51 LS seats go to polls today

New Delhi, May 05 (PTI) :
Nearly nine crore voters will decide the fate of 674 candidates, including political bigwigs Rajnath Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Smriti Irani, in the fifth phase of polling on Monday in 51 Lok Sabha constituencies in seven states.
The stakes are high for the ruling BJP and its allies as it had swept 40 of these seats in 2014, leaving just two for the Congress and the rest for other opposition parties such as the Trinamool Congress (seven). Voting will take place in 14 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 12 in Rajasthan, seven seats each in West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, five in Bihar and four in Jharkhand. In Jammu and Kashmir, polling will take place in Ladakh constituency and Pulwama and Shopian districts of Anantnag seat.
The Election Comission has set up 94,000 polling stations/booths and made elaborate security arrangements. In the fifth and smallest phase, total 8.75 crore voters will decide the fate of 674 candidates. With this phase, election will be over in 424 seats and polling in the remaining 118 seats will be held on May 12 and 19. The fifth phase of polling in 14 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh will see a clash of titans, including Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. The BJP had bagged 12 of these seats in 2014 with the Congress winning Sonia Gandhi’s Rae Bareli and Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi — the only two constituencies where the Congress succeeded out of the 80 in the entire state. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is contesting on five seats — Dhaurahra, Sitapur, Mohanlalganj, Fatehpur and Kaisarganj. Its ally Samajwadi Party (SP) is fighting for seven seats — Lucknow, Banda, Kaushambi, Barabanki, Faizabad, Bahraich and Gonda. In Amethi and Rae Bareli, the SP-BSP alliance has not put up any candidate, leaving the two constituencies for the Congress. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is seeking re-election from Lucknow, while his colleague at the Centre Smriti Irani is again taking on Rahul Gandhi in Amethi.
Two former Olympians, one former IAS and one former IPS officer, and two seers are among the 134 candidates whose fate will be decided by voters in Rajasthan’s 12 Lok Sabha seats on Monday. After this phase, polling will come to an end in the desert state.

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