Lok Sabha polls set to end with final phase on Saturday, PM Modi among candidates

New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) India's democratic exercise, unparalleled in its expanse, vibrancy, and outreach, is set to end its course on Saturday with polling for the remaining 57 Lok Sabha seats in eight states/UTs, extending from the plains of Punjab to the ghats of Varanasi and its eastern UP hinterland, and the hills of Himachal to the teeming urban sprawl of Kolkata and its environs.

The 57 seats, including 13 reserved for SCs and three for STs, are in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab (13 each), West Bengal (9), Bihar (8), Odisha (6), Himachal Pradesh (4), Jharkhand (3), and Chandigarh (1). Polling will also be held for the remaining 42 seats in Odisha in the simultaneous Assembly elections there.

Also in a key sideshow, bypolls to six Assembly constituencies in Himachal Pradesh are scheduled on Saturday - and their results will determine the fate of the Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu government.

The bypolls were necessitated after six Congress MLAs cross-voted in the Rajya Sabha elections and subsequently resigned from their seats to join the BJP.

There are a total of 908 candidates in the fray, with the maximum in Punjab (328) and the least in the adjoining UT of Chandigarh (19).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Varanasi) heads the list of prominent candidates in this phase, while the other BJP candidates include Union Ministers Anurag Thakur in Himachal Pradesh's Hamirpur, R.K. Singh in Bihar's Arrah, and Pratap Sarangi from Odisha's Balasore, former Union Ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad from Patna Sahib and Preneet Kaur from Patiala, actress Kangana Ranaut from Himachal Pradesh's Mandi, ex-IFS officer and former envoy to US Taranjit Singh Sandhu (Amritsar), and former PM Chandra Shekhar's son Neeraj Shekhar from UP's Ballia.

Also in the fray are leaders of NDA constituents - Apna Dal-Sonelal chief Anupriya Patel from UP's Mirzapur, Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party's Arvind Rajbhar from UP's Ghosi, and RLM chief Upendra Kushwaha from Bihar's Karakat, where he not only faces CPI-ML-L's Raja Ram Singh Kushwaha but also Bhojpuri star Pawan Singh contesting as an Independent nominee.

Congress candidates include former Union Ministers Manish Tewari from Chandigarh and Anand Sharma from Himachal's Kangra, former Himachal CM Virbhadra Singh's son Vikramaditya Singh from Mandi, Ajay Rai from Varanasi, former Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi from Jalandhar, and state unit chief Amarinder Singh Raja Warring from Ludhiana.

Other significant candidates are West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee's nephew Abhishek Banerjee, who will be seeking to retain his Diamond Harbour seat, SAD leader and former Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal from Bathinda, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav's daughter Misa Bharti from Pataliputra, Samajwadi Party's Kajal Nishad from Gorakhpur, where the Bhojpuri actress takes on industry star and sitting BJP MP Ravi Kishan, CPI-M's Sujan Chakraborty against sitting Trinamool MP Sougata Roy in Dum Dum, and Saira Shah Halim against sitting Trinamool MP Mala Roy in Kolkata Dakshin.

The electorate for the final round of the Lok Sabha elections comprises over 10.06 crore voters - 5.24 crore males, 4.82 crore females, and 3,574 of the third gender, the Election Commission said, adding that around 10.9 lakh polling officials have been deployed across 1.09 lakh polling stations.

"Polling parties have been dispatched along with machines and poll materials to their respective polling stations. The polling stations are ready to welcome the voters with all basic facilities, including ample shade, drinking water, ramps, and toilets to ensure that polling takes place in a comfortable and secure environment.

"Concerned CEOs and state machineries have been directed to take adequate measures to manage the adverse impact of hot weather or rainfall wherever predicted," the EC said.

While polling will begin at 7 a.m., the "closure of poll timings may differ PC wise", the poll panel said.

With this, the mammoth seven-phase Lok Sabha elections will conclude and all will wait for the counting of votes slated to be held on June 4.


traffic analytics