LS polls: Campaigning for 97 seats under phase 2 ends

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New Delhi: Campaigning for the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections ended on Tuesday evening in the 97 constituencies spread across 13 states which will now poll on Thursday, April 18.
They include Tamil Nadu (38), Karnataka (14), Maharashtra (10), Uttar Pradesh (8), Assam (5), Bihar (5), Odisha (5), Chhattisgarh (3), West Bengal (3), Jammu and Kashmir (2), and one each in Manipur, Tripura and Puducherry.
The EC in an order Tuesday evening cancelled the poll in Vellore Lok Sabha constituency in Tamil Nadu over allegations of excess use of money power. Authorities had seized over Rs 10 crore cash from a premises of an associate of a DMK leader recently.
A major chunk of these 97 constituencies is in Tamil Nadu where AIADMK and its rainbow coalition that includes the BJP; and DMK and its group of allies, Congress and Left, are locked in a tough multi-cornered elections that will not just decide the course of the Centre but also the state politics. Also in the fray are AIADMK rebel T T V Dhinakaran’s newly-formed Amma Makkal Muneetra Kazhagam (AMMK), actor Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) and Tamil nationalist outfit Naam Tamizhar Katchi (NTK).
In the last elections, the AIADMK won the majority, 37 of total 39 seats, in the state known for its dramatic brand of politics. But then it had with it its charismatic leader J Jayalaithaa. The BJP and the PMK ended with one each. These are the first major elections in the state in the absence of two stalwarts—J Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi, the doyen of the DMK. In those terms the Lok Sabha results there will decide which of the Dravidian parties will control the state politics henceforth—DMK under MK Stalin or AIADMK under leaders like EK Palaniswamy, the current CM of the state or someone else.
They will also decide who gets a leg-up at the Centre—BJP or Congress—and also the future of other players in the political theatre of state — Dhinakaran and Kamal Haasan. An interesting contest can be seen in Thoothukkudi, where BJP’s state president Tamilisai Soundararajan is contesting against Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi of the DMK.
Meanwhile, two constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir—Srinagar and Udhampur—will also be voting this Thursday amid a bitter debate on Articles 370 and 35-A.
In the key state Uttar Pradesh, the seats going to poll are Nagina, Amroha, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Hathras, Mathura, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, all of which are currently with the BJP. In Mathura, 70-year-old star-politician Hema Malini is contesting what could probably be her last Lok Sabha election given the BJP’s 75-year age limit. Her Bollywood colleague Raj Babbar is contesting in the neighbouring Fatehpur Sikri.
Of the five seats in the Seemanchal region of Bihar—Kishanganj, Katihar, Purnia, Bhagalpur, Banka—BJP’s stake is limited to ally JD(U) which is fighting hard to wrest them from ‘mahagathbandhan’ players. Currently, Congress and RJD hold two each and NCP one of these five seats.
In Karnataka, where the BJP won 17 of the 28 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, 14 constituencies will poll on Thursday. They include the much-in-news Bangalore South, a seat held by late BJP leader Ananth Kumar and where now the party has fielded young Tejasvi Surya against Congress’ BK Hariprasad.
In Assam five seats — Karimganj, Silchar, Autonomous district, Mangaldoi and Nawgong — will poll this Thursday. The Autonomous district Lok Sabha constituency is one of the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in Assam and consists of two autonomous districts — Dima Hasao and Karbi Anglong — and is home to several tribal groups. Congress’ Sushmita Dev, president of All India Mahila Congress, is defending the Silchur seat.

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