that went into polling is Madhya Pradesh. A turnout of 55.98 percent was recorded in the nine polling constituencies while Maharashtra registered 54.13 percent in the 10 parliamentary constituencies in Vidharbha.
In Jammu, 66.29 percent exercised their right to franchise.
6.30 pm: Naxals, security forces exchange fire in Gadchiroli
A minor skirmish was reported between security forces and Naxals in Maharashtra's Gadchiroli district in the afternoon. Naxals opened fire on election officials and security personnel near Gardewada in Etapalli Tehsil in Gadchiroli. No casualties have been reported so far. After retaliatory fire from security forces, the Naxals fled into the forest. The security personnel thwarted their plan to run away with the EVM machines.
Report by Vishwas Waghmode, Firstpost
5.00 pm: Over 41% polling in Vidarbha till 3 pm
The 10 Lok Sabha constituencies in Vidarbha have registered average 41.2 percent voting turnout in the first eight hours, reports Firstpost's Vishwas Waghmode. While the Gadchiroli-Chimur constituency has witnessed highest 59 percent, the Ramtek Lok Sabha constituency has registered lowest 36.35 percent voting turnout till 3 pm.
The constituencies-wise voting turnout till 3 pm as follows-
Buldhana - 44.00 percent
Akola - 39.04 percent
Amravati - 43.25 percent
Wardha - 40.77 percent
Ramtek - 36.35 percent
Nagpur - 39.23 percent
Bhandara-Gondiya - 45 percent
Gadchiroli-Chimur - 59 percent
Chandrapur - 43.49 percent
Yavatmal-Washim - 39.93 percent
The Naxal hit Gadchiroli-Chimur constituency has registered the highest voting turnout because the polling of four assembly constituencies—most sensitive areas—out of six has been completed. The voting in the rest of the two assembly constituencies will go on till 6 pm.
In the four most sensitive Assembly constituencies falling under Gadchiroli-Chimur Lok Sabha constituency, the polling ended at 3 pm. The polling in two other assembly constituencies will go on till 6 pm.
Earlier, the Election Commission received a complaint about a faulty EVM machine at a booth in the Bhandara-Gondiya Lok Sabha constituency. Although the voting was disrupted for an hour it started again after the replacement of the machine.
4.35 pm: Over 50 percent vote in Delhi
New Delhi: An impressive 52 percent polling was recorded till 3 PM in the Lok Sabha election for the seven seats in the national capital even as long queues of people were seen at the booths across the city.
"Around 52 percent of the 1.27 crore eligible voters cast their votes till 3 PM," a senior official of Delhi Election Commission said.
He said polling has so far been peaceful and there were no reports of any untoward incident.
There were reports of malfunctioning of electronic voting machines (EVM) in some parts of the city but they were rectified, the EC official said.
4.30 pm: Not much time, go out and vote
4.10 pm: Voter turnout in Bihar was 46.89 percent till 3 pm
3.24 pm: Maoists loot EVMs in Kotpad area, Odisha
Maoists have looted electronic voting machines in the Kotpad area of Odisha, said television channels.
This comes on the back of news that Naxals had opened fire on security officers in Chhattisgarh's Bastar area. Early morning two jawans were also killed in Bihar while they were en route to a polling station.
2.24 pm: Naxals open fire near polling booths in Bastar
Naxals opened fire on security forces near ten polling booths in Chhattisgarh's Maoist-hit Bastar Parliamentary seat, where around 30 percent of the electorate cast their votes till noon.
Besides, a huge haul of explosives, including 15 IEDs and three pressure bombs, were today recovered by security forces from separate places, averting a massive strike by the ultras in the insurgency-hit region.
"Naxals opened fire on security forces near around ten polling booths while voting was underway there. No injury or casualty was reported in the incidents," a senior police official told PTI.
Rebels fled to the forest after security personnel launched retaliatory attack on them, he said.
The polling booths where firing was reported are - Korra and Amirgarh in Sukma district, Samoli and Thanikarka booths in Dantewada district, Nednar booth of Narayanpur district, Padeli and Raigabodi in Kondagaon, he said.
Voting was suspended for few minutes in many of these places but presently it is undergoing smoothly, he said.
Polling in Bastar began from 7 am and around 30 percent turnout has been recorded till noon, according to Joint Chief Electoral Officer DD Singh.
The polling time in seven Assembly seats--Bastar, Chitrakot, Narayanpur, Bijapur, Konta, Kondagaon and Dantewada --in the region is till 3 PM while the single Jagdalpur Vidhan Sabha seat will witness polling upto 4 PM, he said.
At some sensitive polling booths, voting started after a short delay while EVMs machine were replaced at some polling booths, Singh said.
2.10 pm: AAP votes not registered in Ernakulam machine, charges party
The Aam Aadmi Party has reported that polling in an election booth in Ernakulam constituency had to be stopped by 11.30am after party workers protested said that AAP votes could not be registered.
AAP workers alleged that the voting machine in booth number 118 at Kalamassery polytechnic college was not recording the votes being casted for AAP.
Former journalist and documentary filmmaker Anita Pratap is the AAP candidate from this constituency.
12.37 pm: Prove your identity, poll officer tells Ghulam Nabi Azad
Union Health Minister and former state chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was today asked to prove his identity at a polling booth in the Jammu Lok Sabha constituency. Azad had gone to cast his vote at the DPS polling station at Jogi Gate area, but was refused permission by the presiding officer who demanded his identity proof. The matter was later settled when a local Congress leader went to stand surety for Azad's identity. - IANS
11.45 am: Peaceful voting in Jammu along international border
The state chief electoral officer has told Firstpost that polling in the first few hours in Jammu have been peaceful and incident free.
Voting was reportedly going on smoothly along International Border were stringent security arrangements are in place which is close to both International Border (IB) and the Line of Control (LoC).
Nearly 13 to 15 percent of voting was recorded in the first few hours of polling in Jammu city.
11.32 am: VK Singh confusion in Ghaziabad!
One confusion for Ghaziabad BJP voters is that most don't know VK Singh is Vijay Kumar Singh, says Firstpost editor Sandip Roy who is on the ground at Ghaziabad.
11.30 am: The polling percentage in the first 2 hours
Polling in the first two hours has been brisk across states, with a few exceptions like Bastar, in Chhattisgarh. This could well be because of Maoist threat.
This is significant, given that AAP is fielding Soni Sori from the area.
Sori is an Adivasi school teacher in Jabeli village of Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, India. She was arrested by the Delhi Police's Crime Branch for Chhattisgarh Police in 2011 on charges of acting as a conduit for Maoists.
Meanwhile here is a graph of how voting has taken place over the first two hours (9 am)
11.00 am: Polling sluggish in Bastar's Maoist dominated areas, Muzaffarnagar votes peacefully
Voting was sluggish in Bastar Lok Sabha constituency's Maoist-dominated forested areas, but the urban centres reported brisk polling. A Chhattisgarh election commission official told IANS that till 10 a.m., 18-20 percent votes had been cast and polling was peaceful.
There was a healthy turnout of voters in urban areas like Jagdalpur town. However, the enthusiasm was comparatively much less in the interior, forested areas which are dominated by Maoists. The polling was slow.
Over 1.29 million voters will decide the fate of eight candidates in the constituency where roughly 80 percent of the total 1,797 polling booths have been declared "ultra sensitive". The remaining 10 seats will see polling April 17 and 24. Bastar, which comprises six assembly segments, has more female voters at 665,290 than 633,681 male voters.
The main contest is between Bharatiya Janata Party nominee and sitting MP Dinesh Kashyap and Congress candidate Deepak Karma, son of late Mahendra Karma, the founder of the controversial Salwa Judum civil militia movement.
Aam Aadmi Party's Soni Sori, a tribal woman from the district now on bail after facing charges of acting as a conduit for Maoists, is also in the fray.
Reports say that polling is peaceful in Muzaffarnagar, where riots broke out in September. There was report of a clash between two groups at village Doongar. However, it was immediately controlled.
10.00 am: AAP complains of large scale rigging in Mewat
The Aam Aadmi Party has complained of large scale rigging in Mewat, a district that borders Rajasthanis part of the Gurgaon constituency.
Party leader Yogendra Yadav is contesting from there. He is up against Rahul Inderjeet Singh of the BJP. Mewat incidentally, is a Muslim dominated area where Yadav had received a lot of traction during campaigning.
Click here to read more about his rally there, which took place earlier this month.
Meanwhile this update from Firstpost editor Sandip Roy from Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh:
At Schiller school in Rajnagar Ghaziabad near Rajnath Singh's bungalow, PK Gupta says he is voting for development. Bhrastachar will not end but there should be vikaas alongside he says.
It does not matter if candidates are outsiders because its not like locals are always better, he says. Anuj Mehra getting into his car says it took 10 minutes to vote. Asked what his issue was he said development. Then he laughed and said you obviously know which party I voted for.
The codeword for BJP in this election for its voters seems to be the D word.
9.25 am: Markets hit new high as 91 seats go to polls
The markets have hit new highs even as brisk polling has been reported across the country. The Sensex has risen to 22,753 points while the Nifty went up to 6,810.
Here are some initial numbers from poll bound states:
An average 16 percent turnout was recorded in the first two hours of polling in 20 Lok Sabha constituencies in Kerala, which began this morning. According to the Election Commission, 6.9 percent voter turn out was recorded in the first hour itself.
In Uttar Pradesh, 12 percent polling was recorded in the first two hours of polling in Gautam Budha Nagar Lok Sabha seat.Polling for 10 Lok Sabha constituencies spread over 11 districts of Western Uttar Pradesh, including riot-hit Muzaffarnagar district, is underway.
According to Firstbiz analyst Arjun Parthasarathy:
The Narendra Modi-led NDA is widely expected to from the government at the centre post 16 May. The Sensex and Nifty are up by 7.4 percent and 7.9 percent in 2014 until now and could well trend much higher going into 16 May and post that date as well.
It could well be a case of the equity bull market just starting off all over again. To be sure, the Sensex and Nifty have hardly performed since peaks seen in end 2007 or early 2008 and has just about returned around 5 percent on an absolute basis over a 6 year period. In fact, bonds have outperformed equities by at least 6 percent CAGR over the last six years.
9.10 am: A look at how the poll bound states votes in 2009:
With polling well under way in all 91 constituencies, here is a quick look at how the votes went in 2009. Will the Modi wave change all that this year?
8.52 am: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat appeals to people to vote
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has appealed to all voters to come out and cast their votes. When asked about the 'Modi wave' however he said, "I don't know about that".
8.15 am: Brisk voting reported in all 10 UP constituencies
Brisk voting has been reported in all of Uttar Pradesh's 10 Lok Sabha constituencies.
Voting is going on peacefully in all the 10 constituencies of western Uttar Pradesh, an election commission (EC) official told IANS.
The polling which began at 7 am will go on till 6 pm, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of UP, Umesh Sinha said.
He added that voting slips reached the voters prior to balloting.
Instructions have also been issued to personnel manning the polling booths to ensure that the indelible ink is properly put on voter's index finger and that they have not put any lotion or any other substance to remove the ink.
The 10 seats for which polling is being held are Ghaziabad, Bijnore, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Kairana, Baghpat, Gautam Budh Nagar (Noida), Bulandshahr and Aligarh.
No untoward incident has been reported and brisk voting began since morning.
There are 154 candidates in the 10 seats that have gone for voting Thursday.
8.00 am: Polling begins in Lakshwadeep, Andaman - Nicobar islands
Polling in the Lakshadweep Lok sabha constituency in the Lakshadweep Islands began this morning.
There are 44 polling booths in the Island territory comprising 27 islands, of which only 10 are inhabited, including the headquarters island of Kavaratti.
Six contestants are in the fray for the lone seat with a close fight between sitting Congress MP, Hamdullah Sayeed, son of former Union minister, late P M Sayeed and P P Mohammed Faisal of NCP.
Balloting has also begun for the lone Lok Sabha constituency in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
There are 257,856 voters in the union territory, almost evenly balanced between 136,356 men and 121,500 women.
Voting is taking place at 386 polling booths.
7.55 am: Large number of people outside Jammu polling station
A large number of people can be seen outside many polling stations in Gandhi Nagar Jammu, says Firstpost reporter Sameer Yasir. The polling began at 7 am for Jammu-Poonch parliamentary constituency, were 1848154 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise.
The Election Commission has established 2,274 polling stations in Jammu, Samba, Rajouri and Poonch districts.
The constituency has over 50,000 first time voters registered with the Election Commission.
About 11,377 polling staff has been deployed besides huge contingent of police and paramilitary personnel to conduct the polls.
7.38 am: Maoists attack jawans en route to polling station
Two CRPF jawans were killed and three others injured when Maoists triggered an explosive, when they were on way to a polling station in Jamui parliamentary constituency of Bihar early morning, police said. CRPF and Bihar Police team were travelling in two jeeps when the Maoists triggered an IED planted under the bridge they were crossing, near Sawa Lakh Baba Mandir at the entrance of Bhimbandh jungle, DSP Khargpur Ranjan Kumar told PTI.
The two CRPF jawans succumbed to their injuries on way to a hospital while the three other injured were taken to the Sadar Hospital in Munger district, about 170 km from state capital Patna. The incident took place at around 5:30 am, one and a half hours before the start of polling in the Jamui (SC, reserved) constituency.
LJP President Ram Vilas Paswan's son Chirag Paswan is in the fray from the Jamui parliamentary constituency against Bihar Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary of JD (U) and Sudhanshu Shekhar Bhaskar of RJD.
7.00 am: Big polling day as Delhi, UP, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana go to polls
The big leagues as far as polling goes, starts today. Voting has begun for 91 seats across 11 states and three union territories, including all seats in Delhi, Haryana and Kerala and several in UP, Bihar, Odisha and Maharashtra. Voting for the lone seat of Chandigarh will also take place today.
The 'Modi wave' will be tested to its limit today, given the heavy BJP campaigning in all the poll bound states.
Here is a quick look at the scenario in these constituencies:
In Delhi, the Congress which won all seven Lok Sabha seats in 2009, is facing the prospect of a rout at the hands of the BJP and AAP.
In Chandigarh, incumbent MP Pawan Kumar Bansal is up against actors turned politicians Kirron Kher (BJP) and Gul Panag (AAP). What should have been an easy task for him could however, be impacted heavily by the railgate scandal which he has been associated with.
In Bihar, the big question is whether incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's gamble to break his party's 17-year-old alliance with the BJP. The pre poll surveys suggest that it has not, and predict a definitive win for the BJP.
In Uttar Pradesh, where the Amit Shah led BJP has centred much of its pre poll campaigning, the party is expected to perform very well. However regional factors like the Samajwadi Party (Whose Azam Khan has been taking on Amit Shah) and Mayawati's Bahujan Samajwadi Party cannot be ruled out.
In Kerala, the Congress-led UDF is expected to retain its hold in the state despite the anti-incumbency against the UPA government. The Lokniti-IBN survey predicted that the alliance should win most of the parliamentary seats in the state.
Parts of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra will also go to the polls today. In Odisha, Naveen Patnaik's BJD is expected to retain a majority, while Maharashtra, the BJP-Shiv Sena combine is expected to win.
-- end of updates for 9 April 2014 --
8:24 pm: Amid turbulent day for polls, Nagaland registers 81% turnout
Nagaland registered 81.47 percent polling, Manipur 80 percent, Meghalaya 71 percent and Arunachal Pradesh 55 percent, according to election office sources, Zee News reported.
Polling was not held in a disputed area in Longleng district of Nagaland bordering Assam.
5:48 pm: Arunachal records 45 percent polling
Around 45 percent of Arunachal Pradesh's electorate cast their votes in the simultaneous elections on two Lok Sabha seats and the state assembly, even as voting was suspended in four polling booths after miscreants burnt down poll material, officials said.
"We decided to withhold the election in four polling stations after miscreants burnt down poll material and voting machines in Sarli polling station in Kurung Kumey district," state Chief Electoral Officer Chandra Bhushan Kumar said, IANS reported.
"Voting in two other polling stations in Sisiang village in East Siang was suspended due to a boycott call by villagers protesting poor road connectivity."
"Around 45 percent polling was recorded till 1 pm and we expect the voting percentage to cross 60 percent," Kumar said.
4:54 pm: In Meghalaya 53% voters cast their ballot by 3pm
Meghalaya recorded 53 percent polling till 3 pm, as voting took place at a brisk pace with people turning out in huge numbers to elect two Lok Sabha members from the state, IANS reported.
"Around 53 percent of the 15,67,241 electors voted till 3 pm in Shillong and Tura," State Chief Electoral Officer Prashant Naik said.
The voting percentage is expected to be around 65 percent at the end of voting 5 pm
"I am hopeful we are going to cross the 64 percent voter turnout recorded in the 2009 election," Naik said.
2.50 pm: Over 50 percent voting in Manipur
Over 50 percent voters had cast their ballot as of 2 pm in the Outer Manipur Lok Sabha constituency, as polling was held for one of the two seats in the northeastern state, officials said.
Police and Election Commission officials said balloting took place peacefully in 1,406 polling stations in the tribal reserved constituency with no untoward incidents reported so far.
"Over 50 percent voters have so far cast their votes in Outer Manipur. No reports of any untoward incidents so far," a poll panel official told reporters.
1.55 pm: Wild elephants obstruct poll officials in Meghalaya
Voting picked up Wednesday for the two Lok Sabha seats in Meghalaya, even as the firing of blanks was reported near a polling centre and wild elephants obstructed officials from visiting two polling booths in the state.
"Around 39 percent of the 15,67,241 electors voted till 1 pm in Shillong and Tura," State Chief Electoral Officer Prashant Naik said, adding that the turnout is expected to increase as the day progresses.
Meanwhile, suspected insurgents fired blanks near the Tolegre polling booth in South Garo Hills district under Tura parliamentary constituency.
"We don't know who was behind the firing as it took place near a jungle," said district police chief Lakardor Syiem, adding that balloting continued there.
A herd of wild elephants, meanwhile, disrupted movement of election officials to two polling booths - Nokchi and Halchatti - under Tura.
"Wild elephants blocked the road disrupting movement of sector election officials to two polling booths - Nokchi and Halchatti," South West Garo Hills District Magistrate Ram Singh told IANS.
The road was cleared as forest guards chased away the elephants into the forest.
1.25 pm: Sixteen faulty EVMs replaced in Arunachal
As many as 16 Electronic Voting Machines were today replaced after they developed technical snags during voting for the two Lok Sabha seats and 49 out of 60 Assembly seats in Arunachal Pradesh, the EC said today.
State Chief Electoral officer Chandra Bhusan Kumar said polling process halted for a brief period after three EVMs developed technical snag in three booths at Naharlagun, while 13 EVMs were found defective during mock polling (6 am to 7 am) before formal voting begun.
"We are well prepared for such a situation and enough EVMs are kept in reserve to conduct the poll process smoothly," Kumar said.
Two separate EVMs have been used in each polling s
1.00 pm: 40 percent votes cast in Manipur as of noon
About forty percent of 9 lakh voters have already cast their votes in the the Outer Manipur Lok Sabha constituency till midday, electoral officials here said today.
People dressed in traditional attires were seen in queues before polling booths in all the five hill districts of Ukhrul, Senapati, Chandel, Tamenglong and Churachandpur, where central security forces have been deployed in strength.
Chief Electoral Officer O Nabakishore said all deputy commissioners of hill districts have been instructed to take every precautionary measure.
A total 10 contestants from BJP, Congress, Trinamool Congress, Naga People's Front, NCP, JD(U) and Aam Admi Party, besides three independents are in the fray.
The candidates whose fate is being decided today are sitting Congress MP Thangso Baite, Gangmumei Kamei (BJP), C Doungel (NCP), Kim Gangte (TMC), Soso Lorho (Naga People's Front), L Gangte (JD-U) and M K Zou (AAP).
The last phase of polls in the state will be held on 17 April for the Inner Manipur seat.
11.21 am: Arunachal voters flocking to booth to vote in Lok Sabha and Assembly elections
According to PTI reports, not even the rains could stop enthusiastic voters from lining up outside the poll booth at 6 am to vote.
Long queues of women and youth could be seen in most of the polling stations waiting patiently for their turn to cast their votes.
"We want to cast our vote as early as possible because we will have to attend to household chores for the rest of the day," said 45-year-old Godak Yami from Niti Vihar.
Youths, including first time voters in the state comprising 12.5 percent of the total electorate of 7,53,150, also flocked to the booths in hordes.
10:30 am: Security personnel block EC staff in Nagaland village
PTI reports that polling is yet to begin today in a disputed area under Longleng district of Nagaland bordering Assam where security forces have prohibited entry of polling officials and setting up of a polling station.
Longleng Superintendent of Police James said tension was prevailing along the border area between Yanglok and Ladaigarh
villages after Assam Police along with CRPF personnel prohibited the entry of polling officials and setting up the Ladaigarh Polling Station (PS) No. 1 under 49 Tamlu Assembly Constituency in the district.
Ladaigarh polling station with an electorate of 302 is located at the government lower primary school which has been occupied by Assam Police since 2007 despite a Supreme Court order to maintain status quo.
8.34 am: Will Congress hold on to its dominance in poll bound states?
A big turnout has been reported from the four poll bound states, and the question now is whether this means Congress will be able to maintain its firm hold in the region.
Here is a look at how the voting in these states took place in 2009:
7.38 am: Voting begins in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal and Manipur
Voting has begun in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal and Manipur. Here is a quick look at some key facts about the poll bound constituencies.
The voting for the two parliamentary constituencies (Shillong and Tura) in Meghalaya began amidst tight security.
Early reports said that both men and women have queued up outside polling stations in large numbers.
The ruling Congress in the state is pitted against fractured regional parties for the two Lok Sabha seats.
In Shillong parliamentary constituency, there are eight candidates, including lone woman candidate Ivoryna Shylla, who is fighting the election as an Independent.
However, all eyes are on the Tura parliamentary constituency where former Lok Sabha Speaker and NPP candidate Purno Agitok Sangma is pitted ranged against the Congress' Daryl William Cheran Momin.
Agatha K.Sangma, the youngest parliamentarian in the current Lok Sabha representing Tura constituency, quit the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and decided not to contest the April 9 election to make room for her father, Purno Sangma, who had earlier represented the constituency nine times and has served as a speaker of the Lok Sabha.
Balloting began Wednesday for Arunachal Pradesh's two Lok Sabha constituencies and 60-member state assembly. In 2009, the Congress won both the Lok Sabha seats - Arunachal West and Arunachal East.
A total of 11 Congress candidates, including Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, have been elected unopposed to the assembly.
There is just one Lok Sabha seat in the state of Nagaland, where Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio of the Naga People's Front is pitted against Congress candidate KV Pusa.
Polling has got underway for one of the two Manipur Lok Sabha seats, that of Outer Manipur. The Inner Manipur constituency will vote on 17 April.
-- end of updates for 7 April --
5.10 pm: AGP workers block NH-37
Allegations of massive rigging by the Congress party at the Samaguri Assembly constituency that falls under the Kaliabor parliamentary seat have led to the blockade of the national highway 37 by the Asom Gana Parishad workers leading to a huge traffic jam. The highway connects west and east Assam and is a lifeline of the Brahmaputra Valley.
According to media reports, in one of the poll booths the presiding officer had announced that 80 percent of voting was over by 1 pm leading to doubts of rigging. In the same booth, the AGP polling agent was beaten up allegedly by Congress workers and thrown out of the booth. So far, none of the senior district officials have reached the spot.
The allegations assume importance as Assam Chief Minister Traun Gogoi's son Gaurav Gogoi is a Congress candidate from the constituency.
4.30 pm: Voting trends
As per data available till 4 pm on the polling ratio, Kaliabor had recorded 72 percent, Dibrugarh 64 percent, Lakhimpur 67 percent, Tezpur 67 percent and Jorhat 69 percent.
4.10 pm: Voting may continue beyond 5 pm
Voting may extend in the five constituencies in Assam provided there are long queues outside the polling booth. These voters will be issued coupons to enable them cast their votes. In Tezpur, there are allegations that many EVMs voting malfunctioned affecting voting in many poll booths.
3.30 pm: Voter turnout nears 50 percent in Assam
According to the latest reports that came in Assam has registered 49.64 percent voter turnout till 1.30 pm. Here are the breakups as per the five constituencies: Tezpur - 53.89 percent, Kaliabor - 51.04 percent, Jorhat - 48.02 percent, Dibrugarh - 45.82 percent, Lakhimpur - 49.43 percent
1.28 pm: Thirty five percent polls cast in Assam as of noon
Thirty-five per cent of the 64,41,634 voters had exercised their franchise till noon today in five Lok Sabha constituencies of Assam where four persons clashed with CRPF personnel demanding that they be allowed to cast their vote first in Kaliabor constituency.
Election office sources said 27 percent voting was registered in Tezpur, 45 percent in Jorhat, 32 percent in Lakhimpur, 38 percent in Dibrugarh and 30 percent in Koliabor during the first phase of elections in the state.
With a large turnout of voters, long queues were seen in front of the 8,588 polling stations one hour before voting began at 7 am, particularly in the rural areas where poll campaigning was intense.
A considerable number of the 6.5 lakh first time voters in the age group of 18 to 19 years registered in the state this time, were seen enthusiastically lining up to participate in the poll process.
Most of the early morning voters were women who said they wanted to cast their ballot before they began their housework for the day.
According to reports, 33 electronic voting machines (EVMs) malfunctioned in Dibrugarh, Kaliabor, Tezpur and Lakhimpur constituencies. Of them, 29 were later replaced while snags in the others were rectified and voting continued uninterrupted, they said.
Four persons, including a woman, suffered injuries when they clashed with CRPF personnel demanding they will allowed to cast their vote early at a voting centre in Sarupathar Silonijan area of Kaliabor constituency, police said.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, his wife Dolly Gogoi as well as his son and Koliabor constituency Congress candidate Gaurav Gogoi cast their vote in Jorhat.
12.20 pm: 25 percent votes cast in Assam as of 10 am
Over 25 percent of the 64,41,634 voters exercised their franchise during the first three hours of polling to decide the fate of 51 candidates in five Lok Sabha seats in Assam amidst tight security today.
With polling beginning at 7 am, Tezpur recorded 20 percent, Jorhat 22 percent, Lakhimpur 25 percent, Dibrugarh 20 percent and Koliabor 30 percent votes till 10 AM, election office sources said.
Polling has remained peaceful so far.
12.00 pm: There is no Modi magic in Assam, says Tarun Gogoi
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today said there was no 'Modi magic' in the state and Congress would win more than ten seats.
"There is no Modi magic, but Tarun Gogoi magic in Assam. Earlier, I have said we'll win ten seats, but now I am sure Congress will get more than that," he told reporters after casting his vote here.
"The so-called Modi wave is the creation of private electronic media channels, but the Congress wave is there in the fields, plains and hills of Assam," Gogoi said.
The polling percentage in the current Lok Sabha polls in the state was expected to cross 75 percent turnout in the 2011 state assembly elections, he said.
Referring to Kaliabor, where his son Gaurav Gogoi is contesting as a Congress candidate, the chief minister said the people of the constituency had a lot of love and affection for him and his family and they came out in large numbers since 6 am to cast their votes.
"Gaurav will definitely win from Kaliabor and the polling percentage will be among the highest in the state," he said.
Gogoi was accompanied by his wife Dolly Gogoi to the polling booth, while his son also cast his vote earlier in the same booth.
Former Union Minister and Jorhat MP Bijoy Krishna Handique, seeking a seventh consecutive term in Parliament, also cast his vote in the same polling booth.
11.00 am: Women outnumber male voters in tribal Tripura
About fifteen percent votes were cast within two hours of voting in Tripura West Lok Sabha constituency, where polling began at 7 AM today.
Of the two constituencies - Tripura West and Tripura East (ST), election is being held in Tripura West constituency today where about 15 percent voters exercised their franchise till 9 AM, sources in the state Election department said.
People were seen standing in long queues much before polling began in front of the booths in the capital city.
Senior citizens, including women, were seen standing in the queues.
While male voters outnumbered female voters in the state capital and other towns, women were more in number in tribal compact areas like Mandai and Burakha,.
Tribal women dressed in traditional attire had lined up before the booths.
Tea shops and snack vendors were doing brisk business.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, BJP candidate and President of the party Sudhindra Dasgupta, state secretary of CPI-M Bijan Dhar, Congress Candidate and former Vice- Chancellor Arunoday Saha, TMC candidate Ratan Chakraborty exercised their franchise in different polling stations of the capital city.
Security forces were deployed in adequate number in all the polling stations.
No untoward incident was reported from any part of the poll-bound areas.
Polling for the Tripura East (ST) seat will be held on 12 April.
10.00 am: Assam records 12 percent polling in first two hours
People queued up at polling booths in Assam's five constituencies as balloting began in the first phase of the Lok Sabha election Monday. The state recorded 12 percent voting in the first two hours, officials said here.
The polling started at 7 am in most of the polling stations, barring a few polling booths under Kaliabor and Tezpur Lok Sabha constituencies where the process was delayed due to some technical snags in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
People were seen queuing up at most of the 8,588 polling booths since early hours in the morning.
An estimated 6.4 million people are eligible to vote in Tezpur, Jorhat, Kaliabor, Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur constituencies.
A total of 51 candidates are in the fray in the first phase.
8.20 am: Will Congress retain Assam?
Here is a quick look at how Assam voted in the last elections.
Of the five Assamese constituencies that go to the polls today, Tezpur voted for the Asom Gana Parishad in 2009, while Kaliabor, Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur all voted Congress.
The Congress party was the biggest party in the state in 2009, sending 7 MPs to the Lok Sabha.
Tripura West which goes to polls today is a CPM stronghold.
According to the CNN-IBN CSDS poll tracker, despite the much-discussed Narendra Modi wave, Assam seems to be steadfastly clinging to its traditional Congress allegiance.
Unlike the trends elsewhere, the Congress is way ahead of others, including the BJP, when the choice of voters of the state is accounted for. The Lokniti, CSDS-IBN-National Election Tracker pre-poll survey indicates that although preference for the Congress has diminished a bit at 44 percent compared to the January figure at 47 percent, the party is still way ahead of its closest rival BJP which got just 19 percent. The near demolition of the regional outfit Asom Gana Parishad under former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and the weak organisational structure of the BJP, which is bereft of any big names and local leadership, have left the field open for the Congress to thrive.
Among the 51 candidates, Union ministers Ranee Narah and Paban Singh Ghatowar, former Union minister and sitting MLA Bijoy Krishna Handique, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's son Gourav Gogoi and Bhupen Kumar Bora are for the Congress.
Congress rebel and Independent candidate Moni Kumar Subba is also in the fray.
For the BJP, its unit president Sorbananda Sonowal and Kamakhya Prasad Tasa are contesting while AGP's nominees are Arun Kumar Sarma, Pradip Hazarika and Joseph Toppo.
This time around, in addition to the much talked about 'Modi wave', the TMC is expected to make a strong play for the state.
7:30 pm: Polling peaceful across Assam and Tripura
CNN-IBN reports that polling has begun peacefully in all the constituencies and there are no reports of violence in Assam despite it being the foundation day of militant group Ulfa.
7:00 am: Polling begins in Assam and Tripura
This election will begin relatively calmly with two states going to the polls to elect legislators for 6 constituencies. Five seats in Assam and one seat in Tripura will go the polls today with over 76 lakh voters expected to cast their ballot.
In the state of Assam, where the Congress is in power, the grand old party will face off against the BJP, Trinamool Congress, AIUDF, AGP, AAP, SUCI, CPI(M), AIFB and SP, who will all be hoping to take advantage of the anti-incumbency against the United Progressive alliance.
The five constituencies which will go to the polls today are Tezpur, Koliabor, Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur.
An electorate of 64,41,634, including 31,20,067 women, will cast their vote in 8,588 polling stations and will have to choose between a list of candidates that features former ministers and rising leaders.
The 51 candidates in the fray for the five seats include union ministers Ranee Narah and Paban Singh Ghatowar, former union minister and sitting MLA Bijoy Krishna Handique, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's son Gourav Gogoi and Bhupen Kumar Bora for the Congress.
Congress rebel, and now an independent candidate, Moni Kumar Subba will be joining other opposition candidates like BJP state unit chief Sorbananda Sonowal and AGP's candidates Arun Kumar Sarma, Pradip Hazarika and Joseph Toppo.
For the seat of Tripura West, there is expected to be a multi-cornered contest between the CPM, Congress, TMC and BJP.
Among the 13 candidates, major contestants in the fray include are CPM's Shankar Prasad Dutta, Congress' Arunoday Saha, BJP's state unit chief Sudhindra Dasgupta, and chairman of the state unit of TMC Ratan Chakraborty.
The CPI(M) has won the seat ten out of 15 times between 1952 and 2009. Since 1996, the CPI(M) has consistently won this seat.
Of the 12,46,794 voters for this seat 6,34,702 are men and the remaining women. Altogether 1,605 polling stations have been set up for the constituency of which two have been identified as very
vulnerable and 486 as vulnerable.
Manoj Kumar, Patna
Undeterred by scorching summer heat and threats by some leaders, a relatively huge numbers of voters cast their votes in the sixth and final round of the sixth-phase parliamentary elections in Bihar today. An average 51 percent of voters had cast their votes tillin Bihar, much to the satisfaction of the poll panel which worked hard to create awareness among them about the voting rights.
A maximum of 54 percent voters cast their votes in Vaishali, followed by 53 percent each in Valmikinagar and east Chamaparan, 52 percent in west Champaran, 48 percent in Siwan and 45.74 in Gopalganj.
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