Voting begins in fourth phase of LS polls on 71 seats in 9 states


Agencies, New Delhi Voting began at 0700 hrs on Monday for the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections in 71 parliamentary constituencies spread across nine states . The polling commenced in Jammu and Kashmir on one seat, 13 seats each in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, six in Madhya Pradesh, 17 in Maharashtra, five in Bihar , three in Jharkhand , six in Odisha , eight in West Bengal and one in Sikkim. In several polling booths across the states, voters could be seen lined-up before 0700 hrs, eagerly waiting to participate in world's largest democratic excercise. An electorate of 12,79,58,477 will decide the fate of a total of 961 candidates who are in fray from 71 constitutencies. Elections will be held at around 1,40,849 polling booths. The interesting battles in Monday’s polling will be seen in Begusarai (Bihar) where former JNU student leader and CPI candidate Kanhaiya Kumar is in the fray. In Uttar Pradesh's Kannauj, Dimple Yadav, wife of SP president Akhilesh Yadav, will test her electoral fortunes while in Chindwara in Madhya Pradesh and Mumbai North MP Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s son Nakul (Cong) and film-actor Urmila Matondkar are testing their fortunes. Another interesting contest will be in Maval where NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s grandnephew Parth Pawar is contesting. In Anatnag, which was scheduled for elections in three phases due to security reasons, second phase voting commenced on Monday morning. The four assembly segments going for poll on Monda poll are Noorabad, Kulgam, Hom ShaliBugh and Devsar. The voting will end 1800 hrs amid unprecedented security cover. However, the Election Officials are worried about the low-turnout of voters as previous phase witnessed just 14 per cent voting. In Rajasthan, voting commenced on 13 seats--Tonk-Sawaimadhopur, Ajmer, Pali, Jodhpur, Barmer, Jalore, Udaipur, Banswara, Chittorgarh, Rajsamand, Bhilwara, Kota and Jhalawar-Baran. A total of 172 candidates are in fray in these constituencies. Here the main contest is between Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s son Vaibhav Gehlot is contesting against BJP’s strongman and Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. In Uttar Pradesh, polling began in 13 constituencies--Shahjah anpur, Kheri, Hardoi, Mishrik, Unnao, Farrukhabad, Etawah,Kannauj,Kanpur, Akbarpur, Jalaun, Jhansi and Hamirpur . Except for Kannauj, rest of the 12 seats are currently held by the BJP . Bypoll to Nighasan Assembly seat in Kheri is also be held in this phase due to death of a sitting BJP member. Today's polling will decide the fate of SP candidate Dimple Yadav, wife of SP president Akhilesh Yadav from Kannauj, former Union ministers and Congress candidate Salman Khurshid from Farrukhabad and Sriprakash Jaiswal from Kanpur and senior Congress leader Anu Tandon who is pitted against BJP's Sakshi Maharaj from Unnao. There is direct contest between SP-BSP-RLD alliance with the BJP. However, the Congress contesting alone could turn the tables. Polling is also being held in all seats in the commercial capital of India—Mumbai—spread across Mumbai-North, Mumbai-North West, Mumbai-North Central, Mumbai-North East, Mumbai-South and Mumbai-South Central . The other constituencies of Maharashtra where polling commenced are Nandurbar, Dhule, Dindori, Nashik (North Maharashtra), Palghar, Bhiwandi, Kalyan, Thane, Maval and Shirur in Pune district, and Shirdi in Ahmednagar district. The prominent candidates are Hindi cinema actress Urmila Matondkar (Mumbai North) and Union minister Subhash Bhamre (Dhule). The other prominent candidates include Congress’ Priya Dutt from Mumbai-North Central seat and NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s grandnephew Parth Pawar, who is entering the electoral politics from Maval seat. The six seats of Madhya Pradesh where polling began are Sidhi, Shahdol, Jabalpur, Balaghat, Mandla and Chhindwara. In Chhindwara, MP Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s son Nakul (Cong) is making his entry into the political arena by challenging the saffron side’s Mr Nathan Shah. Voting in the Chhindwara Assembly by-poll is also being held . The Chhindwara Vidhan Sabha by-election is indeed a high-profile one as Mr K Nath (Cong) is trying his fortune against Mr Vivek Sahu (BJP). In Sidhi, the Assembly’s erstwhile leader of the opposition Ajay Singh (Cong) – son of former Human Resource Development minister and ex-chief minister Arjun Singh – is pitted against saffron camp MP Riti Pathak; in Shahdol, Mrs Pramila Singh (Cong) is in contest with Mrs Himadri Singh (BJP); Jabalpur’s principal contenders are advocate Vivek K Tankha (Cong) – a Rajya Sabha member – versus BJP state President Rakesh Singh; in Balaghat, Mr Madhu Bhagat (Cong) is up against Mr Dhal Singh Bisen (BJP); in Mandla, Mr Kamal Maravi (Cong) is fighting five-time MP Faggan Singh Kulaste (BJP). In Bihar, polling began in five Lok Sabha seats--Darbhanga, Ujiarpur, Samastipur, Begusarai and Munger. Begusarai will witness a strong triangular contest between former JNU student leader and CPI candidate Kanhaiya Kumar, BJP’s fireband leader and Union Minister Giriraj Singh, and RJD veteran Tanveer Hasan. Prominent candidates whose fate would be decided in this phase are BJP firebrand leader and union minister Giriraj Singh and former Jawahar Lal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) president and CPI candidate Kanhaiya Kumar from Begusarai, Bihar Water Resources Minister and JD (U) candidate from Munger Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, state BJP president Nityanand Rai from Ujiarpur, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party chief and former union minister Upendra Kushwaha from Ujiarpur, senior RJD leader Abdul Bari Sidiqqui from Darbhanga and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan's younger brother Ramchandra Paswan from Samastipur. Polling also commenced on Monday in three Lok Sabha seats of Jharkhand--Chatra, Lohardaga (ST) and Palamu (SC). The main battle in Chatra is between Sunil Singh of the BJP, Manoj Yadav of the Congress and Subhash Yadav of the RJD while in Lohardaga Sudarshan Bhagat of the BJP will take on Sukhdeo Bhagat of the Congress. On the other hand, in Palamu the main battle is between VD Ram of the BJP and Ghuran Ram of the RJD. A total of 59 candidates are in the race for these three seats. In Odisha, the polling commenced for six Lok Sabha seats and 41 assembly seats. The LS constituencies are Mayurbhanj, Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur. This will be the final phase of polling in Odisha, except for Patkura assembly seat where voting is slated to be held on May 19 following the death of the BJD candidate. Prominent candidates in fray are BJP national vice-president Baijayant Panda from Kendrapara LS seat and state Congress president Niranjan Patnaik from Bahndaripokhari. In West Begal, polling began in Eight Lok Sabha seats-- Baharampur, Krishnanagar, Ranaghat, Bardhaman Purba, Bardhaman–Durgapur, Asansol, Bolpur and Birbhum . However, the violence in last three phases in Bengal has become a matter of concern. In third phase, one person was killed while several injured in poll related violence. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), Indian National Congress (INC) and the Left Front fielded their candidates in all the eight constituencies. Prominent candidates contesting the fourth phase Lok Sabha elections are former West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president and former union minister Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury from Baharampur, Surinderjeet Singh Ahluwalia from Bardhaman –Durgapur, Singer-cum-Union Minister Babul Supriyo from Asansol, former CPI(M) MP Dr Ram Chandra Dome from Bolpur and veteran actress-cum-sitting TMC MP Satabdi Roy.

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