New Delhi/Kolkata/Hyderabad, May 6 UNI | 3 months ago

A day after electoral storm, there was a lull today. A massive tempest of voters ,according to detailed information advisory of the election commission, will batter seven states including coastal Andhra districts, large areas in West Bengal, Bihar, eastern and central Uttar Pradesh, Himalayan tracts of Himachal, Uttarakhand, Kashmir Valley and reaches of Ladakh.

A day-long polling will take place in 64 seats tomorrow in seven states under heightened vigil for millions of voters at scores of polling booths.

Taking strong note of the virulent campaign that ended in these areas yesterday, and surcharged environs sweeping these belts, law enforcing agencies have reviewed their security paraphernalia and left stern directives with authorities to deal firmly those fomenting trouble.

Amid heightened security for the once Maoist-dominated Jangalmahal area , six West Bengal constituencies would go to poll in the fourth of the five-phase Lok Sabha elections tomorrow.

The election in Bankura, Jhargram, Purulia, Medinipur, Bishnupur and Asansol spread over four districts, will be held under stepped up vigilance of the Election Commission following opposition clamour against rigging and malpractices in the third phase.

Bollywood playback singer Babul Supriyo, former Bengali film actors Sandhya Roy and Moon Moon Sen and veteran CPI(M) leader Basudeb Acharia are among the 72 contestants involved in the fray.

An electorate of 88,77,071, comprising 4,608,838 men and 42,68,191 women, are expected to press EVM buttons in the 11,361 polling booths.

In 2009, the Left Front, then in power in the state, won all these six seats even though riding a strong anti-establishment wave, led by Mamata Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress and its ally Congress won most of the 42 seats in the state.

In Bankura, nine-time winner Basudeb Acharia defends his seat against film actress and Trinamool Congress rival Srimati Deb Barma (Moon Moon Sen), while Prabodh Panda, the sitting MP of the CPI, faces the main challenge from actress Sandhya Roy, who makes her electoral debut in Medinipur. Asansol will witness an absorbing battle with sitting MP Bansagopal Choudhury of the CPI(M) being pitted against Trinamool Congress trade union leader Dola Sen and popular playback singer Babul Supriyo of the BJP.

Route marches and flag marches have also been undertaken in the Jangalmahal area comprising parts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts. Two helicopters are on standby for the three districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia along with medical support teams.

In view of the sensitive nature of the region, the EC has reduced polling time by two hours in the Assembly segments of Jhargram, Binpur and Bandwan under Jhargram Parliamentary constituency, and Balarampur, Baghmundi and Jaypur under Purulia Parliamentary constituency.

Sporting broad smiles, contestants with backers in toe, braved torrid weather conditions-sweltering heat in Seemandhara, and blazing sun in other areas-and went to door steps of voters and for personal contacts.

Teams of UNI correspondents, which fanned out in these areas, noticed that contestants were seen leaving instructions to supporters for booth management and prevailing upon voters for huge turn outs.

At a number of places, poll parties have already arrived and taken positions for tomorrow's show. In sensitive areas, para military forces mounted an extra vigil specially in Seemandhra, Bihar and West Bengal tracts.

Polling in the penultimate round will take place in Andhra Pradesh (25 seats), Uttar Pradesh(15), Bihar (seven),West Bengal ( six), Uttarakhand (five), Himachal (four) and Jammu and Kashmir (two). Elections will also take place simultaneously for 175 Assembly seats in Seemandhra.

In 2009 in this round, Congress had won on 34 seats, BSP and JD(U) five each, BJP, TDP and CPI-M( four each),SP(three), RJD (two) and CPI, Forward Bloc, NC and Independent one apiece.

A blast occurred in a government school in Baramulla parliamentary constituency, going to polls tomorrow, official sources said.

However, a police spokesman said there was no designated polling booth in the school building. Meanwhile, educational institutions, where polling stations have been set up, remained closed.

In Bihar, all arrangements have been made for tomorrow's polls for seven seats.

The Lok Sabha seats for which the polling will be held are Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Muzaffarpur, Maharajganj, Saran, Hajipur and Ujiyarpur.

Polling will also be held in by-elections to Maharajganj and Chirayia Assembly constituencies.

Among the aspirants in the electoral battle for the fifth phase are former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi, erstwhile Bihar minister Janardan Singh Sigriwal, ex-Union minister Rajiv Pratap Rudi, former Union minister and LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan, sitting RJD MP Prabhunath Singh, sitting JD(U) MP Ram Sundar Das, ex-Union minister and Congress leader Akhilesh Prasad Singh, Congress leader Sanjeev Prasad Toni, Nitya Nand Rai, Rama Devi, and Lovely Anand.

All eyes are on Hajipur (SC) and Saran Lok Sabha seats from where prominent stalwarts are in the fray. In Hajipur, former Union Minister Ramvilas Paswan is pitted against sitting JD(U) MP Ram Sundar Das, a nonagenarian fighter.

The struggle in Saran is also important for both BJP and RJD as it may prove to be the litmus test for the parties.

Following conviction of RJD chief Lalu Prasad in the multicrore fodder scam by a Ranchi court, the party has fielded former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi, leader of the party in the state legislative council.

Rabri is fighting against BJP stalwart Rajiv Pratap Rudi, who was defeated by Mr Prasad in the last Lok Sabha election.

The battle of Maharajganj Lok Sabha seat has also become interesting as former Bihar minister Janardan Singh Sigriwal is facing sitting RJD MP Prabhunath Singh, who is being considered a heavyweight political leader of the area.

Out of the seven Lok Sabha seats, four are in the grip of JD(U), two are held by RJD and one by BJP. In 15th Lok Sabha, Maharajganj was represented by Prabhunath Singh, Saran by Lalu Prasad, Sheohar by Rama Devi, Sitamarhi by Arjun Rai, Muzaffarpur by Captain Jay Narayan Nishad and Ujiyarpur by Ashwamegh Devi.

Tense situation prevailed in main towns and tehsil headquarters while voters are eager to cast their votes in the far flung and remote areas, particularly near the Line of Control (LoC) in Baramulla parliamentary constituency, going to polls tomorrow.

A very tough contest is on cards between ruling National Conference (NC), opposition Peoples Democratic Party(PDP),Peoples Conference (PC) and Awami Itehand Party (AIP) in the constituency where 14 other candidates are in the fray.

In the main towns, including Baramulla, Sopore, Pattan, Handwara, Kupwara, Bandipora, Hajin and Palhalan, the situation was very tense as the number of vehicles on roads was much less as compared to normal days.

Because of security reasons, the polling time has been reduced by an hour in the evening as compared to other parts of the nation.

However, situation was entirely different in villages in far flung and remote areas, particularly near LoC, where people are eager to cast their votes.

A UNI report from Shimla said the stage is set for the single phase polling for the four Lok Sabha seats and bypoll to the lone Assembly seat in Himachal Pradesh tomorrow.

As many as 48.10 lakh voters, including 23.25 lakh women, are expected to exercise their franchise to elect four among the 38 candidates and one among four candidates in the Lok Sabha and bypoll respectively.

Arrangements have been made for holding the elections in the snow-bound Lahaul and Spiti Assembly segment of the Mandi Parliamentary constituency after it remained cut-off from the rest of the country for nearly six months.

The General Reserve Engineers' Force (CREF) toiled hard to open the Rohtang Pass covered under snow, few days ago.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh's wife Pratibha singh is contesting from Mandi.

Of the four seats in the state, the BJP won Shimla (reserved), Kangra and Hamirpur while the Congress bagged Mandi during the 2009 general elections. However, the Congress is battling to get back some of its seats into its kitty which it had lost in the 2009 election. A UNI report from Lucknow said elaborate security is in place for the crucial fifth phase polling in east Uttar Pradesh where 15 Lok Sabha seats will go to polls tomorrow.

This phase of election would be a challenge for the Election Commission as 22 per cent of the total 243 candidates in the fray are of criminal background. Of them,42 are facing serious crime charges including murder,attempt to murder and kidnapping along with rape.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, TV star and Rajya Sabha member Smriti Irani of the BJP, poet Kumar Viswaas (all three from Amethi), BJP general secretary Varun Gandhi (Sultanpur), Union Steel Minister and Congress candidate Beni Prasad Verma (Gonda), UP Congress president NirmalKhatri (Faizabad), and cricketer-turned politician and Congress candidate Mohammad Kaif(Phulpur) are the prominent candidates in the fray in the fifth phase.

Candidates with criminal background are SP's Atiq Ahmed(Shravasti), Mirtasen Yadav(Faizabad), BSP's Pawan Pandey(Sultanpur), Kalipmuni Kanwariya(Phulpur), Braj Bhushan Saran Singh( Kaiserganj) and Jitendra Kumar SinghBabloo( Faizabad).

Altogether there are around 2.62 crore electorate in this phase including 1.42 crore males and 1.19 crore females.There would be 25,965 polling booths in this phase.

UNI correspondents in Seemandhara area have reported that amid unprecedented security, the stage is ready for the second and final phase of Assembly and Lok Sabha elections tomorrow in 13 districts of Seemandhra in the united Andhra Pradesh.

About two lakh police personnel, including para military and Central forces, have been deployed amid fears of violence during polling, specially in faction-ridden districts of Kurnool, Kaddapa and Anantapur, to ensure orderly and peaceful polling.

About 3.68 crore voters are expected to exercise their franchise to elect 25 Lok Sabha and 175 Assembly members in Seemandhra.

Being seen as one of the most fiercely fought elections, the main rivals - the YSR Congress and the TDP-BJP combine - are expected to be engaged in a neck-and neck contest. According to psephologists, the result could be a photo finish.

The Congress has an outside chance of causing an upset,the pollsters aver.

In all, 333 candidates for the Lok Sabha and 2,243 aspirants for Assembly are trying their electoral fortunes in tomorrow's general elections, the last to be held in the united state.

(Posted on 07-05-2014)