NEW DELHI: Curtains came down on a long-drawn, acrimonious, no-holds-barred poll campaign, which started with the Election Commission of India announcing dates of Lok Sabha election 2019 on March 10, on Friday. The fate of 918 candidates contesting from 59 Lok Sabha constituencies spread across seven states and one Union Territory will be sealed at the end of voting on May 19.
Over 10.01 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the last round of voting. The maximum number of seats going to poll in the seventh and final phase of Lok Sabha election 2019 are in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab with 13 seats each. While voting in Uttar Pradesh took place in all the seven phases, Punjab has only 13 seats and all of them are going to poll in one phase.
West Bengal (9 seats), Madhya Pradesh (8), Bihar (8), Himachal Pradesh (4) and Jharkhand (3) are the other states along with the Union Territory of Chandigarh (1) which will vote in the final phase, bringing an end to the voting process barring repolls if ordered by the ECI.
This phase will see voting in Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is pitted against Congress candidate Ajay Rai, Samajwadi Party nominee Shalini Yadav and 23 others. One more high profile seat where voting will be held on May 19 is Patna Sahib where incumbent Lok Sabha MP Shatrughan Sinha is challenging his former party colleague and Union Law & Justice and Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. Sinha had won from Patna Sahib in 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections on a BJP ticket but quit the party in March 2019 and joined the Congress.
Among other seats which will see key contest, former Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal is trying his luck from Ferozepur, his wife and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur from Bhatinda, Union Minister Hardeep Puri from Amritsar and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh`s wife Praneet Kaur from Patiala – all in Punjab.
Meanwhile, three-time BJP MP Anurag Thakur is constedting from Himachal Pradesh`s Hamirpur seat and former Union Minister and Congress leader PK Bansal faces sitting BJP MP Kirron Kher in Chandigarh.
In UP, Bhojpuri star Ravi Kishan is contesting as a BJP candidate from the Gorakhpur seat.
In Jharkhand’s Dumka, eight-time MP and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) president Shibu Soren is being challenged by BJP’s Sunil Soren.
In Madhya Pradesh, former Union ministers Kantilal Bhuria, Arun Yadav are in the fray from Ratlam and Khandwa, the latter is set to witness a tough fight between Yadav and ex-MP BJP chief Nandkumar Singh Chauhan.
Meenakshi Natarajan, once a lieutenant of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, is trying her luck again from Mandsaur, after being defeated in 2014.
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West Bengal saw the ECI cracking the whip and invoking Article 324 of the Indian Constitution to end the campaigning on Thursday, 10 pm following large scale poll-related violence including a massive clash between All India Trinamool Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party workers during a roadshow of Amit Shah in Kolkata on Wednesday.
The ECI has set up over 1.12 lakh polling stations for the smooth conduct of voting. The postal ballots, electronic voting machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines will be opened on May 23 at 8 am. The results will be declared after the counting of votes.
Source: Zee News