New Delhi, Apr 29 UNI | 3 months ago

Millions of voters in 89 constituencies spread over seven states and two union territories will cast their votes tomorrow under tight vigil and searing heat .

The seventh phase polling will wrap up polling process in 438 seats,leaving only 105 seats in the remaining two rounds on May 7 and 12. Around 14 crore voters are expected to exercise their franchise in this round.

Since morning today,candidates and their supporters are meeting people in personal interactions urging them to turn up in large numbers for balloting.

In the wake of attacks on the retreating polling parties in Jharkhand and Kashmir valley, security arrangements have been beefed up further. At least ten people were killed in the last round on April 24 soon after the polling.

Since morning,district authorities in close rapport with the Election Commission tightened loose ends in the polling arrangements including making preparations for a higher turn-out as witnessed in the earlier six rounds.Record number of voters turned up for balloting in the earlier rounds.

Stalwarts whose fate is involved in this round include BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, BJP chief Rajnath Singh, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi besides National Conference leader and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah and former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh

Also in the fray in this round are BJP leader Uma Bharti, musician Bappi Lahri, actress Shatabdi Roy and Kalyan Bannerjee, both Trinamool Congress candidates, cricketer Kirti Azad of BJP, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, wife of SAD president and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and actor-turned-politician Vinod Khanna.

In Gujarat, all the 26 seats are going to polls in this phase. Mr Modi is contesting from Vadodara in the state besides Varanasi which would go to polls on May 7.

In Uttar Pradesh, the 14 seats involved in this round are Dhaurahra, Sitapur, Misrikh(SC), Unnao, Mohanlalganj(SC), Lucknow, Rae Bareli, Kanpur, Jalaun, Jhansi, Hamirpur, Banda, Fatehpur and Barabanki(SC).

Over 2.25 crore voters are entitled to exercise their franchise in the fourth phase of elections for 14 seats in the state. Lucknow has 29 candidates in the fray followed by 21 each in Unnao and Kanpur. Jalaun has 11 candidates in the fray.

Eleven candidates have serious crime cases against them, including murder, attempt to murder and kidnapping. Of the 233 candidates contesting the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh, as many as 36 have criminal records and 73 are crorepatis.

The BJP has the most herculean task to improve its tally from just one seat won in last elections. In 2009, Congress won six seats in this phase followed by SP four and BSP three. One seat was won by the BJP.

In Punjab, there will be a straight contest between the SAD-BJP alliance and Congress for all the 13 seats that are going to polls on April 30. However, the AAP and BSP have also fielded their candidates in all the constituencies but the AAP,which could emerge as a third force in the state, poses a serious threat to the main parties.

Congress has fielded seasoned politician Ambika Soni (Anandpur Sahib), Amarinder Singh (Amritsar), Congress Legislature Party leader in Vidhan Sabha Sunil Jakhar (Ferozepur), Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa (Gurdaspur), Union Minister Preneet Kaur (Patiala), Harminder Singh Gill (Khadoor Sahib), Santokh Singh Choudhary (Jalandhar-SC), Mohinder Singh Kaypee (Hoshiarpur-SC), Ravneet Singh Bittu (Ludhiana), Joginder Singh (Faridkot), Vijay Inder Singla (Sangrur) and Sadhu Singh (Fatehgarh Sahib-SC).

Former Punjab Finance Minister and PPP chief Manpreet Singh Badal, who parted ways from the SAD in 2011 to form the PPP, is contesting from Bathinda Lok Sabha seat as joint candidate of Congress, PPP and CPI on the Congress election symbol of 'hand'.

In 2009, Congress had grabbed eight seats while five went to the SAD-BJP alliance.

A total of 1,96,07,639 voters, including 92,80,665 women, will decide the fortune of 253 candidates, including 18 women in the 13 parliamentary constituencies.

(Posted on 29-04-2014)