Polling will be held in 59 Lok Sabha constituencies across seven states and one Union territory in the seventh and final phase of the elections on Sunday. With this, voting for 542 of the 543 seats of the 17th Lok Sabha ends. The election for Vellore constituency in Tamil Nadu was cancelled last month.
All constituencies in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, as well as parts of Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal will vote on Sunday.
The votes cast in all seven phases will be counted on May 23. News outlets and pollsters are expected to release exit poll results on Sunday evening after voting ends.
As many as 918 candidates are in the fray this time, the government said in a press release. Over 10 crore voters – 5.3 crore men, 4.7 crore women and 3,435 third-gender voters – are eligible to vote at 1.12 lakh polling stations across the country on Sunday.
The elections began on April 11, with subsequent phases held on April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6 and May 12. The voter turnout in the first phase was over 69.62%, while it was 69.44% in the second phase. The third phase saw 68.40% of the voters turning up, and the fourth phase had 65.50%. The voter turnout in the fifth phase of polling was 64.16%, and it was 64.60% in the sixth phase.
Bye-elections for four Assembly seats in Tamil Nadu, and one each in Bihar, Goa and Karnataka will also take place on Sunday.
The last week of the election campaign was marked by controversies surrounding violence at a Bharatiya Janata Party roadshow in Kolkata, and BJP leader Pragya Singh Thakur calling Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a patriot. On Friday, the last day of campaigning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed his first press meet in five years, though he did not answer any questions.
The Chandigarh constituency, currently represented by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Kirron Kher, will vote today. Over 6.19 lakh voters are eligible to cast their votes at 597 polling stations.
Thirty-six candidates are in the fray, nine of whom are women. Kher, an actor-turned-politician, is seeking a re-election, while the other prominent candidates are four-time MP and former Union minister Pawan Kumar Bansal of the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party’s Parveen Kumar. In the 2014 election, Kher had defeated Bansal by 69,642 votes to enter the Lower House for the first time.
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Voting will take place in eight constituencies of south-western Bihar in the seventh phase. As many as 15,811 polling stations have been set up, and 1.53 crore voters are eligible to cast their votes. Twenty of the 157 candidates in the fray are women.
Patna Sahib will have the most keenly watched contest – between Shatrughan Sinha of the Congress and Ravi Shankar Prasad of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Sinha has been a BJP MP from the constituency twice, but switched to the Congress last month.
Other major candidates in the fray include Misha Bharti of the Rashtriya Janata Dal from Pataliputra, former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar of the Congress from Sasaram, and Upendra Kushwaha of the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party from Karakat.
Bharti is the daughter of former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. Kushwaha left the National Democratic Alliance in December. He also contested from the state’s Ujiarpur seat on April 29.
All four Lok Sabha seats in Himachal Pradesh – Kangra, Hamirpur, Mandi and Shimla – will vote on Sunday. The number of registered voters in these constituencies is 53.3 lakh, and 7,723 polling stations have been set up.
Mandi constituency was in the news last month when the BJP’s state unit president Satpal Singh Satti threatened to chop off the hands of anyone who raises a finger at his party’s leaders, particularly Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sitting BJP MP Anurag Thakur is seeking a re-election from Hamirpur.
The three remaining constituencies of Rajmahal, Dumka and Godda are voting on Sunday. These seats have 45.6 lakh voters, who can cast their votes at 4,315 polling stations.
The BJP, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Trinamool Congress, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Bahujan Samaj Party have all fielded candidates in Rajmahal and Dumka. The two seats are reserved for candidates from the Scheduled Tribes.
The JMM’s Vijay Hansdak had defeated the BJP’s Hemlal Murmu in Rajmahal by over 41,000 votes in 2014.
In Dumka, eight-time Lok Sabha MP Shibu Soren of the JMM is seeking re-election against BJP leader Sunil Soren, who was once his protege.
Polling in eight constituencies of western Madhya Pradesh will take place in the final phase. Over 1.49 crore voters are eligible to cast their votes at 18,411 polling stations, where they will choose among 82 candidates.
The Congress, the BJP and the Bahujan Samaj Party are the main parties that have fielded candidates in all the eight seats. The Congress had replaced the BJP government in the state in Assembly elections in December.
Eight-time Indore MP Sumitra Mahajan is out of the poll race this time. Mahajan had announced she would not contest the elections after the party’s delay in naming a candidate. She had won the prestigious seat since 1989. The BJP later named Shankar Lalwani from the constituency, who is up against Pankaj Sanghvi of the Congress and Deepchand Ahirwal of the BSP.
Dewas has been lying vacant since sitting MP, Manohar Untwal of the BJP, got elected to the state Assembly in 2018. Untwal had won the 2014 election by over 2.6 lakh votes. The candidates this time include folk singer Prahlad Singh Tipaniya, who has been fielded by the Congress, and former judge Mahendra Singh Solanki from the BJP. Tipaniya is a Padma Shri winner.
The BJP has won Ujjain in every election since 1989, except the one in 2009.
Another seat that goes to polls is Mandsaur, which was the site of farmer protests in 2017. Six farmers were killed in police firing. However, in the Assembly polls held last year, the BJP won seven of the eight Assembly seats in the constituency.
All 13 constituencies of Punjab are set to vote on Sunday in the final phase. These seats have 2.09 crore registered voters, who will choose among 278 candidates, 24 of them women. The Election Commission has set up 23,213 polling stations.
Bollywood actor Sunny Deol is contesting for the BJP against the incumbent MP Sunil Jakhar of the Congress. The constituency was a BJP stronghold until Jakhar’s election in 2017 in a bye-poll.
Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri is the BJP candidate from Amritsar, while another major candidate on Sunday is sitting MP Bhagwant Mann of the Aam Aadmi Party in Sangrur.
The Congress is depending on the achievements of its state government to get votes. The Aam Aadmi Party has been hit by factionalism and disagreements with the top leadership in the last year.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the candidate who will get the most attention as he seeks re-election from Varanasi. Varanasi is one of 13 constituencies in the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh that will vote on Sunday.
A total of 167 candidates are in the fray. The number of registered voters in these constituencies is 2.36 crore, who will cast their votes at 25,874 polling stations.
In Varanasi, the Congress has again fielded Ajay Rai despite speculation that party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi would contest against Modi. Rai, a five-time MLA, had finished third in 2014 against Modi and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal. The AAP has no candidate here this time. The seat has 26 candidates. The Election Commission had disqualified former Border Security Force jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav, who had initially filed his nomination from Varanasi as an independent candidate before the Samajwadi Party offered him a ticket.
Chief Minister Adityanath was the MP from Gorakhpur from 1999 to 2017, but when a bye-election was held after he became chief minister, the BJP lost the seat to an alliance of the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party. The BJP has fielded popular Bhojpuri actor Ravi Kishan this time.
The other constituencies that go to polls on Sunday are Maharajganj, Kushi Nagar, Deoria, Bansgaon, Ghosi, Salempur, Ballia, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Mirzapur and Robertsganj.
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Nine Lok Sabha constituencies in southern West Bengal will vote in the final phase on Sunday. Over 1.49 crore voters are eligible to cast their votes at 17,042 polling stations. The number of candidates in the fray is 111.
Violence has marred all six previous phases of polling in West Bengal. Election campaigning in the state has been fierce and shrill, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Modi frequently trading barbs at each other.
This week, the Election Commission decided to curtain the campaigning time in the state by 20 hours after violence broke out during a roadshow of BJP National President Amit Shah on Tuesday. The state government has appointed a Special Investigation Team to inquire into the vandalism of a statue of Bengali writer and reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar during the violence. Both the BJP and the Trinamool Congress have blamed each other for the violence.
Most seats that go to polls were Left strongholds until a decade ago, but now the contests involve four to five major parties – the BJP, the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the CPI(M) and the Bahujan Samaj Party. The BJP is gradually making inroads in the state.
Three-time MP Saugata Roy of the Trinamool Congress is running for re-election in Dum Dum, challenged by the BJP’s Samik Bhattacharya. The constituency has three other major candidates, from the Congress, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the BSP. Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar of the Trinamool Congress is also hoping to get elected for a third consecutive term from Barasat.
The Trinamool Congress has fielded 29-year-old actor Nusrat Jahan in Basirhat, hoping to get minority as well as youth votes. Standing against her in the communally polarised seat is senior BJP leader Sayantan Basu. The seat was represented in the outgoing Lok Sabha by the Trinamool’s Idris Ali.
In Jadavpur, the CPI(M) is counting on Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, a former Kolkata mayor, but here too, the Trinamool Congress has fielded a celebrity candidate, actor Mimi Chakraborty. The two seats in Kolkata, where Amit Shah’s roadshow took place on Tuesday, also vote on Sunday. Three of the five candidates from major parties in South Kolkata are women.
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Here is a state-wise list of constituencies that will vote on May 19:
Chandigarh: One constituency
Bihar: Eight constituencies
- Patna Sahib
Himachal Pradesh: Four constituencies
Jharkhand: Three constituencies
Madhya Pradesh: Eight constituencies
Punjab: 13 constituencies
- Khadoor Sahib
- Anandpur Sahib
- Fatehgarh Sahib
Uttar Pradesh: 13 constituencies
- Kushi Nagar
West Bengal: Nine constituencies
- Dum Dum
- Diamond Harbour
- Kolkata Dakshin
- Kolkata Uttar