Over 12.79 crore voters will exercise their franchise in 71 constituencies spread over nine states across India as the stage is set for the fourth phase of 2019 Lok Sabha elections on Monday, i.e. April 29, 2019. The states which are going to polls in round 4 are - Maharashtra (17/48 seats), Rajasthan (13/25 seats), Uttar Pradesh (13/80 seats), West Bengal (8/42 seats), Madhya Pradesh (6/29 seats), Odisha (6/21 seats), Bihar (5/40 seats), Jharkhand (3/14 seats) and Jammu and Kashmir (1/6). Apart from these, the fourth and final phase of Odisha Assembly elections is scheduled to be held in 42 segments on Monday.
The voting will take place between 7 am and 6 pm in most of the constituencies to decide the fate of around 961 candidates in nine states all over the country. The Election Commission has set up 1.40 lakh polling booths/stations and has made elaborate security arrangements.
The stakes are high for the ruling BJP and its allies as it had swept 56 of these seats in 2014, leaving just two for the Congress and the rest for other opposition parties such as the Trinamool Congress (six) and the Biju Janata Dal (six).
In Bihar, five constituencies, which will go to polls are - Darbhanga, Ujiarpur, Samastipur, Begusarai and Munger. Six seats which will witness polling in Madhya Pradesh include - Sidhi, Shahdol, Jabalpur, Mandla, Balaghat and Chhindwara. People in Rajmahal, Dumka and Godda parliamentary constituencies of Jharkhand will also exercise their franchise tomorrow.
Polling will take place in Kulgam district, which is part of Jammu and Kashmir's Anantnag Lok Sabha seat. The constituency is spread over four districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama covering 16 assembly segments. The Lok Sabha polls to Anantnag are being held in three phases keeping in mind the security concerns in the state. Polling in the sensitive Lok Sabha seat will be completed in the fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections on May 6.
In Maharashtra, 17 seats, which will go to polls are - Nandurbar, Dhule, Dindori, Nashik, Palghar, Bhaiwandi, Kalyan, Thane, Mumbai North, Mumbai North-West, Mumbai North-East, Mumbai North-Central, Mumbai South-Central, Mumbai South, Maval, Shiru and Shirdi. Six seats which will witness polling in Odisha are Mayurbhanj, Balashore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Kendrapada and Jagatsinghpur.
13 seats in Rajasthan, namely Tonk-Sawai Madhopur, Ajmer, Pali, Jodhpur, Barmer, Jalore, Udaipur, Banswara, Chittorgarh, Rajsamand, Bhilwara, Kota and Jhalawar-Baran will go to polls on April 29. Polls for 13 seats of Uttar Pradesh will also be held on Monday. The seats are - Shahjahanpur, Kheri, Hardoi, Misrikh, Unnao, Farrukhabad, Etawah, Kannauj, Kanpur, Akbarpur, Jalaun, Jhansi and Hamirpur.
In West Bengal, eight seats - Baharampur, Krishnanagar, Ranaghat, Bardhaman Purba, Bardhaman - Durgapur, Asansol, Bolpur and Birbhum will be going to polls in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections on Monday.
Though the number of seats is far less than the constituencies that went on polls in the first three phases, the fourth phase is crucial as it will witness polling in several key constituencies, including Madhya Pradesh's Chhindwara, Sidhi, Jabalpur, Maharashtra's Mumbai North, Mumbai South, Mumbai North Central, Uttar Pradesh's Unnao and Kannauj, West Bengal's Asansol, Rajasthan's Jhalawar-Baran, Jodhpur and Barmer among others. While Maharashtra will witness the last and final phase of polling in the state, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan will vote for the first time this Lok Sabha elections.
While Kamal Nath's son Nakul is contesting his maiden election from Chhindwara, Ajay Singh - the son of Congress stalwart and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Arjun Singh will be fighting from Sidhi. BJP state unit chief Rakesh Singh is seeking re-elections from the Jabalpur Lok Sabha seats.
In Maharashtra, actress Urmila Matondkar is in the fray along with Poonam Mahajan and Priya Dutt - daughters of two late national stalwarts - Pramod Mahajan of BJP and Sunil Dutt of Congress.
Talking about other high-profile electoral battles, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav's wife Dimple Yadav is contesting from Uttar Pradesh's Kannauj while singer and sitting BJP MP Babul Supriyo is in the fray from West Bengal's Asansol parliamentary constituency. Supriyo is pitted against Trinamool Congress leader and veteran actress Moon Moon Sen.
In Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's son Vaibhav is all set to make his political debut against sitting MP and Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.
Other key contestants who will fight in the fourth phase of crucial General Elections 2019 on Monday include - Milind Deora, Sanjay Nirupam, Parth Pawar, Gajanan Kirtikar, Dushyant Singh, Manvendra Singh, Salman Khurshid, Ram Shankar Katheria, Baijayant Panda, Giriraj Singh, Sakshi Maharaj, Upendra Kushwaha, Kanhaiya Kumar, SS Ahluwalia and Sriprakash Jaiswal.
In the first three phases, voting has been held in 302 Lok Sabha constituencies, and 168 more seats will go to polls in the last three phases. West Bengal topped the list in terms of voter turnout with average 80 per cent of polling in each phase while Bihar recorded between 50-60 per cent turnout, the lowest among the states and Union Territories (UT) which went to polls on April 11, 18 and 23.
Poll-related violence saw deaths in several states, complaints poured in about missing voter names and glitches in electronic voting machines in some areas, while Maist-affected regions of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh saw IED blasts and clashes with security forces, though officials maintained the polling was largely peaceful with moderate-to-large voter turnout.
The seven phase Lok Sabha elections in 543 parliamentary constituencies is scheduled to be held on April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19. The counting of votes for all phases will be taken up on May 23.