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Stage set for fifth phase of Lok Sabha polls, several bigwigs in fray

19 May, 2024 22:15 IST|Sakshi Post

New Delhi, May 19 (IANS) With Lok Sabha elections moving towards its final stages, nearly 9 crore voters in 49 seats, spanning Ladakh's lunar-like terrain to Odisha's rolling uplands, and from UP's Awadh and Bundelkhand to bustling Mumbai and its surroundings, will on Monday seal the fate of 695 candidates, including bigwigs like Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Piyush Goyal, and Smriti Irani, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and NC's Omar Abdullah.

Polling in the fifth phase covers 49 seats in six states - Bihar (5), Jharkhand (3), Maharashtra (13), Odisha (5), UP (14), West Bengal (7) and two Union Territories - Jammu and Kashmir (1) and Ladakh (1). Voting for 35 seats of the Odisha Assembly will also be held in the state's second phase of simultaneous polling.

According to the Election Commission, around 9.47 lakh polling officials have been deployed to facilitate the exercise of franchise by 8.95 crore voters - 4.69 crore males, 4.26 crore females and 5,409 third-gender - across 94,732 polling stations.

Of the voters, over 7.81 lakh are over 85 years old, 24,792 are above 100 years and 7.03 lakh are PwD.

"Polling stations are ready to welcome the voters with ample shade, drinking water, ramps, toilets and other basic facilities to ensure that polling takes place in a comfortable and secure environment. The concerned CEOs/DEOs and State machineries have been advised to take adequate measures to manage hot weather conditions in areas, where it is forecast," the EC said in a statement.

While the fifth phase has the least number of seats in all the phases, most of these are high-profile seats from where top Union Ministers and leaders of national and regional parties are contesting. These include all six seats of Mumbai, as well as UP's Lucknow, Amethi, and Raebareli, and Bihar's Hajipur and Saran.

Union Minister Piyush Goyal is contesting from Mumbai North, where he faces the Congress' Bhushan Patil, his ministerial colleague Bharati Pawar is fighting from Dindori-ST against NCP-SP's Bhaskar Bhagare, and Shiv Sena's Shrikant Shinde, son of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, is in the fray from Kalyan, against SS-UBT's Vaishali Darekar Rane. In Mumbai South, Shiv Sena-UBT leader and former Union Minister Arvind Sawant faces Shiv Sena's Yamini Jadhav.

In UP's Amethi, Union Minister Smriti Irani is eyeing a second victory in the erstwhile Gandhi bastion against family loyalist Kishori Lal Sharma, whereas her 2019 rival Rahul Gandhi has shifted to adjoining Raebareli, held by his mother Sonia Gandhi, and is vying to retain it against BJP's Dinesh Pratap Singh.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is contesting again from Lucknow, where he faces the Samajwadi Party's Ravidas Mehrotra.

Another key contest in UP is Kaiserganj, where sitting MP and former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has stood aside for his son Karan Bhushan Singh, who is contesting as the BJP candidate against the SP's Ram Bhagat Mishra.

In Bihar, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav's daughter Rohini Acharya faces off against BJP candidate and former Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy in Saran, while Lok Janshakti Party-Ram Vilas chief Chirag Paswan will fight from his father's bastion, Hajipur-SC, against Shiv Charan Ram of the RJD.

In Jammu and Kashmir's Baramulla, National Conference Vice President and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah faces the PDP's Faiyaz A. Mir, People's Conference chief Sajad Ghani Lone, and Awami Ittehad Party chief, the jailed Engineer Rashid.

There are a few keen contests on the cards in West Bengal too - especially in Hooghly, where Trinamool Congress candidate and TV anchor Rachna Banerjee faces actress-turned-politician Locket Chatterjee of the BJP, and Howrah, where sitting Trinamool MP and former footballer Prasun Bannerjee confronts CPI-M's Sabyasachi Chatterjee and BJP's Rathin Chakraborty. Then, in Barrackpore, sitting MP Arjun Singh, who is back in the BJP after a shot at rejoining the Trinamool faces Trinamool's Partha Bhowmick.

With the fifth phase, Maharashtra and Ladakh will join the states and Union Territories where the polling process has concluded.

The next and penultimate phase, comprising 58 seats, is slated to be held on May 25, with Haryana and Delhi joining in for a single-phase polling.

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by the Sakshi Post team and is auto-generated from syndicated feed.

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