Campaigning ends for 7th phase

Electioneering on Tuesday drew to a close in 121 Lok Sabha seats spread across 12 states going to polls on Thursday in the seventh phase of elections, crossing the half-way mark of the nine-phase exercise.

Leaders of major political parties criss-crossed major states including Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar in their bid to woo voters, raising national as well as local issues.

Polling will take place in 28 seats in Karnataka, followed by Rajasthan (20), Maharashtra (19), Uttar Pradesh and Odisha (11 each), Madhya Pradesh (10), Bihar (7), Jharkhand (6), West Bengal (4), Chhattisgarh (3), Jammu and Kashmir and Manipur (1 each).

Altogether 1,769 candidates figure in the fifth phase.

Karnataka witnessed intense campaign by both national as well as state bigwigs for a sharply bipolar fight. Prominent candidates in the fray include Nandan Nilekani (Cong), former prime minister HD Deve Gowda (JD-S) and union minister Veerappa Moily (Cong).

For BJP, hoping for a turnaround in its fortunes after its debacle in assembly polls last year, the biggest thrust to its campaign came from Narendra Modi whose blitzkrieg generated the atmospherics it is looking for.

Modi addressed 13 rallies in the last four months, but BJP veterans LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj gave a miss to the campaign with no convincing explanation from the state unit which merely said they were preoccupied elsewhere.

Congress’ offensive was led mostly by chief minister Siddaramaiah, for whom a lot is at stake, as he addressed more than 75 rallies, with party President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi providing the booster.

Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal was on a single lap of campaign in Bangalore. AAP is aiming big contesting all the seats in Karnataka.

There are altogether 435 candidates in the fray in the state that will have a one-day polling in which 4.62 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise.

In Rajasthan, 3.8 crore voters will decide the fate of 239 candidates.

In Maharashtra, nearly 3.25 crore voters will elect 19 MPs from a field of 358 candidates including stalwarts like union minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, ex-chief minister Ashok Chavan and BJP leader Gopinath Munde.

The generation next of Maharashtra politics - Supriya Sule (Baramati) and Nilesh Rane (Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg) – are seeking a second term. Indian Youth Congress chief Rajiv Satav, who is currently a legislator, is seeking to enter Lok Sabha from Hingoli. 

Campaign for four seats in the first phase of five-phase Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal ended with the Darjeeling constituency grabbing the limelight as one of the most closely fought constituencies in the state.

Apart from Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and Alipurduars constituencies would go for elections on 17 April, marking the commencement of elections for 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state. A total of 60,14,258 voters will decide the fate of 47 candidates.

In Bihar, loudspeakers fell silent with campaigning coming to an end for the second phase of polling in which 11.85 crore electors are eligible to cast their ballots.

117 candidates, including 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 are in fray.

In 11 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, over 1.8 crore voters will decide the fate of 151 candidates, including stalwarts like former Union minister Maneka Gandhi, who is back to her traditional seat Pilibhit on BJP ticket.
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