New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L.K.Advani and many other top leaders will face the test Thursday. As the country goes in for the third phase of polling, voting will be held in 107 constituencies spread over nine states and two union territories. In Sikkim, 32 Assembly Constituencies are also going to polls simultaneously.
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A distinguishing factor in this phase is that it has a record 258 candidates who have a criminal background and 223 are millionaires. Out of the 8,28,804 polling stations in the country 1,65,112 stations will be used this time. Votes will be cast through electronic voting machines.
Apart from Sonia Gandhi who will be hoping to get re-elected from Rae Bareli and Advani who is contesting from Gandhinagar in Gujarat, other prominent candidates facing the electorate are- former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, JD-U chief Sharad Yadav, former Karnataka chief minister S Bangarappa and Union ministers Sriprakash Jaiswal and Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Among the seven national parties, Bahujan Samaj Party is contesting the maximum number of seats, followed by the BJP in 95 and the Congress in 93 seats. Other four national parties in the fray are NCP, CPI(M), CPI and RJD.
There are 101 women candidates out of 1,567 people contesting the elections.
Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh has 41 candidates- the maximum number in this pahse from a single constituency. Lucknow also has the highest number of women candidates, that’s five.
For the Congress the third phase could be more difficult. After the backlash the party faced over clean chit by CBI to Jagdish Tytler in the 1984 anti-Sikh riot case, the party is again in the line of fire. This time it’s the withdrawal of Interpol Red Corner Notice by the CBI against Bofors prime accused Ottavio Quattrocchi. Though between the second and the third phase BJP star campaigner Narendra Modi also was at the receiving end over the Supreme Court order relating to 2002 Godhra riots, the Quattrocchi issue has overshadowed everything else.
After the completion of the third phase, polling would be over in 372 of the 543 seats. Polling for the remaining 171 seats would take place in two phases on 7 May for 85 seats and 13 May for 86 seats. Elections for the 15th Lok Sabha have been divided in five phases, the last of which will be on 13 May. The results will be announced on 16 May, exactly a month after the first phase of polling.