Representative image
Representative image

Phase four: Voting on Monday for 96 Lok Sabha seats in 10 states/UT; 175 assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh

Voting will simultaneously be held in all 175 Assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh, which is witnessing a triangular contest involving ruling YSRC, the Congress-led INDIA bloc and the NDA, comprising the BJP, Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP and Pawan Kalyan-led Jana Sena Party (JSP).

Amravati/Lucknow | The electoral fate of several prominent candidates like Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Union minister Giriraj Singh, TMC's firebrand leader Mohua Moitra and AIMIM's Asaduddin Owaisi will be decided on Monday when polling will be held in 96 Lok Sabha constituencies across 10 states and Union Territories in the fourth phase of the general elections.

Voting will simultaneously be held in all 175 Assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh, which is witnessing a triangular contest involving ruling YSRC, the Congress-led INDIA bloc and the NDA, comprising the BJP, Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP and Pawan Kalyan-led Jana Sena Party (JSP).

As many as 28 legislative assembly seats of Odisha are also going to polls in this phase.

A total of 1,717 candidates are in the fray in the Lok Sabha seats and more than 19 lakh polling officials have been deployed at 1.92 lakh polling stations for the over 17.70 crore eligible voters, including 8.73 women, in this round of the seven-phase polls.

Among the keenly watched contests are those involving former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav (Kannauj, UP) and Union ministers Giriraj Singh (Begusarai, Bihar), Nityanand Rai (Ujiarpur, Bihar) and Raosaheb Danve (Jalna, Maharashtra).

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and former cricketer Yusuf Pathan of TMC (both from Baharampur, WB), BJP's Pankaja Munde (Beed, Maharashtra), AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi (Hyderabad, Telangana) and Andhra Pradesh Congress president YS Sharmila (Kadapa) are among the prominent candidates.

Union minister Ajay Kumar Mishra Teni, whose son is an accused in the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, is eyeing a hat-trick from Kheri (UP), while TMC's Mahua Moitra, who was expelled from Lok Sabha in the wake of cash-for-query allegations, is seeking re-election from Krishnanagar in West Bengal.

Film star-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha is seeking re-election from Asansol where he is pitted against BJP's veteran leader S S Ahluwalia. BJP's former West Bengal president Dilip Ghosh and Trinamool Congress' Kirti Azad are contesting from Bardhaman-Durgapur.

So far, till phase three of the Lok Sabha elections, polling has concluded in 283 seats out of 543.

Polling will be held on Monday in all 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana, all 25 seats in Andhra Pradesh, 13 in Uttar Pradesh, five in Bihar, four in Jharkhand, eight in Madhya Pradesh, 11 in Maharashtra, four in Odisha, eight in West Bengal and one in Jammu and Kashmir.

Nearly 17.48 lakh electorate are eligible to vote in the election to the prestigious Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency and 24 candidates are in the fray. It is the first major election in Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019.

The National Conference has fielded influential Shia leader Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi while youth leader Waheed Para is contesting on the People's Democratic Party ticket. The Apni Party has fielded Ashraf Mir, while the BJP is not contesting.

The BJP-led NDA has MPs from over 40 of these 96 seats that will go to polls on Monday.

The voter turnout in the first three phases of the Lok Sabha elections was 66.14 per cent, 66.71 per cent and 65.68 per cent, respectively.

The EC believes that the heatwave conditions are one of the reasons for lower voter turnout in the last three phases as compared to the 2019 parliamentary polls.

Citing an India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast, the poll authority on Sunday said that "there is no significant concern regarding hot weather conditions for the polling in Phase 4."

The weather forecast indicates that the parliamentary constituencies going to polls are likely to experience normal to below normal temperatures and there will be no heatwave-like conditions in these areas on polling day.

Keeping in mind the hot weather conditions and people's reluctance to step out in the afternoon, the Election Commission has increased poll timing in some Telangana seats.

While the usual hours of voting are from 7 am to 6 pm, they are curtailed keeping in mind the terrain, time of sunset and security situation.

Issues like reservations, appeasement politics, corruption and jobs dominated the battle of narratives in the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

Among the 13 poll-bound constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, a close contest is on between SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and sitting BJP MP Subrat Pathak in Kannauj, while in Unnao, incumbent BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj is up against SP's Annu Tandon.

In West Bengal, the EC has identified 3,647 polling stations as "critical" across the eight constituencies.

A total of 152 companies (around 100 personnel each) of central forces would be deployed in Bardhaman Purba district, followed by Birbhum (131), Asansol Durgapur Police Commissionerate (88), Krishnanagar Police District (81), Murshidabad Police District (73) and Ranaghat Police District (54), an official said.

The voter turnout in the redrawn Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency, following the delimitation exercise in Jammu and Kashmir in 2022, will be keenly watched as most of the areas under the seat had previously witnessed low polling percentages due to boycott calls given by the separatists.

To encourage people to exercise their franchise, district election officers in the constituency organised various outreach programmes, used audio, visual and print medium and also held street plays and sports events.

Officials said all arrangements have been put in place for Monday's polling.

"A total of 17,47,810 voters have been enrolled in phase IV, including 8,75,938 men, 8,71,808 women and 64 third-gender voters. There are around 11,682 persons with disability and 705 voters above the age of 100 years," they said.

As many as 2,135 polling stations have been set up across Srinagar, Ganderbal, Pulwama and parts of Budgam and Shopian districts where polling will be held. Twenty-six special polling stations have been set up for migrant voters of Kashmir Division with 21 in Jammu, four in Delhi and one in Udhampur District.

In Andhra Pradesh, the ruling YSRCP is contesting in all 175 Assembly seats and 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.

As part of a seat-sharing deal among NDA partners, the TDP was allocated 144 Assembly and 17 Lok Sabha constituencies while the BJP will contest from six Lok Sabha and 10 Assembly seats.

The Janasena will contest two Lok Sabha and 21 Assembly seats.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the YSRCP had won 22 seats while TDP was reduced to just 3.

YSRCP president and Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy (Pulivendla), TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu (Kuppam) and Janasena chief and actor Pawan Kalyan (Pithapuram), among others, are in the Assembly poll race.

With the polling on eight seats in Madhya Pradesh, elections to all 29 seats in the state will be completed.

The eight constituencies spread over 64 assembly segments in 15 districts in the state’s Malwa-Nimar region are considered the bastion of the BJP.

In Indore, after Congress candidate Akshay Bam withdrew his nomination at the last minute and joined the saffron party setting the stage for a one-sided contest for BJP’s Shankar Lalwani, who won by nearly 5.4 lakh votes in 2019, the Congress urged voters to hit NOTA (None Of The Above) option.

Polling for the next three phases in the country is on May 20, May 25 and June 1. The counting of votes is on June 4.

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