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LIVE: Voting begins for 7th phase of Lok Sabha polls, Narendra Modi casts his vote in Ahmedabad!

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modiNew Delhi, April 30 – Voting began in the 7th phase of Lok Sabha polls 2014 in 89 constituencies spread across seven states and two union territories. BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi are among the high-profile candidates in the fray today.

Voting begins in Gujarat:

Lok Sabha polls in all 26 seats of Gujarat and by-polls for seven state assembly seats began on Wednesday, officials said.A total of 334 candidates are in the fray for the Lok Sabha.

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Balloting is taking place at 45,380 polling stations where over 234,000 polling personnel have been deployed. More than 40 million people are eligible to vote in all 26 constituencies where voting is being held in a single phase.

PUNJAB

Voting began in Punjab on Wednesday for all its 13 Lok Sabha seats that went to the polls in a single phase, officials said.ele

Prominent candidates are Akali Dal’s Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Arun Jaitley, Congress’s Amarinder Singh, and three-time BJP MP, actor Vinod Khanna. As many as 253 candidates are in the fray.

People queued up at polling stations even before 7 a.m. A total of 234,011 poll officials have been deployed. The Election Commission is expecting a voter turnout of 80 percent this time. In the 2009 election, Punjab had recorded over 70 percent polling.

Over 75,000 police and paramilitary personnel have been stationed across the state to ensure peaceful polling, said Director General of Police Suresh Arora. Punjab has 13,582 polling stations and 22,060 polling booths. Out of these, 2,442 polling stations have been declared hyper-sensitive and 4,632 sensitive, Arora said.

UTTAR PRADESH

Ever since the Ram Temple movement, BJP has never lost the Lucknow seat. People of the city had elected Vajpayee for five-times on the trot from 1991 to 2004.Rajnath, a sitting MP from Ghaziabad, is facing challenge from former UP Congress state president and sitting MLA Rita Bahuguna Joshi.

Joshi contested the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, but lost to Lalji Tandon of BJP by a margin of 37,000 votes. Minister of State in Akhilesh Yadav government Abhishek Mishra and minister in previous BSP government Nakul Dubey are also in the fray. In Kanpur, Union Coal Minister Sriprakash is facing stiff competition from former BJP national president Murli Manohar Joshi, who has been shifted from holy city to the industrial city after Narendra Modi decided to contest from Varanasi.

Election in Bundelkhand has heated up with the entry of former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and sitting BJP MLA from Charkhari Uma Bharti.
Bharti is pitted against Union Minister of State for Rural Development Pradeep Jain Aditya, who would be trying to retain his seat.

Bharti, who is banking largely on a Modi wave, is promising to create a separate Bundelkhand state within three years of being voted to power. In Barabanki, Chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Castes P L Punia is banking on the development works done by him in the area.

Union Minister of State for Human Resource Jitin Prasada is facing contest from former MP Dawood Ahmad of BSP in Dhaurahra seat. This phase is specially important for Congress as out of 22 seats won by the party in 2009 polls, six were from this phase. SP has 4, BSP has three and BJP has only one seat from these 14 seats in 2009.

elecWEST BENGAL

Polling in nine parliamentary constituencies began peacefully in West Bengal in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections in the state today.

The seats where polling is on are Howrah, Hooghly, Serampore, Bolpur, Arambagh, Burdwan East, Burdwan-Durgapur, Birbhum and Uluberia.

The prominent candidates in the fray today are BJP’s Bappi Lahiri in Serampore, journalist-turned-politician Chandan Mitra in Hooghly and actor George Baker in Howrah, who carry the party’s hopes to score big for the first time in the state.

Among Trinamool Congress candidates are sitting MPs Satabdi Roy from Birbhum, Kalyan Banerjee from Serampore and Sultan Ahmed from Uluberia besides Prasun Banerjee from Howrah, a former India soccer player.

For the CPI-M, it will be a fight to hold on to four seats – Bolpur, Burdwan East, Burdwan-Durgapur and Arambagh among the nine which it had won the last time.

Congress candidate Abdul Mannan is also in the fray in Serampore. There are also 13 women contestants in the election in which 1,39,43,063 voters will exercise their franchise.

BIHARsoni

Polling began in seven parliamentary constituencies in the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Bihar amidst tight security today to decide the fate of 94 candidates.

The prominent candidates in the fray are JD(U) President Sharad Yadav from Madhepura, who is being challenged by RJD’s Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, former central minister and BJP leader Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav from Madhubani and cricketer-turned-BJP leader Kirti Azad from Darbhanga who will contest against former Union minister and RJD leader M A A Fatmi.

Elections are also being held in Jhanjharpur, Samastipur (SC), Begusarai and Khagaria seats today and all the constituencies are in the Kosi river belt. Five women are also in the fray. An electorate of 1.12 crore voters will exercise their franchise in 10,521 polling stations.

Altogether 59,000 personnel belonging to 145 companies of central paramilitary forces BSF, CRPF and state police, including Bihar Military Police and homeguards and two helicopters have been deployed to ensure free and fair polls, official sources said. The helicopters would be used for aerial surveillance, the sources said.

Polling would end at 4 pm in the three assembly segments of Mahisi in Madhepura and Simri Bhakhtiyarpur and Aluali in Khagaria seat as the areas are Maoist-affected.

Bypoll is also being held in Sahebpur Kamal Assembly seat in Begusarai district. It is necessitated following former minister Parveen Amanullah’s resignation from the Nitish Kumar cabinet to move to AAP.

J&K

Balloting for the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat in Jammu and Kashmir began on Wednesday, officials said. As many as 14 candidates are in the fray, including Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference.

Over 1.23 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise at 1,546 polling booths. Around 50 companies of central armed forces and over 10,000 police personnel have been deployed.
DAMAN AND DIU

Voting for the lone parliamentary constituency of Daman and Diu began on Wednesday, officials said.Just four candidates are in the fray. Balloting is taking place at 119 polling stations. As many as 102,260 electors are eligible to exercise their franchise in the union territory.
eleeeDADRA AND NAGAR HAVELI

Balloting for the lone Lok Sabha seat of Dadra and Nagar Haveli began on Wednesday, officials said. As many as 11 candidates are in the fray. A total of 188,783 people are eligible to vote at 163 polling booths across the union territory.

Andhra Pradesh votes for Lok Sabha, assembly

Simultaneous balloting began Wednesday in Andhra Pradesh for 17 Lok Sabha seats and 119 state assembly seats in Telangana region, officials said.

The key contestants for the Lok Sabha are union Ministers S. Jaipal Reddy, Sarve Satyanarayana and Balram Naik, Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao, Lok Satta Party chief Jayaprakash Narayan and Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi.

Telangana will formally become a state June 2.

The main contenders for the assembly seats include Chandrasekhara Rao, Congress’s Telangana unit president Ponnala Lakshmaiah, working president Uttam Kumar Reddy, former deputy chief minister Damodar Rajanarasimha, and former state ministers Geeta Reddy and D. Sridhar Babu.

Balloting is taking place at 30,574 polling booths. As many as 265 candidates are in the fray for the Lok Sabha and 1,669 for the assembly seats. More than 28.17 million electors are eligible to exercise their franchise.

-INDIA TODAY