India votes for most crucial phase

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Almost 18.5 crore voters in Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Tripura and Union Territories Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu will decide 116 MPs as the most crucial and largest phase of India’s general Election begins at 7 a.m.

The stakes are high for the ruling BJP and its allies as they bagged 66 seats out of these 116 spread across 14 states and Union Territories in 2014 general election, while the Congress and its alliance partners won 27, and the rest went to other opposition parties and Independents.

Besides all seats in Gujarat (26) and Kerala (20), voting will be held in four seats in Assam, five in Bihar, seven in Chhattisgarh, 14 each in Karnataka and Maharashtra, six in Odisha, 10 in Uttar Pradesh, five in West Bengal, two in Goa, and one each in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Tripura.

The presidents of two of India’s biggest parties – the BJP and Congress — are among the key candidates in the third phase. While BJP’s Amit Shah is making his Lok Sabha election debit from Gujarat’s Gandhinagar, Congress president Rahul Gandhi is contesting from Kerala’s Wayanaud, which is his second seat apart from family bastion Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.

The polling in Tripura East constituency, which was earlier scheduled for April 18, will be held in this phase, as also in a part of the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat in Jammu and Kashmir, where election is being held in three phases.

About 18.56 crore voters are eligible for voting in this phase and the Election Commission has set up 2.10 lakh polling booths/stations and has made elaborate security arrangements.

In the first two phases, election was held to 91 and 96 seats on April 11 and April 18 respectively. Elections are being held in seven phases and with the completion of third phase, the election process will be completed in southern states.

Meanwhile, campaigning is being held for the remaining phases of the seven-phased Lok Sabha elections.

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