Campaigning ends for penultimate round of Lok Sabha battle

New Delhi : Campaigning ended Monday evening in 64 Lok Sabha constituencies which go to the polls Wednesday when over 85 million voters will decide the electoral fate of 897 candidates including Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.

Simultaneous assembly polls are scheduled in the Seemandhra region of Andhra Pradesh where polling will be held in 175 constituencies. By-polls are scheduled for assembly seats in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (two each) and Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal (one each).

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This is the penultimate phase of the 10-leg Lok Sabha balloting that started April 7 and will end May 12. The millions of votes will be counted May 16.

Polling will be held Wednesday for 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh, 15 in Uttar Pradesh, seven in Bihar, six in West Bengal, five in Uttarakhand, four in Himachal Pradesh and two in Jammu and Kashmir.

Andhra Pradesh has the maximum of 333 Lok Sabha candidates and Jammu and Kashmir the least: 19.

In Uttar Pradesh, the mostly keenly watched contest is in Amethi where outgoing MP and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi faces a tough challenge from Kumar Vishwas of the AAP and Smriti Irani of the BJP.

BJP’s Feroze Varun Gandhi, son of late Sanjay Gandhi, is fighting it out against Shakeel Ahmed of the Samajwadi Party, Ameeta Singh of the Congress and Shailendra Pratap Singh of the AAP in Sultanpur.

Other key Uttar Pradesh candidates include Beni Prasad Verma (Gonda) of the Congress.

Andhra Pradesh will witness a heated battle for both the Lok Sabha and assembly seats.

Former union Minister D. Purandeswari, daughter of the legendary N.T. Rama Rao, is fighting from Rajampet as a BJP candidate. She quit the Congress after Andhra Pradesh was split.

Incumbent MP in Nellore and YSR Congress candidate Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy is up against Adala Prabhakara Reddy of the Telugu Desam Party.

In the assembly polls for the Seemandhra region, chief ministerial hopeful and TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu is contesting from Kuppam.

Another chief ministerial aspirant and YSR Congress president Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy is fighting his first assembly election from family stronghold Pulivendula constituency.

Seven Lok Sabha constituencies of north Bihar go to the polls.

Rabri Devi, a former chief minister and wife of Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad, is pitted against BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy.

Other key leaders in the fray are Prabhunath Singh, Akhilesh Prasad Singh, Salim Perwez, Sahid Ali Khan, Lovely Anand and Rama Devi.

The Himachal Pradesh elections would be a litmus test for the Congress government.

The leading candidates include Shanta Kumar of the BJP (Kangra), Congress’ Pratibha Singh (Mandi) and 2009 winners Anurag Singh Thakur (Hamirpur) and Virender Kashyap (Shimla), both of the BJP.

In Jammu and Kashmir, polling will take place in the mountainous region of Ladakh, the largest Lok Sabha constituency in the country, and Baramulla in northern Kashmir.

Outgoing MP Sharief Ud-Din Shariq of the National Conference is pitted against Ghulam Mohammad Mir (BJP) and Muzaffar Hussain Baig of the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party in Baramulla.

In Ladakh, Thupstan Chhewang of the BJP is fighting it out against Tsering Samphel of the Congress. Independents Syed Mohd Kazim and Ghulam Raza are also in the fray.
The hill state of Uttarakhand will see BJP former union minister Maj. Gen. (retd) Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri pitted against Harak Singh Rawat of the Congress in Garhwal.

Congress’ Renuka Rawat takes on Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank of the BJP in Haridwar.

In West Bengal, outgoing MP from Jhargram Pulin Bihari Baske of the CPI-M is pitted against Uma Saren of the Trinamool Congress.

CPI-M’s Basudeb Acharia, the 2009 winner, is pitted against Trinamool candidate and former bollywood actress Moon Moon Sen, daughter of veteran actress late Suchitra Sen.