Voting will be held on Saturday for 57 seats in the last phase of Lok Sabha elections

The Uncut

Varanasi/Chandigarh. In the seventh and final phase of the Lok Sabha elections, voting will be held on Saturday for 57 seats in the Union Territory of Chandigarh and seven states. In this phase, voting will also take place in the Varanasi parliamentary constituency from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is contesting for the third consecutive time. In this phase, voting will take place in the Union Territory of Chandigarh, all 13 seats in Punjab, four in Himachal Pradesh, 13 in Uttar Pradesh, nine in West Bengal, eight in Bihar, six in Odisha and three Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand.

Elections for the remaining 42 assembly seats of Odisha and by-elections for six assembly seats of Himachal Pradesh will also be held simultaneously. A total of 904 candidates are in the fray. Prominent candidates among them include Union Minister Anurag Thakur, Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti and actress Kangana Ranaut. More than 10.06 crore citizens, including about 5.24 crore men, 4.82 crore women and 3,574 ‘third gender’ voters, are eligible to vote in this phase.

With the voting on Saturday, the voting process which started on April 19 will end. So far, voting has been done for 486 Lok Sabha seats in 28 states and union territories. Voting was also done for the assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. Counting of votes will be done on June 4. As per the guidelines of the Election Commission, television channels and news organizations will be able to broadcast the exit poll figures and its results after 6:30 pm on June 1.

The Election Commission said that parties of polling personnel have been dispatched to their respective polling stations with EVMs and election material. It said that basic facilities like drinking water, ramps and toilets are being provided at 1.09 lakh polling stations so that voting can take place in a comfortable and safe environment. The Commission appealed to the voters to vote in large numbers and participate in the polling process with responsibility and pride. The polling in the first six phases was 66.14 percent, 66.71 percent, 65.68 percent, 69.16 percent, 62.2 percent and 63.36 percent respectively.

During the election campaign, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders led by Modi accused the Congress and the opposition coalition of parties ‘INDIA’ (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) of being corrupt, anti-Hindu, involved in appeasement and dynastic politics. The opposition parties are claiming that the BJP is anti-farmer, anti-youth and will change and abolish the Constitution if it wins the election.

Modi reached Kanyakumari on Thursday evening, where he is meditating at a place associated with Swami Vivekananda. Since the Election Commission announced the schedule for the Lok Sabha elections on March 16, Modi has conducted 206 public relations programs, including rallies and road shows.

The 13 Lok Sabha seats of this phase in Uttar Pradesh include Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria, Bansgaon (reserved), Ghosi, Salempur, Ballia, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur and Robertsganj (reserved), which are located in 11 districts. Out of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in the seventh phase of the state, 11 are of general category, while two are reserved for scheduled castes.

Among the prominent candidates in this phase, apart from Prime Minister Modi from Varanasi, Union Minister Mahendra Nath Pandey (Chandauli), Union Minister of State Anupriya Patel (Mirzapur) and Union Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Choudhary (Maharajganj) are trying their luck, while former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar’s son Neeraj Shekhar (Ballia), Mafia Mukhtar Ansari’s brother Afzal Ansari (Ghazipur), Bhojpuri actor Ravi Kishan and actress Kajal Nishad (Gorakhpur) are also contesting the elections.

Modi is contesting the elections from Varanasi, an ancient spiritual city situated on the banks of Ganga river, to win for the third consecutive time.
Prime Minister Modi is being challenged by Ajay Rai, the candidate of opposition alliance ‘India’ and the president of the Uttar Pradesh unit of Congress, on the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat. Rai has challenged Prime Minister Modi on this seat twice before. Voting will be held on Saturday in South Bengal, which is considered the traditional stronghold of the Trinamool Congress. In the seventh phase of the Lok Sabha elections, voting will be held in Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbor, Jadavpur, Kolkata South and Kolkata North seats of West Bengal. Trinamool Congress had won all these seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Trinamool Congress stalwart Abhishek Banerjee is contesting from Diamond Harbor. The party presents this seat as an ‘ideal constituency’ while the opposition tries to present it as a ‘laboratory of violence’. Two-time MP Abhishek Banerjee is pitted against Pratikur Rahman of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Abhijit Das of the BJP.

The entire country is watching the electoral battle in the minority-dominated Basirhat Lok Sabha seat and especially in the Sandeshkhali block. Politics here had heated up due to allegations of atrocities on women and land grabbing by local Trinamool leaders.
The BJP has fielded Rekha Patra, a local woman who has been vocal in protesting on these issues, against Trinamool Congress’s strong leader Haji Nurul Islam. The CPI(M) has fielded former MLA Nirpada Sardar, making the contest on this seat triangular.

Voting will also be held in this phase for 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab and the only seat of Chandigarh, in which the ‘India’ alliance partners Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are contesting separately and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have also entered the election fray alone. BJP and SAD are contesting the Lok Sabha elections on their own for the first time in the state after 1996. On the other hand, two parties of the ‘India’ alliance (Congress and AAP) have fielded their own candidates. In Mandi, the prestige of Ranaut and Himachal Pradesh minister Vikramaditya Singh is at stake.

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur is contesting from Hamirpur for the fifth time and former Union Minister Anand Sharma is the Congress candidate from Kangra Lok Sabha constituency. In this phase in Bihar, voting will take place in Sasaram, Nalanda, Patna Sahib, Patliputra, Ara, Buxar, Karakat and Jehanabad where about 1.62 crore voters will decide the political future of 134 candidates.
In the state, Union Minister RK Singh is trying to make a ‘hat-trick’ of victory from Ara, where his main rival is the sitting MLA Sudama Prasad of CPI-ML. Senior BJP MP Ravi Shankar Prasad is the candidate from Patna Sahib and he is pitted against Congress spokesperson Anshul Abhijeet. In Pataliputra, Misa Bharti is trying her luck for the third time. BJP MP Ramkripal Yadav is trying to make a ‘hat-trick’ of victory on this seat.

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