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Phase 1 of elections: Polling on Friday for 102 LS constituencies, 92 assembly seats

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NEW DELHI, April 18: Polling for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections is set to take place on Friday in which more than 1,600 candidates, including eight Union ministers, two former chief ministers and an ex-governor will test their electoral fate.

As many as 102 parliamentary constituencies across 21 states and Union territories will go to polls in the first phase which is also the largest of the seven phases of the elections.

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Of the 102 Lok Sabha seats, the BJP had won 39 in 2019, with the ruling alliance NDA bagging 12, five and three of them in Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and West Bengal, respectively. The BJP’s existing allies hold seven of them.

Voting will begin at 7 am and end at 6 pm, though the closure of poll timings differs in some seats.

The Election Commission has deployed over 18 lakh polling personnel across 1.87 lakh polling stations where over 16.63 crore voters will exercise their franchise.

Voters include 8.4 crore men, 8.23 crore women and 11,371 third gender. There are as many as 35.67 lakh first time voters, besides 3.51 crore young voters in the age group of 20-29 years.

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A total of 41 helicopters, 84 special trains and nearly one lakh vehicles have been deployed to ferry polling and security personnel, the poll panel pointed out.

Webcasting will be done in more than 50 per cent of the polling stations along with deployment of micro observers in all polling stations. Additionally, 361 observers — 127 general, 67 police and 167 expenditure observers — have already reached their constituencies days before the polls. They will serve as the eyes and ears of the Commission. Special observers have also been deployed in certain states.

Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar has been leading the preparations for the Lok Sabha elections for the past two years. He had led a conference of state chief electoral officers at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration.

Amongst the prominent leaders trying their electoral luck in phase one are Union ministers Nitin Gadkari from Nagpur, Kiren Rijiju from Arunachal Pradesh (West), Arjun Ram Meghwal from Bikaner, Sarbanada Sonowal from Dibrugarh in Assam, Sanjeev Baliyan from Muzaffarnagar in western UP, Jitendra Singh from Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir and Bhupendra Yadav from Alwar in Rajasthan.

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Tamilisai Soundararajan, who recently resigned as governor of Telangana and Lt Governor of Puducherry to return to active politics, is contesting from Chennai South Lok Sabha constituency.

Nakul Nath, son of Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath, is seeking reelection from Chhindwara.

Aiming to enhance voter turnout, ahead of the polling, the poll panel had also organised a conference on low voter turnout with focus on parliamentary constituencies with a history of low poll participation in previous elections.

Polling for the 543 seats for electing the 18th Lok Sabha will be held in seven phases. The votes will be counted on June 4. (PTI)




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