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Lok Sabha Election 2019: PM Modi in fray as 918 candidates battle in final phase

Candidates are set to fight it out in 59 constituencies in the Last Phase of Lok Sabha Polls

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The seven-phase Lok Sabha elections, one of the most bitterly fought in recent memory, will come to a close on Sunday when polling will be held in 59 constituencies including  Varanasi where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking to retain the seat.

Polling will be held in all 13 seats in Punjab and an equal number of seats in Uttar Pradesh, nine in West Bengal, eight seats each in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, four in Himachal Pradesh, three in Jharkhand and the lone seat Chandigarh.

Over 10.01 crore voters are expected to decide the fate of 918 candidates. The Election Commission has set up more than 1.12 lakh polling stations for smooth conduct of polls.

On Sunday, a bypoll will be held in Panaji due to the death of former chief minister Manohar Parrikar in March. Bye-elections will also be held in four assembly constituencies of Tamil Nadu -- Sulur, Aravakurichi, Ottapidaram (SC) and Thiruparankundram.

Uttar Pradesh

 

Voting will be held on Sunday for 13 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, which will see Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking re-election from Varanasi.

Polling will be held in Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria, Bansgaon (SC), Ghosi, Salempur, Ballia, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur and Robertsganj (SC).

 

Union minister Manoj Sinha, Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey are seeking re-election from Ghazipur and Chandauli, respectively.

The BJP is contesting 11 Lok Sabha seats in this phase, while its ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) is contesting Mirzapur, currently held by Union minister Anupriya Patel, and Robertsganj.

The saffron party has pitted Bhojpuri actor Ravi Kishan from Gorakhpur against Congress's Madhusudan Tripathi and Rambhual Nishad of the Smajwadi Party.

Gorakhpur MP Pravin Nishad, who had won the seat on a SP ticket in bypolls last year, has joined the BJP. The party has fielded him from Sant Kabir Nagar seat.

Gorakhpur was represented by Yogi Adityanath in the Lok Sabha from 1998 to 2017, before he became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

The electioneering saw Priyanka holding two back-to-back roadshows in Kushinagar and Mirzapur during the day and Union minister Smriti Irani riding a scooty in Gorkahpur.

The final phase of the Lok Sabha polls in the state will also decide the fate of eight SP and five BSP candidates.

In all, there are 167 candidates in the fray for the 13 seats.

The highest number of 26 candidates in the fray are from Varanasi, while Bansgaon has the least number of four candidates fighting the polls.

Over 2.32 crore voters are expected to exercise their franchise in this phase in UP. As many as 25,874 polling booths have been set up in 13,979 polling centres in the final phase, the Election Commission said.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha poll, the BJP had won 71 out of 80 seats in the state, securing 42.63 per cent of the votes. BJP ally Apna Dal bagged two.

The Samajwadi Party had won five seats with a vote share of 22.35 per cent. The BSP did not win any seat while securing 19.77 per cent votes. The Congress registered wins on two UP seats, bagging 7.53 per cent of the votes.

 

Himachal Pradesh

 

 

Five MLAs, including a state minister, are among the 45 candidates trying to make it to Parliament from Himachal Pradesh where polling will be held Sunday, the last phase of voting in the 2019 elections.

 

Among the 45 candidates is Congress nominee from Mandi, Aashray Sharma, whose father had to sacrifice his berth in the state's BJP government.

There are 53,30,154 registered voters for the four constituencies -- Shimla (SC), Mandi, Hamirpur and Kangra -- in the state.

A direct contest is expected between the Congress and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which had won all four seats in 2014.

The BJP has fielded the state's Food and Civil Supplies Minister Kishan Kapoor in Kangra after dropping sitting MP Shanta Kumar.

Kangra's Congress MLA Pawan Kajal is contesting against him.

In Hamirpur, three-time MP and former BCCI president Anurag Thakur is in the fray on a BJP ticket. He faces Sri Naina Devi's Congress MLA Ram Lal Thakur.

BJP's Pachhad MLA Suresh Kashyap is contesting against Solan Congress MLA Dhani Ram Shandil for the Shimla (SC) parliamentary seat.

Aashray Sharma, who is the grandson of former Union Telecom minister Sukh Ram, is contesting against BJP MP Ram Swaroop Sharma in Mandi.

His father Anil Sharma had to resign from the state cabinet after he decided to contest on the Congress ticket.

Anil Sharma's resignation followed an awkward phase during which the minister refused to campaign for his own party's candidate in Mandi, insisting that he would not takes sides.

The state is almost certain to see some assembly by-polls in the coming months to fill vacant seats, as both the Congress and the BJP have fielded MLAs.

Although the state sends just four MPs to the Lok Sabha, political parties spared no efforts during the last days of the campaign.

Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressed rallies in the state.

Superintendent of Police (law and order) Khushhal Sharma said elaborate security arrangements have been made for the smooth conduct of the polls in the state.

Forty-seven companies of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have been deployed along with the state police and home guard personnel to ensure free and fair elections, he told PTI on Saturday.

State's Assistant Chief Electoral Officer Harbans Lal Dhiman said 7,723 polling stations have been set up in the state and out of which 373 have been declared as critical and 939 as vulnerable.

Voting in the state will begin at 7 am and will go on till 6 pm.

Jharkhand

The electoral fortunes of 42 candidates including that of former Chief Minister and Union Minister Shibu Soren will be decided on Sunday in the final phase of the general elections in Jharkhand.

 

Elections will be held in three seats - Dumka, Rajmahal and Godda on Sunday.

Soren, the chief of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and a 8th term sitting MP is in the fray from Dumka seat once again. He is crossing swords with BJP's Sunil Soren. The JMM leader had defeated his BJP challenger twice in 2009 and 2014.

Altogether 45,64,681 electors, including 22,00,119 female and 21 third gender voters are eligible to exercise their franchise, an Election Commission release said.

While 15 candidates are in the fray in Dumka, 14 are trying their luck from Rajmahal and 13 in Godda.

The JMM, the Congress and the JVM of former chief minister Babulal Marandi have formed 'Mahagathbandhan' (grand alliance), putting up candidates against the BJP nominees in the 14 seats of the state.

JMM's sitting MP, Vijay Kumar Hansda, is facing a tough challenge from BJP's Hemlal Murmu from Rajmahal seat.

Hansda had defeated Murmu in 2014.

Murmu, who was a four-time MLA and had won the Rajmahal Lok Sabha seat in 2004 as JMM candidate, joined the BJP in 2014.

Sitting BJP MP Nishikant Dubey is also facing fight from JVM MLA Pradip Yadav from Godda seat.

Chief Minister Raghubar Das and Ajsu party president Sudesh Mahto camped in the Santhal Pargana region for several days, campaigning for the BJP candidates.

This is the first time that Ajsu party has an alliance with the BJP in any Lok Sabha elections with the party getting the lone Giridih seat as per the seat sharing arrangement.

Chief Electorate Officer L Khiangte said that 6,258 control units, as many ballot units and 6,258 VVPATs have been set up in the three constituencies, besides keeping 1,260 control units, as many ballot units and 1,884 VVPATs in reserve.

There are 6,258 polling stations with 27,536 polling personnel manning them.

A total 589 polling stations will have webcasting facility while 137 polling stations will be manned by only women polling personal.

Inspector General of Police (Operation) Ashish Batra said that 37,398 security personnel have been deployed across the three constituencies as part of security arrangements.

An Air ambulance will be available for emergency services, he said, adding locations of sensitive booths will be under helicopter surveillance.

Polling personnel of seven polling stations will be dropped by helicopter, he said.

 

BIHAR

 As many as four Union ministers are among the 157 candidates in Bihar whose electoral fortunes will be decided on Sunday in the final phase of general elections.

 

About 1.52 crore voters will exercise their franchise in the eight Lok Sabha constituencies - Patna Sahib, Pataliputra, Arrah, Buxar, Karakat, Sasaram, Nalanda and Jehanabad - at 15,811 booths, according to figures made available by the Election Commission.

Seven of these seats were won by the NDA last time, five by the BJP and two by the RLSP, which is now with the "Mahagathbandhan".

One was bagged by the JD(U) headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, which then fought separately but is now back with the NDA.

By-poll will also be held for the Dehri Assembly seat, which fell vacant last year upon the disqualification of RJD MLA and former state minister Mohd Ilyas Husain, who was convicted in the bitumen scam by a Ranchi court.

The most keenly-watched contest is in Patna Sahib where Ravi Shankar Prasad, one of the most prominent members of the Narendra Modi cabinet, is seeking entry into the Lok Sabha. The BJP has won the seat in both the elections that have taken place since it came into being after the 2008 delimitation.

However, Prasad faces the challenge of retaining the seat for his party by defeating Shatrughan Sinha - the actor- turned-politician, who won it on both occasions and is now in the fray as the Congress candidate.

The neighbouring Pataliputra has become a prestige issue for the family of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, which has contested the seat twice, losing on both occasions to his former loyalists.

While Prasad himself lost to JD(U)'s Ranjan Yadav, his daughter Misa Bharti was defeated by Ram Kripal Yadav, who fought on a BJP ticket and became a Union minister. Bharti is once again in the fray against Yadav.

Arrah is witnessing a battle of ideological extremes as Union minister RK Singh, an IAS officer, who retired as the Union Home secretary before joining the BJP and making electoral debut five years ago, seeks to retain the seat overcoming the challenge posed by Raju Yadav of the CPI(ML).

Yadav's prospects have been boosted with the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan supporting his candidature and the ultra-Left party has reciprocated the gesture by supporting Misa Bharti in Pataliputra.

In Buxar, Union minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey's bid to retain the seat for the second consecutive term has been challenged by veteran RJD leader Jagadanand Singh, who has represented the Lok Sabha constituency formerly and, unlike the incumbent, who hails from Bhagalpur, is seen as a "local".

Karakat is where RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha made a successful Lok Sabha debut five years ago as an NDA ally and went on to become a Union minister only to part ways in December last year when he joined the Mahagathbandhan.

His bid to retain the seat faces a stiff challenge from JD(U)'s Mahabali Singh, who finished third last time but was the winner in 2009 when his party was with the NDA.

Former Lok Sabha Speaker and veteran Congress leader Meira Kumar is in the fray from Sasaram, which she had represented two times on the trot before losing to BJP's Chhedi Paswan in 2014.

Paswan, who had formerly been the MP from the seat in 1989 and 1991 on Janata Dal ticket, has once again been fielded by his party. Kumar's father, former Deputy Prime Minister Jagjivan Ram, had represented the reserved seat several times, mostly on Congress ticket and twice as Janata Party's candidate.

In Nalanda, second term JD(U) MP Kaushalendra Kumar - a confidant of the Chief Minister, who retained the seat for the party in 2014 surmounting the Modi wave - is once again in the fray.

His bid has been challenged by Ashok Kumar Azad Chandravanshi, who has been fielded by Hindustani Awam Morcha of Jitan Ram Manjhi - a former Chief Minister, who floated his own outfit after quitting the JD(U), started off as an NDA partner but ended up with the Mahagathbandhan.

Jehanabad was won by RLSP's Arun Kumar, but he was expelled by the party and went on float his own outfit which neither the NDA nor the Mahagathbandhan agreed to back. His bid to retain the seat is meeting with a two-pronged challenge from RJD's Surendra Yadav - an MLA from the adjoining district of Gaya, who has been notorious for strong-arm style of politics - and JD(U)'s Chandreshwar Prasad Yaduvanshi.

Another notable candidate in Jehanabad is Angesh Kumar - a rebel candidate initially backed by Lalu Prasad's disgruntled elder son Tej Pratap Yadav, who later pulled back in the larger interest of his father's party.

West Bengal

Preparations are in place for the seventh and final phase of the general elections in West Bengal, where nine Lok Sabha constituencies will go to polls on Sunday.

 

An electorate of 1,49,63,064 will decide the fate of 111 candidates in these nine seats -- Kolkata North and Kolkata South, Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jadavpur, Diamond Harbour, Jaynagar (SC) and Mathurapur (SC).

Eight seats, barring Jadavpur, will witness a four- cornered contest between the Trinamool Congress, the BJP, the Congress and the Left Front.

The Congress has given the Jadavpur seat a miss.

Sitting MP Abhishek Banerjee, who is the nephew of TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee and considered the number two in the party, is seeking re-election from the Diamond Harbour seat, where he is pitted against BJP's Nilanjan Roy.

The CPI(M) has nominated Fuad Halim and the Congress Soumya Aich Roy for the seat.

In the Jadavpur seat, TMC's celebrity candidate Mimi Chakraborty will contest against Anupam Hazra of the BJP.

The CPI(M) has fielded senior leader Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya.

Basirhat Lok Sabha seat will see another star TMC candidate Nusrat Jahan locking horns with BJP's Sayantan Basu.

The Congress has nominated Quazi Abdur Rahim and the Left Front constituent CPI, Pallab Sengupta.

In the Dum Dum seat, the BJP has fielded Samik Bhattacharya against sitting TMC MP Saugata Ray. Left Front major CPI(M) has nominated Nepaldeb Bhattacharya, while the Congress announced the name of Saurav Saha.

TMC MP Kakoli Ghoshdastidar is contesting against BJP's Mrinal Kanti Debnath in Barasat, where the Congress has nominated Subrata Dutta and Left Front Constituent All India Forward Bloc, Haripada Biswas.

In the Jaynagar (SC) seat, TMC's Pratima Mondal will contest against Ashok Kandary of the BJP. The Congress has fielded Tapan Mondal and Left Front constituent RSP, Subhas Naskar.

Choudhury Mohan Jatua is the TMC candidate from the Mathurapur (SC) constituency against BJP's Shyama Prasad Halder. The Congress has named Krittibas Sardar and the CPI(M) fielded Sarat Chandra Haldar for the seat.

Kolkata South will witness Mala Roy of the TMC battling it out against against BJP's Chandra Kumar Bose. The CPI(M) has nominated Nandini Mukherjee and the Congress Mita Chakraborty.

In Kolkata North, Sudip Bandyopadhyay will contest against Rahul Sinha, the BJP national secretary. The CPI(M) has fielded Kaninika Bose and the Congress, Syed Shahid Imam.

A total of 710 companies of central forces are being deployed by the Election Commission to cover 17,042 polling booths to ensure free and fair voting, officials said.

The nine constituencies are spread across the three districts of Kolkata, South and North 24 Parganas.

The high-voltage campaign for the final phase saw poll meetings by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Congress leader Sachin Pilot and West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee.

The prime minister held four poll meetings on the last two days of the campaign, while Banerjee took part in several road shows at different places in the metropolis in the run-up to this phase.

Shah's roadshow in the city on Tuesday was marred by violence and destruction of social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's bust in a college in north Kolkata.

In a first such action in India's electoral history, the Election Commission ordered campaigning in the nine West Bengal constituencies to end at 10 pm on Thursday, instead of 6 pm on Friday, in the wake of the violence between the BJP and the TMC during Shah's roadshow.

Besides general election observers and expenditure observers, the poll panel has for the first time deployed a special police observer and a special observer.

VVPAT will be also be used in all the polling booths along with the EVMs, EC officials said.

 

 

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