Stage set for first phase of Lok Sabha polls in 102 seats

NEW DELHI, 18 Apr: The 2024 Lok Sabha polls will kick off Friday with polling for the first phase scheduled in 102 seats spread across 21 states and union territories and among those in the fray are union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Sarbananda Sonowal and Bhupendra Yadav, Gaurav Gogoi of Congress, DMK’s Kanimozhi and K. Annamalai of BJP.

Simultaneously, assembly elections in Arunachal Pradesh (60 seats) and Sikkim (32 seats) will also be held.

Voting will begin at 7 AM and end at 6 PM. The Election Commission has deployed over 18 lakh polling personnel across 1.87 lakh polling stations where over 16.63 crore voters will exercise their franchise.

Voters include 8.4 crore men, 8.23 crore women and 11,371 from third gender. There are as many as 35.67 lakh first time voters, besides 3.51 crore young voters in the age group of 20-29 years.

While the BJP-led NDA under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a stronger majority, the constituents

of the opposition INDIA bloc are hoping for a rebound after facing reverses in the 2014 and 2019 elections.

Polling will be held in all seats of Tamil Nadu (39), Uttarakhand (5), Arunachal Pradesh (2), Meghalaya (2), Andaman and Nicobar Islands (1), Mizoram (1), Nagaland (1), Puducherry (1), Sikkim (1) and Lakshadweep (1).

Besides, there will be voting in 12 seats in Rajasthan, 8 in Uttar Pradesh, 6 in Madhya Pradesh, 5 seats each in Assam and Maharashtra, 4 in Bihar, 3 in West Bengal, 2 seats in Manipur, and one seat each in Tripura, Jammu and Kashmir and Chhattisgarh.

Campaigning for the first phase ended Wednesday evening.

Besides Gadkari, Sonowal and Yadav, six other union ministers – Kiren Rijiju, Sanjeev Baliyan, Jitendra Singh, Arjun Ram Meghwal, L. Murugan and Nisith Pramanik are among the contestants besides two former chief ministers – Biplab Kumar Deb (Tripura) and Nabam Tuki (Arunachal Pradesh) and former Telangana governor Tamilisai Soundararajan.

In 2019, the UPA had won 45 of these 102 seats and the NDA 41. Six of these seats have been redrawn as part of the delimitation exercise. (PTI)