Polling begins in 4th round of LS polls

New Delhi, May 7

Polling began this morning in 85 constituencies in the penultimate round of the five-phase Lok Sabha elections which will determine the electoral fortunes of opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee of the Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad and Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, among others.
These 85 constituencies in seven states and the National Capital Territory of Delhi have a total electorate of 94,645,317 voters.
They include all seven constituencies in Delhi, all 25 in Rajasthan, all ten in Haryana, three in Bihar, one in Jammu and Kashmir, four in Punjab, 18 in Uttar Pradesh and 17 in West Bengal.
Polling began at 0700 hours in all constituencies and will end at 1700 hours. Short queues were seen at polling booths in different places early this morning as voters sought to exercise their franchise before the day became too hot. Many of those who turned up early were first-time voters, eager to exercise their democratic right. The voting, which began on a moderate note, was expected to pick up as the day progressed.
Among the prominent candidates, Mr Rajnath Singh is contesting from Ghaziabad, Mr Yadav from Mainpuri and former BJP leader Kalyan Singh as an independent with the support of the SP from Etah, all in Uttar Pradesh. All three are former chief ministers of the state.
Mr Mukherjee is the Congress candidate from Jangipur in West Bengal while Mr Prasad, who is the Railway Minister, is fighting from Pataliputra in Bihar. He is also a candidate from Saran in the state, which had gone to the polls in an earlier round.
Union Ministers Kapil Sibal and Ajay Maken are candidates from the Chandni Chowk and the New Delhi constituencies in Delhi. Two Bollywood actors---Shatrughna Sinha of the BJP and Shekhar Suman of the Congress---are facing each other for Bihar's Patna Saheb seat. Also featuring in today's contests are former Union Minister Ajit Singh of the Rashtriya Lok Dal, former Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal of the Haryana Janhit Congress and former J & K chief minister Farooq Abdullah.
In all, 1315 candidates are in the fray in this round---1196 men and 119 women---making for an average of more than 15 candidates in each constituency.
There are 22 constituencies which have more than 16 candidates. New Delhi with 41 candidates and Chandni Chowk with 40 are the constituencies which have the highest number of candidates. Gautam Buddh Nagar and Bulandshahr in UP have the highest number of women candidates at six each.
Among the national parties, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party has put up 82 candidates in this round, followed by the Congress and the BJP with 70 each, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) 21, the Communist Party of India 8, the RJD 2 and the Nationalist Congress Party with 6.
State parties account for 124 candidates and registered (unrecognised) parties for 323. There are as many as 609 independents in the fray for this round.
In all, 1,29,103 polling stations have been set up for this round and 1,71,902 electronic voting machines (EVMs) are being used. About 6.5 lakh polling personnel have been deployed to manage this phase of polling.
At the end of today's round, polling will be complete in 457 of the 543 constituencies going to the polls, with the three earlier rounds of voting on April 16, 23 and 30 covering 372 seats.
Voting will be conducted for 86 seats in the last phase on May 13.
Counting of votes will be taken up on May 16 and all the results are expected by that evening.
The Lok Sabha has 545 seats, including two members of the Anglo-Indian community who are nominated by the President.
Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh are the two states where polling is being held this time in five phases.
Bihar will have four phases of polling, while it will be in three phases in Maharashtra and West Bengal and in two phases in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Orissa and Punjab.
The remaining 15 states and the 7 UTs will have single-phase polling.
The tenure of the present Lok Sabha, the 14th, will expire in the normal course on June 1 and a new House is required to be constituted before June 2, as per the constitutional provisions.
The total electorate in the country, after the latest round of revision of electoral rolls, is about 714 million, an increase of 43 million over the figure for the last Lok Sabha elections in April-May, 2004.
This is the first time that the entire country, except Assam, Nagaland and Jammu and Kashmir, is using Photo Electoral Rolls (covering 522 of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies and 82 per cent of the voters).
There will be 828,804 polling stations in the country as compared to 687,402 in the 2004 elections.
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