Voting began on Sunday across 59 Lok Sabha constituenciesspanning seven states and a Union Territory across north, central and eastIndia in the final of the mega seven-phase electoral exercise.
A total electorate of over 10.1 crore is eligible to casttheir ballots in this phase which covers all remaining seats in the threestates — Uttar Pradesh (13, including the high-profile Varanasi constituency),Bihar (8) and West Bengal (9) – where polling took place across all seven phases,as well as in Madhya Pradesh (8) and Jharkhand (3) which also saw multi-stagevoting.
All the 13 constituencies in Punjab, one in Chandigarh, andfour in Himachal Pradesh also figure in this phase.
The 918 candidates in this phase include Prime MinisterNarendra Modi from Varanasi, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad who facesactor-politician and sitting MP Shatrughan Sinha (now in the Congress) in PatnaSahib, and actor-turned-politicians Sunny Deol in Gurdaspur (BJP), and MimiChakraborty and Nusrat Jahan, both contesting for the Trinamool Congress fromJadavpur and Basirhat, respectively.
Also contesting are Union Ministers Hardeep Singh Puri(Amritsar), Manoj Sinha (Ghazipur), R.K. Singh (Arrah) — all from BJP,Anupriya Patel of Apna Dal (Mirzapur) Harsimrat Kaur from ally Akali Dal inBathinda and her husband and party President Sukhbir Singh Badal in Ferozepur,former Union Minister Preneet Kaur (Congress) in Patiala, and RJD supremo LaluPrasad's eldest daughter Misa Bharti (Patliputra).
In this phase, the BJP will be defending 30 seats – 11 ofthe 12 it won in Uttar Pradesh in 2014 as it later lost Gorakhpur in a bypoll,seven in Madhya Pradesh, all four in Himachal Pradesh, five in Bihar, one eachin Punjab, Jharkhand and Chandigarh.
Allies Apna Dal won one in Uttar Pradesh and the Akali Dalfour in Punjab, while then ally Rashtriya Lok Samta Party of Upendra Kushwahahad won two in Bihar. The Janata Dal-United, which is now an ally, won one seatin Bihar.
The Congress had won five seats — one in Madhya Pradesh andfour in Punjab.
Four seats were won by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjaband two by the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) in Jharkhand. One seat is currentlyheld by the Samajwadi Party.
In West Bengal, all nine seats were won by the TrinamoolCongress.
Re-polling is also being held in several booths inparliamentary seats in six states and in Assembly constituencies in two. Theseseats include Kerala's Kannur and Kasargod, Tamil Nadu's Dharmapuri, Theni,Thiruvallur, Cuddalore and Erode, Haryana's Faridabad, Uttar Pradesh'sAzamgarh, West Bengal's Bankura, Andhra Pradesh's Chittoor parliamentary andChandgiri Assembly constituencies and 34 Assembly segments in 10 Odishadistricts.
Voting is also being held in bypolls to four Assembly seatsin Tamil Nadu, two in Karnataka and the Panaji Assembly seat, which fell vacantafter death of Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.
The Lok Sabha elections started on April 11. Counting ofvotes will take place on May 23.