Voting begins in 102 seats in first phase of Lok Sabha elections

Voting for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections 2024 began on Friday across 102 parliamentary constituencies spread over 21 states and Union Territories as the mega seven-phase electoral exercise commenced at 7:00 am.

Voting begins in 102 seats in first phase of Lok Sabha elections

Uttarakhand chief electoral office, BVRC Purushottam cast vote in Dehradun, (photo, ANI)

Voting for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections 2024 began on Friday across 102 parliamentary constituencies spread over 21 states and Union Territories as the mega seven-phase electoral exercise commenced at 7:00 am.
Voters will exercise their franchise until 6:00 pm.
Polling for assembly elections in the north-eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim also started along with voting for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections on Friday morning.

Arunachal will be polling for two Lok Sabha seats and the 60-member Assembly. Apart from Arunachal, Sikkim will vote for 32 assembly seats and a lone Lok Sabha seat.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking his third consecutive term, while the opposition bloc-INDIA- a coalition of opposing parties formed to take on the BJP in the general elections, is eyeing ousting him from power.

The 2024 elections are taking place at a time when opposition leaders, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, have been arrested on charges of corruption in the liquor policy case.


The opposition has alleged that they have been denied a level playing field, a charge denied by the ruling BJP. The Congress party also alleged that income tax authorities froze their accounts weeks before the elections and blamed the ruling party at the Centre.
A total of 16.63 crore voters are going to vote in the first phase of Lok Sabha polls, deciding the fate of 1625 candidates, with Nitin Gadkari, Kiren Rijiju, Bhupendra Yadav, and Arjun Ram Meghwal among several Union ministers in the fray.
According to the data released by the Election Commission of India (ECI), a total of 1.87 lakh polling stations have been set up, while 18 lakh personnel have been deployed across the 102 constituencies going to the polls.

The first phase, with the highest number of parliamentary constituencies among all seven phases, will witness polling in 21 states and Union Territories.
An estimated 8.4 crore male voters, 8.23 crore female voters, and 11,371 third-gender electors are eligible to vote in the first phase of Lok Sabha polls, according to the ECI data. Key issues ranging from unemployment, violence against women, long-pending grievances of farmers, paper leaks, land rights issues of tribal people, and a rise in prices are among the most debated across the country.

A recent pre-poll survey by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) revealed that the foremost concerns for voters in India are price rises and unemployment. The plight of tea garden workers will have a say in Assam as estate workers demand better facilities and wages.

Reportedly, health and education are also among the major demands raised by the estate workers. Assam will be voting in five Lok Sabha seats in the first phase out of the 14 constituencies. Inflation, farmers’ issues, crimes against women, and paper leaks were among the most discussed in states including Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh, among others.

The pending full statehood took centre stage in the Union Territory of Puducherry.
Tamil Nadu has demanded the proposed AIIMS, an exception from the NEET examination, and flood relief while awaiting the final verdict at the people’s court.
Manipur, which has seen violence and ethnic divide for almost a year, is also voting today, with ECI making special arrangements for internally displaced voters. Ahead of polling, women perform puja outside polling booth number 16 in Imphal.

Manipur will hold two phases of elections for its parliamentary constituencies. The Inner Manipur constituency will go to the polls on April 19, while voting in the Outer Manipur constituency will be held for two days on April 19 and April 26.
Nine special polling stations have been set up for the internally displaced people near a relief camp in Imphal East.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has nominated Thounaojam Basanta Kumar Singh as its candidate for the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha seat, while the Indian National Congress has fielded Angomcha Bimol Akoijam.

Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep, and Puducherry will be voting in the first phase.
The north-eastern state of Nagaland faces numerous social and political challenges, including unemployment and inadequate healthcare facilities, as it prepares to vote for its sole seat.

Improved tourism management, long-pending demands of sugarcane farmers, and enhanced environmental protection policies are among some of the key demands from Uttarakhand.
Uttarakhand will be voting in five Lok Sabha seats. The economic woes of tea garden workers and Sandeshkhali are determining factors in West Bengal’s three-seat poll in the first phase.

Key candidates and constituencies in Phase 1 Lok Sabha polls:
In Uttar Pradesh, voting will take place in eight out of total 80 parliamentary constituencies on Friday.
1. Pilibhit: Jitin Prasada (BJP) faces Bhagwant Saran Gangwar (SP) and Anis Ahmed Khan (BSP).
2. Saharanpur: Raghav Lakhanpal (BJP) is pitted against Majid Ali (BSP) and Imran Masood (Congress).
3. Kairana: Pradeep Kumar (BJP) faces Sripal Singh (BSP) and Iqra Hasan (SP).
4. Muzaffarnagar: Sanjeev Balyan (BJP) is contesting against Harindra Malik (SP) and Dara Singh Prajapati (BSP).
5. Rampur: Ghanshyam Lodhi (BJP) faces Zeeshan Khan (BSP).
6. Moradabad: Sarvesh Singh (BJP) versus Mohd. Irfan Saifi (BSP)
7. Bijnor: Chandan Chauhan (RLD) is contesting against Vijendra Singh (BSP) and Yashvir Singh (SP).
8. Nagina: Om Kumar (BJP) faces Surendra Pal Singh (BSP), Manoj Kumar (SP) and Chandra Shekhar Azad (Azad Samaj Party).
Maharashtra has 48 Lok Sabha seats and voting will take place in five constituencies tomorrow. The seats include:

1. Nagpur: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari (BJP) is pitted against Congress leader Vikas Thakare, the sitting MLA from Nagpur West.
2. Chandrapur: Sudhir Mungantiwar (BJP) is contesting against Pratibha Dhanorkar (Congress)
3. Bhandara-Gondia: Sitting MP Sunil Mendhe (BJP) faces Dr Prashant Patole (Congress)
4. Gadchiroli-Chimur: Ashok Nete (BJP) is facing Namdev Kirsan( Congress) and Hitesh Pandurang Madavi (VBA).
West Bengal has 42 Lok Sabha constituencies and voting will take place in three seats today.
1. Cooch Behar: Incumbent MP Nishith Pramanik (BJP) is pitted against Jagadish Chandra Burma Basunia (TMC) and Pia Roy Chowdhury (Congress)
2. Alipurduars: Manoj Tigga (BJP) is in the fray against Prakash Chik Baraik (TMC).
3. Jalapiguri: Jayanta Kumar Roy, the incumbent MP (BJP), is contesting against Nirmal Chandra Roy (TMC) and Debraj Barman (CPI-M)
All 39 seats of Tamil Nadu and one seat of Puducherry will go to the polls today. Some of the key seats include:
1. Coimbatore: State BJP chief K Annamalai is in fray against Ganapathy P Rajkumar (DMK) and Singai Ramachandran (AIADMK).
2. Thoothukudi: Kanimozhi (DMK) is contesting against R Sivasami Velumani (AIADMK)
3. Chennai South: BJP has fielded former Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan. She is facing DMK leader and incumbent MP Thamizhachi Thangapandian. AIADMK has fielded Jayavardhan.
4. Krishnagiri: Vidhya Rani, the daughter of slain sandalwood smuggler Veerappan, is contesting from Krishnagiri constituency. She has been fielded by Naam Tamilar Katchi and will face C Narasimhan (BJP) and K Gopinath (Congress).
5. Chennai Central: Dayanidhi Maran (DMK) is facing Vinoj P Selvam (BJP) and B Parthasarathy (DMDK)
6. Nilgiris: A Raja (DMK) is contesting against Union Minister and BJP leader L Murugan. AIADMK has given a ticket to Lokesh Tamilselvan.
7. Sivaganga: Devanathan Yadav (BJP) is in the fray against Congress sitting MP Karti Chidambaram and A Xavier (AIADMK).
In Assam, five of 14 Lok Sabha seats will go to poll in the first phase.
1. Dibrugarh: Sarbananda Sonowal (BJP) is contesting against Lurinjyoti Gogoi (INDIA bloc).
2. Jorhat: Topon Kumar Gogoi (BJP) is pitted against Gaurav Gogoi (Congress)
3. Kaziranga: BJP has fielded Kamakhya Prasad Tasa is contesting against Congress’ Roselina Tirkey
4. Lakhimpur: Pradan Baruah (BJP) is contesting against Uday Shankar Hazarika (Congress)
5. Sonitpur: BJP’s Ranjit Dutta is in the fray against Premlal Ganju.
In Bihar, four of 40 Lok Sabha constituencies will see polling today.
1. Aurangabad: Sushil Kumar Singh (BJP) is facing Abhay Kushwaha (RJD)
2. Gaya: Kumar Sarvjeet (RJD) is facing Jitan Ram Manjhi (HAM)
3. Jamui: Archana Kumari (RJD) is contesting against Arun Bharti (LJP-Ram Vilas)
4. Nawada: Shrawan Kumar (RJD) is pitted against Vivek Thakur (BJP)
In Madhya Pradesh, six of the state’s 29 Lok Sabha seats will go the poll today.
1. Chhindwara: Incumbent MP Nakul Nath (Congress) is pitted against Vivek Bunty Sahu (BJP).
2. Balaghat: Bharti Pardhi (BJP) is facing Samrat Saraswat (Congress)
3. Jabalpur: Ashish Dubey (BJP) is pitted against Dinesh Yadav (Congress).
4. Mandla: Faggan Singh Kulaste (BJP) is contesting against Omkar Singh Markam (Congress)
5. Shahdol: Sitting MP Himadri Singh (BJP) is in the fray against Phunde Lal Singh Marko (Congress)
6. Sidhi: Rajesh Mishra (BJP) is pitted against Kamaleshwar Patel (Congress)
In Uttarakhand, all five Lok Sabha seats will go for polls in the first phase.
1. Haridwar: Former chief minister Harish Rawat’s son, Virendra Rawat (Congress), is facing Trivendra Singh Rawat (BJP)
2. Pauri Garhwal: State Congress chief Ganesh Godiyal is contesting against Anil Baluni (BJP)
3. Tehri Garhwal:Sitting MP Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah is in the fray against Jot Singh Gunsola (Congress)
4. Nainital-Udham Singh Nagar: Sitting MP Ajay Bhatt (BJP) is taking on Congress candidate Prakash Joshi.
5. Almora: Sitting MP Ajay Tamta is contesting against Pradeep Tamta (Congress)
Voters in 12 out of the 25 constituencies of Rajasthan will vote in the first phase. Key constituencies include:
1. Bikaner: Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal (BJP) is in the fray against Madan Gopal Meghwal (Congress)
2. Churu: Paralympian Devendra Jhajharia (BJP) is contesting against Rahul Kaswan (Congress)
3. Nagaur: Jyoti Mirdha (BJP) against Hanuman Beniwal of Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP)
4. Sikar: Swami Sumedhanand (BJP) against Amra Ram of CPI(M)
5. Jhunjhunu: Shubhkaran Choudhary (BJP) against Brijendra Singh Ola (Congress)
Similarly, in Andaman and Nicobar Islands constituency, incumbent MP Kuldeep Rai Sharma (Congress) is facing Bishnu Pada Ray (BJP).
Arunachal Pradesh’s two constituencies will go to the polls in the first phase on Friday. Arunachal Pradesh West: Nabam Tuki (Congress) is facing Kiren Rijiju (BJP)Arunachal Pradesh East: Bosiram Siram (Congress) is in fray against Tapir Gao (BJP).
In Chhattisgarh, which has 11 Lok Sabha seats, voting will take place in the first phase in the Naxal-affected seat of Bastar where Kawasi Lakhma of the Congres is pitted against Mahesh Kashyap (BJP).
Elections will take place twice in one constituency in Manipur. Voters in Outer Manipur will cast their votes over two days due to the special situation owing to ethnic violence witnessed by the state, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said in a press conference on March 16.

While voting will take place in Inner Manipur constituency on April 19 (phase 1), outer Manipur will vote on two dates – April 19 (phase 1) and April 26 (phase 2).
Of the two Lok Sabha seats in Tripura, the constituency of Tripura (West), which includes the state capital of Agartala, will go the polls today.BJP nominee and former Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb is contesting against state Congress chief Ashish Kumar Saha.
To ensure ‘peace and purity’ in the biggest festival of democracy, the Election Commission has adequately deployed central forces at polling stations to secure the polling process.
As per an ECI release, webcasting will be done in more than 50 per cent of the polling stations, along with the deployment of microobservers in all polling stations.A total of 4627 flying squads, 5208 statistics surveillance teams, 2028 video surveillance teams and 1255 video viewing teams are keeping surveillance round the clock to strictly and swiftly deal with any form of inducement of voters, the release mentioned.

It further stated that a total of 1374 inter-state and 162 international border check posts are keeping a strict vigil on any illicit flow of liquor, drugs, cash and freebies. Also, strict surveillance has been kept on sea and air routes.The ECI has also warned the voters to guard against misinformation and fake news from influencing them or dissuading them from participating in these elections, especially against false narratives being peddled on social media.

In 2019, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) won 45 of the 102 seats that will go to the polls on Friday in the first phase, while the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won 42 seats.

The second phase will be held on April 26 and the remaining phases will be May 7, May 13, May 20, May 25 and June 1 accordingly.
The last general elections in 2019 were also held in seven phases.
The poll schedule was announced by the Election Commission of India on March 16. Bye-elections to 26 assembly constituencies will also be held alongside the Lok Sabha and four state assembly polls.