New Delhi, April 15:
Campaigning came to an end Tuesday for the sixth phase of general elections that will decide the fate of 122 Lok Sabha seats across 10 states, including West Bengal and Rajasthan which will see their initial rounds.
The sixth phase has the largest number of seats in the 10-phased general election that ends May 12, with the results declared May 16.
After weeks of hectic campaigning, including rallies, road shows and street corner gatherings, the political parties ended their outreach to voters in the evening.
The phase will see elections to seven seats in Bihar, three in Chhattisgarh, one in Jammu and Kashmir, six in Jharkhand, 28 in Karnataka, 10 in Madhya Pradesh, 19 in Maharashtra, one in Manipur, 11 in Odisha, 20 in Rajasthan, 11 in Uttar Pradesh and four in West Bengal.
In West Bengal, campaign drums fell silent for the first phase that covers the four constituencies of Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling.
All eyes are on the Darjeeling seat where football icon Bhaichung Bhutia of the Trinamool Congress is pitted against S.S. Ahluwalia of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) combine.
In Bihar, 117 candidates in the fray across Buxar, Ara, Nalanda, Jehanabad, Munger, Patliputra and Patna Sahib seats.
Among the prominent candidates in the fray are actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha; former union home secretary R.K. Singh and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti.
In Rajasthan, voting will take place in 20 of the state’s 25 constituencies, including Jaipur, Jhunjhunu, Churu, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Barmer, Udaipur, Bhilwara, Ajmer, and Banswara.
In Karnataka, 434 candidates are in the fray for the 28 seats.
An embattled BJP is betting on the popularity of its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to retain as many of the 19 seats it won there in the 2009 elections.
Maharashtra’s arid, backward region of Marathwada and the sugar-rich belt in the western part of the state, besides a part of coastal Konkan, are set for the second phase of elections to 19 seats on Thursday.
Among the big names in the fray are Congress’s union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde in Solapur, BJP’s Gopinath Munde in Beed, Nationalist Congress Party’s Supriya Sule, daughter of party chief Sharad Pawar, in Baramati and former chief minister Ashok Chavan from Nanded.
In Uttar Pradesh, 11 constituencies, including Moradabad, Nagina, Rampur, Aonla, Pilibhit, Bareilly, Budayun, Amroha go to the polls in the second phase of balloting.
A total of 151 candidates are in the fray. Former union minister and BJP candidate Maneka Gandhi is trying her luck for the sixth time in a Lok Sabha contest from Aonla.
In Jammu and Kashmir, union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is facing his career’s biggest challenge in the Udhampur constituency on Thursday.
Three Lok Sabha constituencies of Mahasamund, Rajnandgaon and Kanker in Chhattisgarh go to polls Thursday. Veteran Congress leader Ajit Jogi is contesting from Mahasamund, while Chief Minister Raman Singh’s son Abhishek Singh is making his electoral debut in Rajnandgaon.
Among the seats going to poll in Jharkhand are Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Giridih, and Hazaribagh.