The battleground is set for the second phase of 2019 Lok Sabha elections with 95 parliamentary constituencies across 11 states and the union territory of Puducherry going to polls on Wednesday, April 18, 2019. Hema Malini, Raj Babbar, Farooq Abdullah, Ashok Chavan, Sushilkumar Shinde, Prakash Ambedkar, DV Sadananda Gowda, Tejaswi Surya, BK Hariprasad, HD Deve Gowda, Jitendra Singh and Kanimozhi are among the 1,600-odd contestants who will fight in the second phase of crucial General Elections 2019 today.
Thirty eight of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu will go to polls besides 18 assembly constituencies in the state. Polling in Vellore Lok Sabha seat, which is currently represented by the AIADMK, was cancelled on Tuesday by the Election Commission following recovery of huge amount of cash allegedly from an associate of a DMK leader recently.
The poll panel also decided to postpone polling in Tripura (East) Lok Sabha seat to the third phase on April 23, saying the prevailing law-and-order situation there is not conducive for holding free and fair polls.
Besides Tamil Nadu, polling will be held in 14 seats in Karnataka, 10 in Maharashtra, eight in Uttar Pradesh, five each in Assam, Bihar and Odisha, three each in Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, two in Jammu and Kashmir and one seat each in Manipur and Puducherry. Elections will also be held in 35 assembly constituencies in Odisha. Despite heavy security, one woman polling official, while leading a team of poll personnel to a booth in Phulbani assembly segment, was shot dead by Maoists in Kandhamal district of the state this evening.
In Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK, contesting as part of the NDA. The alliance comprises among others BJP, PMK, DMDK and Tamil Maanila Congress of former union minister G K Vasan. The DMK has formed a "Secular Progressive Alliance" comprising the Congress and Left parties, among others.
The electoral battle in the state is largely among the two fronts led by the Dravidian majors and the AMMK led by TTV Dhinakaran, an AIADMK rival, though parties such as the fledgling Makkal Needhi Maiam of actor-politician Kamal Hassan are also testing their fortunes.
Lok Sabha elections in Kranataka is crucial for the ruling Congress-JD(S) alliance as any adverse result is likely to have an impact on the longevity of the coalition government in the state.
Thursday's polling in Jammu and Kashmir's Srinagar will be keenly watched within and outside Kashmir as the constituency recorded an all-time low of 7.2 per cent voter turn out in the 2017 bye-election, marred by violence on polling day that left nine people dead and scores of others injured.
Uttar Pradesh has witnessed high-octane political drama in the last few days with several political leaders like Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Union minister Maneka Gandhi and SP leader Azam Khan made controversial remarks, prompting the Election Commission to bar them from campaigning over violations of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).
In West Bengal, the EC has deployed 194 companies of central forces in the three constituencies going to polls to cover 80 per cent of the 5,390 booths for free and fair polling.
The fight for the lone Lok Sabha seat in Puducherry is expected to be mainly between the ruling Congress, which has put up former Speaker V Vaithilingam and the opposition AINRC's K Narayanasamy. While five seats in Assam will witness polling on Thursday, one seat will go to polls in Manipur.
Nearly 15.8 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the second phase of Lok Sabha polls. 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.
(With inputs from agencies)