New Delhi: Braving sizzling temperatures, voters came out in sizeable numbers to exercise their franchise in the third phase of Lok Sabha polls in nine states and two union territories, which was by and large peaceful barring stray incidents of violence in Bihar and West Bengal.
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The fate of political heavyweights Sonia Gandhi, LK Advani, HD Deve Gowda and Jaswant Singh will be decided on Thursday.
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As soon as the polling began, Maoists exploded a landmine near a booth at Biramdih in West Bengal’s Purulia district, injuring two central paramilitary force jawans.
Three policemen were injured when supporters of two rival candidates clashed and indulged in stone throwing, leading police to open fire in the air to quell them at a booth in Mongra in Bihar’s Katihar district.
Voting began on moderate to brisk note in 107 constituencies in the third round of the five-phased elections and would end at 1700 hrs.
While Bihar registered 10 to 12% voter turnout, Sikkim saw 15% of turnout in the initial hours. Elections to Sikkim assembly is also being held on Thursday.
Maharashtra recorded 5 to 10% of polling in the first three hours, while 10% voters in Madhya Pradesh cast their ballot.
A total of 1,567 candidates, including 101 women, are fighting for 107 seats in this phase. Over 14.4 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise across 1.65 lakh booths, where ballots would be cast electronically.
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Tight security arrangements have been put in place to thwart any untoward incident.
Heat wave conditions prevailed in most parts of the country.
While Congress president Sonia Gandhi is seeking re-election from Rae Bareli, one of the traditional constituencies of the Nehru-Gandhi family, Advani, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, is bidding to hold on to the Gandhinagar seat as he has done in every election since 1991.
Prominent candidates in the fray in the third phase include Janata Dal (United) chief Sharad Yadav, Congress’ Milind Deora, Priya Dutt and Jyotiraditya Scindia and former Karnataka chief minister S Bangarappa.
Polling for 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat will be completed at one go. Besides Gujarat, polling will be held in 16 seats in Madhya Pradesh, 15 in Uttar Pradesh, 14 in West Bengal, 11 each in Bihar and Karnataka, 10 in Maharashtra and one each in Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
The results will be out on 16 May. The five-round general elections began on 16 April and so far elections have been completed to 265 Lok Sabha seats of the 545-member lower house of Parliament.