New Delhi: The stage is set for the second phase of Lok Sabha Elections 2019 as 95 seats across 11 states and one Union Territory brace up to go to polls on Thursday. Union ministers Jitendra Singh, Jual Oram, Sadananda Gowda and Pon Radhakrishnan, former prime minister HD Deve Gowda and DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran, A Raja and Kanimozhi, Congress leaders Veerappa Moily and Raj Babbar, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and BJP’s Hema Malini are among the 1,600-odd contestants in the fray. (Full coverage on Lok Sabha Polls)
Nearly 15.8 crore voters are eligible to vote in the second phase. In Assam, 104-year-old Saraguna Bibi Barbhuiya will cast her vote in Karimganj Parliamentary constituency. “She casts her vote every time and asks us to do the same. I’ll take her to polling booth tomorrow,” her son Badruddin Barbhuiya was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
In Jammu and Kashmir, polling parties left for their respective polling stations while over 80 companies for election duty in the twin constituencies of Srinagar and Udhampur that will vote in phase 2 of Lok Sabha polls. Speaking to the media on preparedness for the polls in Srinagar, IG CRPF Srinagar RS Sahi said, “We have made comprehensive security arrangements. Troops have been placed at various strategic locations. We’ve intensified area domination &also carrying out speculative operations.”
Thirty eight of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu will go to polls besides by-polls on 18 assembly constituencies. Polling in Vellore Lok Sabha seat, which is currently represented by the AIADMK, was cancelled Tuesday by the Election Commission following recovery of huge amount of cash allegedly from an associate of a DMK leader recently. The electoral battle in the state is largely among the two fronts led by the Dravidian majors and the AMMK led by TTV Dhinakaran, an AIADMK rival, though parties such as the fledgling Makkal Needhi Maiam of actor-politician Kamal Hassan are also testing their fortunes.
Polling will also be held in 14 seats in Karnataka, 10 in Maharashtra, eight in Uttar Pradesh, five each in Assam, Bihar and Odisha, three each in Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, two in Jammu and Kashmir and one seat each in Manipur and Puducherry.
In Odisha, Bargarh, Sundargarh, Bolangir, Kandhamal and Aska will go to polls on Thursday besides 35 assembly constituencies. Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik is contesting from his home turf Hinjili in Ganjam district and Bijepur in Bargarh. Among others, Union Tribal Affairs Minister Oram of the BJP, BJD’s Rajya Sabha MPs Prasanna Acharya and Achyut Samant, BJP nominee and three-time MP Kharabela Swain are in the fray in the Lok Sabha polls.
Maharashtra will witness a total of 179 candidates lock horns in 10 constituencies spread in parts of Vidarbha and Marathwada regions. Former chief ministers Ashok Chavan and Sushilkumar Shinde of Congress are contesting from Nanded and Solapur seats respectively.
Cinestars Hema Malini and Raj Babbar are among the 85 candidates from Uttar Pradesh, whose electoral fate will be decided on Thursday. The eight Lok Sabha seats are Mathura, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Nagina, Hathras, Aligarh, Amroha and Bulandshahr. In 2014, the BJP had won all.
In Bihar, 86.01 lakh voters across Bhagalpur, Banka, Kishanganj, Katihar and Purnea Lok Sabha constituencies will decide the fate of 68 candidates.
Five seats in Assam and one seat in Manipur will see polling on Thursday. In West Bengal, the EC has deployed 194 companies of central forces in the three constituencies going to polls to cover 80 per cent of the 5,390 booths for free and fair polling.
The fight for the lone Lok Sabha seat in Puducherry is expected to be mainly between the ruling Congress, which has put up former Speaker V Vaithilingam and the opposition AINRC’s K Narayanasamy.
The Lok Sabha polls are being held in seven-phases for 543 seats. The counting of votes will be conducted on May 23.
(With inputs from agencies)