Polling in 93 Lok Sabha seats on Tuesday; PM Modi, Shah to cast vote in Gandhinagar

Polling officials carrying election material leave for their respective polling booths, a day before the voting in the third phase of Lok Sabha elections, Monday, May 6, 2024.
Polling officials carrying election material leave for their respective polling booths, a day before the voting in the third phase of Lok Sabha elections, Monday, May 6, 2024.

Ahmedabad/Bengaluru | Voting will be held in 93 constituencies spread over 11 states and Union Territories on Tuesday in the third phase of Lok Sabha polls, with stakes being high for the BJP which had won an overwhelming majority of these seats, including all in Gujarat, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, in the last election.

Over 1,300 candidates, including around 120 women, are in the fray. Among the bigwigs are Union ministers Amit Shah (Gandhinagar), Jyotiraditya Scindia (Guna), Mansukh Mandaviya (Porbandar), Parshottam Rupala (Rajkot), Pralhad Joshi (Dharwad) and SP Singh Baghel (Agra).

As many as 17.24 crore people, including 8.39 crore females, will be eligible to vote and 1.85 lakh polling stations manned by 18.5 lakh officials have been set up.

With the BJP bagging Surat unopposed, 25 seats in Prime Minister Modi's home state of Gujarat will go to polls on May 7, besides 11 seats in Maharashtra, 10 seats in Uttar Pradesh, the remaining 14 of the 28 in Karnataka, seven in Chhattisgarh, five in Bihar, four each in Assam and West Bengal, and all two in Goa.

The Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu (2 seats) and nine seats in Madhya Pradesh, including Betul where elections were deferred, will also go to polls on Tuesday.

PM Modi and Shah will cast their vote at booths in Ahmedabad city under the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat in Gujarat.

Former Madhya Pradesh chief ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Vidisha) and Digvijaya Singh (Rajgarh) have also returned to the Lok Sabha electoral fray this time.

A riveting contest is on in Maharashtra's Baramati between Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule and Sunetra Pawar, wife of the veteran leader’s estranged nephew and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.

In Uttar Pradesh, the current phase is important for the Mulayam Singh Yadav family, with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav's wife Dimple Yadav aiming to retain the Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat.

Dimple Yadav had won the seat in bypolls following the demise of her father-in-law Mulayam Singh Yadav. Akshaya Yadav, son of Ram Gopal Yadav, the national principal general secretary of SP, will try to reclaim the Firozabad seat, which he had won in 2014.

Aditya Yadav, the son of SP national general secretary Shivpal Yadav, is making his electoral debut from the Budaun Lok Sabha seat, which was represented by his cousin Dharmendra Yadav in 2014.

The fate of former Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai (Haveri) and AIUDF Badruddin Ajmal (Dhubri) will also be decided on May 7.

Voting was completed in 189 seats out of 543 seats in the first two phases. The next four phases will be on May 13, May 20, May 25 and June 1. The counting of votes is on June 4.

In West Bengal, the four seats going to polls are Muslim-majority.

The division of minority votes among the Left-Congress combine and the TMC and the narrative on the Citizenship Amendment Act could shape the outcome in the intense electoral battle in Maldaha Uttar, Maldaha Dakshin, Jangipur and Murshidabad.

The Murshidabad and Jangipur Lok Sabha seats are held by the Trinamool Congress (TMC), which has renominated its sitting MPs Abu Taher and Bidi baron Khalilur Rehman respectively.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has again fielded Khagen Murmu for the Malda Uttar seat against TMC candidate Prasun Banerjee and former Congress MLA Mostaque Alam.

In the Malda Dakshin seat, the Congress has fielded Isha Khan Choudhury from the family of ABA Ghani Khan Choudhury.

"Polling parties have been dispatched along with EVMs and poll materials to their respective polling stations," the Election Commission said.

The third phase saw the BJP-led NDA and the INDIA bloc fiercely attacking each other on issues like reservations and sexual harassment charges against JD(S) leader Prajwal Revanna.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the BJP charge, asking the Congress to give in writing that it will not hand over the quota for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes to Muslims.

The Congress and its allies accused the BJP of trying to tamper with the Constitution and do away with reservations. The principal opposition party, which has promised to remove the 50 per cent cap on reservations, also asked the BJP to clear its stance on the issue.

The BJP leaders targeted the Congress over corruption, wealth redistribution and inheritance tax issues and accused it of pursuing appeasement politics, while the Congress reiterated its commitment to conduct a caste census and economic survey if voted to power.

In an appeal to the Congress workers a day before the third phase of the Lok Sabha polls, Rahul Gandhi said he is giving his all in this fight and wants them to do the same.

He asserted that this is not an ordinary election or a fight between political parties, but one to save democracy and the Constitution.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, BJP had swept all these 14 seats in Karnataka, defeating Congress and JD(S), which were in alliance and ruling the state then.

Congress leaders including Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have attacked the BJP over allegations of sexual abuse against Prajwal Revanna, Hassan MP and leader of the JD(S) - an ally of the BJP.

Hitting back, BJP leader Amit Shah and others questioned why the Congress government in Karnataka delayed the action against Revanna. The JD(S) joined the BJP-led NDA in September last year.

Prajwal Revanna is the grandson of former prime minister and JD(S) patriarch H D Deve Gowda and was the JD(S)-BJP alliance candidate from the Hassan seat which went to polls on April 26.

Prajwal's father H D Revanna was arrested by Special Investigation Team on Saturday in a kidnapping case linked to sexual abuse allegations against Prajwal, soon after a court here rejected his anticipatory bail plea.

In Gujarat, BJP's Mukesh Dalal has already won from Surat unopposed after the nomination of Congress' Nilesh Kumbhani was rejected over irregularities in the signature of proposers and other candidates withdrew. The party had bagged all 26 seats in 2019.

The BJP is also hoping for a clean sweep in Madhya Pradesh, which sends 29 members to Lok Sabha. In 2019, the BJP failed to win the Chhindwara constituency, the only saving grace for the Congress which managed to retain it on the charisma of party veteran Kamal Nath. His son Nakul Nath won the seat last time.

In Guna, where votes of the Yadav community can tilt the scales, Scindia is facing Yadvendra Singh Yadav of Congress.

"I am fully confident the BJP's flag will fly high in all the seats in Madhya Pradesh's Gwalior and Bhopal divisions (going to polls in 3rd phase)," Scindia told reporters in Gwalior after arriving from New Delhi.

In Chhattisgarh, the BJP had bagged nine seats and Congress two seats out of the total 11 in 2019.

In Assam, the BJP has put up only one candidate in this phase for the Guwahati seat, while its alliance partners AGP are contesting in two - Dhubri and Barpeta - and the UPPL in Kokrajhar.

The Congress is contesting all four seats.

The constituencies going to the polls in the third phase in Bihar are Araria, Jhanjharpur, Supaul, Madhepura and Khagaria, all currently held by the NDA.

In Assam, Sashastra Seema Bal troops have been deployed on boats to polling stations in South Salmara Mankachar PC for the third phase of elections. In Bihar, polling personnel navigated the river Kosi on boats to reach polling stations in Supaul, the EC said.

"A total of 4303 Flying Squads, 5534 Static Surveillance Teams, 1987 Video Surveillance Teams and 949 Video Viewing Teams are keeping surveillance round the clock to strictly and swiftly deal with any form of inducement of voters," the EC said.

It said 75 delegates from 23 countries will visit polling stations in six states, as part of the International Election Visitor Programme.

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