Final phase of Lok Sabha polls in 57 seats on Saturday, PM Modi in fray

05:17 PM May 31, 2024 | PTI |

Varanasi/Chandigarh: Fifty-seven seats across seven states and the Union territory of Chandigarh will go to polls in the seventh and final phase of Lok Sabha elections on Saturday that include Varanasi, from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a third consecutive term.


Polling is scheduled in all 13 seats of Punjab and four of Himachal Pradesh, 13 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, nine in West Bengal, eight in Bihar, six in Odisha and three seats in Jharkhand besides Chandigarh. Polling for the remaining 42 assembly constituencies of Odisha and bypolls to six assembly seats in Himachal Pradesh will also take place simultaneously.

Other prominent candidates among the total 904 contestants in fray are Union minister Anurag Thakur, Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti and actor Kangana Ranaut.

Over 10.06 crore citizens, including nearly 5.24 crore men, 4.82 crore women and 3,574 third gender electors are eligible to vote in this phase.

Saturday’s voting will mark the end to the marathon polling process that began on April 19 month and has already covered 486 Lok Sabha seats in 28 states and Union territories. The assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim also went to polls. Counting of votes will be taken up on June 4. According to Election Commission guidelines, television channels and news outlets will be able to run exit poll data and its results on June 1 after 6.30 pm.


The EC said polling parties have been dispatched along with machines and poll materials to their respective polling stations. At the 1.09 lakh polling stations, basic facilities including ample shade, drinking water, ramps, and toilets are being provided to ensure that polling takes place in a comfortable and secure environment, it said. The poll panel has also directed CEOs and state machineries to take adequate measures to manage the adverse impact of hot weather or rainfall wherever predicted. The commission called upon voters to turn out in greater numbers and vote with responsibility and pride. The turnout in the first six phases was 66.14 per cent, 66.71, 65.68, 69.16, 62.2 and 63.36 per cent respectively.

The campaigning for the last phase which ended Thursday evening saw BJP leaders led by Modi accusing the Congress and the INDIA alliance of being corrupt, anti-Hindu and engaging in loot, appeasement and dynastic politics.

The Opposition parties have been claiming that the BJP is anti-farmer, anti-youth and will change and scrap the Constitution if they win the elections.

On Thursday evening, Modi headed to Kanyakumari where he is meditating till June 1 at the site associated with Swami Vivekananda. Modi had 206 public outreach programmes, including rallies and roadshows, since the Election Commission announced the Lok Sabha election schedule on March 16.

The parliamentary seats where polling will take place in Uttar Pradesh are Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria, Bansgaon (SC), Ghosi, Salempur, Ballia, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur and Robertsganj (SC), spread across 11 districts.

Uttar Pradesh is a seeing a direct contest between the BJP-led NDA and the coalition of INDIA bloc members Samajwadi Party and Congress. From Chandauli, Maharajganj and Mirzapur, Union ministers Mahendra Nath Pandey, Pankaj Chaudhary and Anupriya Patel respectively are contesting. Late Mukhtar Ansari’s brother Afzal Ansari is in the fray from Ghazipur and former prime minister Chandrashekhar’s son Neeraj Shekhar is contesting from Ballia. In Varanasi, those contesting against Modi are Ajay Rai (Congress), Ather Jamal Lari (BSP), Kolisetty Shiva Kumar (Yuga Thulasi Party), Gagan Prakash Yadav, (Apna Dal, Kameravadi), and independents Dinesh Kumar Yadav and Sanjay Kumar Tiwari.

The polls in South Bengal, a traditional TMC stronghold, will test the party’s dominance amid an ‘old versus new’ power struggle, with the national spotlight on Sandeshkhali in Basirhat due to allegations of atrocities on women and land grabs.

The seventh phase will cover Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jayanagar, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Kolkata Dakshin, and Kolkata Uttar, where the TMC secured victories in the 2019 elections.

TMC heavyweight Abhishek Banerjee, considered the party’s de facto number two, is contesting from Diamond Harbour. Banerjee’s performance in this seat, which the TMC touts as a ‘model constituency’, will be closely watched as the opposition attempts to paint it as a ‘laboratory of violence’. The two-time MP faces CPI (M)’s Pratikur Rahaman and BJP’s Abhijit Das in a three-way contest.

The minority-dominated Basirhat Lok Sabha seat, and specifically the Sandeshkhali segment, is a microcosm of the broader electoral battle as it garnered national attention due to allegations of atrocities on women and land grabs by local TMC leaders.

The BJP has capitalised on these issues by nominating Rekha Patra, a prominent local protestor, against TMC veteran Haji Nurul Islam. The CPI (M) has fielded former MLA Nirapada Sardar, making this a three-cornered contest.

In Punjab, prominent candidates in the fray are four-time MP Preneet Kaur, former chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi, three-time MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Ravneet Singh Bittu.

The BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal are contesting the polls on their own for the first time since 1996 while two INDIA bloc parties – the Congress and AAP – have fielded their own candidates.

The prestige of Ranaut and Himachal Pradesh minister Vikramaditya Singh Singh, the heir of the erstwhile Rampur royal family and son of six-time former chief minister Virbhadra Singh, is at stake in Mandi.

Stakes are also high for Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Thakur, who is seeking a fifth term from Hamirpur, and former Union minister Anand Sharma, who is the Congress candidate from the Kangra Lok Sabha constituency, while for Sukhu, the six assembly bypolls are for survival and stability of his 17-month-old government.

In Bihar, Union minister RK Singh is aiming at a hat-trick from Arrah, where his principal challenger is Sudama Prasad, a sitting MLA of the CPI(ML) Liberation.

In Patna Sahib, veteran BJP MP Ravi Shankar Prasad is aiming at a second consecutive Lok Sabha term. His principal challenger is Congress spokesman Anshul Avijit, son of former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and grandson of Jagjivan Ram.

In Pataliputra, Misa Bharti is trying her luck for the third time. BJP MP Ram Kripal Yadav is aiming at a hat-trick.

Karakat is witnessing a multi-cornered fight which is being most talked about because of Bhojpuri superstar Pawan Singh, who is contesting as an Independent. Singh entered the fray after having earlier turned down a BJP ticket from Asansol in West Bengal. The move has led to his expulsion from the party.

Upendra Kushwaha, a former Union minister who heads the Rashtriya Lok Morcha, had won the seat in 2014 but lost it five years later upon quitting NDA. He is hopeful of wresting the seat back following return to the BJP-led coalition. The CPI(ML), which has a strong presence in the area, has fielded Raja Ram Kushwaha, a former MLA and farmer leader. The pitch has been queered further with the AIMIM fielding Priyanka Chaudhary, a Zila Parishad member.


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