New Delhi: The fate of RJD’s Lalu Prasad, BJP’s Murli Manohar Joshi and TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao will be decided on Thursday in the polling for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections that was marked by bitter exchanges between petulant politicians.
A total of 124 constituencies spread over 15 states and two Union Territories will go to the polls with a total electorate of 14.31 crores. The polling would be held from 07:00am to 05:00pm in most constituencies and in naxal-infested areas.
Prominent among those seeking election to the lower house of Parliament in the first phase are Congress’ Renuka Chowdhury and Shashi Tharoor, actress Vijayasanthi, NTR’s daughter D Purandeswari and former union minister B Dattatreya.
While all 20 seats in Kerala, 11 in Chhattisgarh and two in Meghalaya would go to polls in a single phase on Thursday, polling would be held in 13 out of 40 seats in Bihar, 16 out of 80 in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra 13 out of 48, Andhra Pradesh 22 out of 42, Jharkhand 6 out of 14, Orissa 10 out of 21, Assam 3 out of 14, Arunachal Pradesh 2 out of 2, Manipur 1 out of 2 and Jammu and Kashmir 1 out of 6.
The lone seats in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Mizoram and Nagaland would also be covered.
Voters casting their vote in the first phase will have to wait for more than a month for the results as counting will be taken up only on 16 May.
Elections are also simultaneously being held to 154 assembly constituencies in Andhra Pradesh and 70 assembly seats in Orissa in the first phase.
A total of 1,715 candidates, including 122 women, are seeking elections to the Lok Sabha. The polling would be held across 1.85 lakh election stations. As has become customary, voters would be exercising their franchise through electronic voting machines (EVMs).
The campaigning for the first phase of the polls, which ended on Tuesday, was mostly peaceful but verbally violent. with politicians making personal attacks. The highlight remains Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s retort to the repeated attacks by his BJP rival L K Advani, who had called him the “weakest”, and Varun Gandhi’s alleged hate-speech in the Lok Sabha constituency of Pilibhit.
Varun has since given an undertaking to the Supreme Court that he would not make any speeches that incite communal passions.
The Supreme Court will be hearing the matter on Thursday when parts of the country would already be voting to decide who would go to Lok Sabha.