Elections 2024: 21 states, UTs set for polling in phase one; 102 LS seats in fray

The general elections will be held in seven phases, from April 19 to June 1, to elect the 543 members of the 18th Lok Sabha. The results will be announced on June 4.
Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and other election material being distributed from Nandanam Arts college to the respective polling booths on the eve of the first phase of Lok Sabha elections, in Chennai, Thursday, April 18, 2024.
Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and other election material being distributed from Nandanam Arts college to the respective polling booths on the eve of the first phase of Lok Sabha elections, in Chennai, Thursday, April 18, 2024.Photo | PTI

The first phase of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections will see 102 constituencies across 21 states and union territories go to polls on Friday. The first phase of polling will take place across all 39 seats in Tamil Nadu, all five seats in Uttarakhand, both seats in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Meghalaya, and the sole seat in Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim, respectively.

Polling will also take place for 12 out of 25 seats in Rajasthan, eight out of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, six out of 29 seats in Madhya Pradesh, five out of 48 seats in Maharashtra, five out of 14 seats in Assam, and four out of 40 seats in Bihar.

Additionally, three out of 42 seats in West Bengal, one out of 11 seats in Chhattisgarh, and one out of two seats in Tripura will be contested.

In the union territories, one out of five seats in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as the sole seats in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, and Puducherry, will be up for grabs.

Voting for the 543 Lok Sabha seats will take place across seven phases from April 19 to June 1, with the counting of votes slated for June 4.

Separately, voting will also be held for 92 assembly seats in the state elections in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim on Friday.

Of the 102 Lok Sabha seats, the BJP had won 39 in 2019, with the ruling alliance NDA bagging 12, five and three of them in Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and West Bengal, respectively. The BJP's existing allies hold seven of them.

And in Tamil Nadu, the DMK-led alliance had swept 38 of the 39 seats in 2019 general elections.

Amongst the prominent leaders trying their electoral luck in phase one are Union ministers Nitin Gadkari from Nagpur, Kiren Rijiju from Arunachal Pradesh (West), Arjun Ram Meghwal from Bikaner, Sarbanada Sonowal from Dibrugarh in Assam, Sanjeev Baliyan from Muzaffarnagar in western UP, Jitendra Singh from Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir and Bhupendra Yadav from Alwar in Rajasthan.

Tamilisai Soundararajan, who recently resigned as governor of Telangana and Lt Governor of Puducherry to return to active politics, is contesting from Chennai South Lok Sabha constituency.

Nakul Nath, son of Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath, is seeking reelection from Chhindwara.

Photo | PTI

Will the BJP's lotus bloom in Tamil Nadu?

Tamil Nadu is gearing up for polls amid fierce campaigning and an intense three-way political battle between the alliances led by state heavyweights—the DMK and the AIADMK—and the BJP, respectively.

With elections for 39 Lok Sabha seats looming, approximately 6.23 crore voters are poised to cast their ballots across nearly 68,000 polling stations.

The BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has made unprecedented efforts to gain ground in the Dravidian stronghold. Modi's exhaustive campaign across Tamil Nadu, including rallies in Chennai, Coimbatore, Vellore, and Tirunelveli, underscores the BJP's determination to break its electoral jinx in the state.

From raking up alleged corruption and 'parivarvad' politics of the DMK-Congress alliance to the Katchatheevu issue, Modi left no stone unturned in his nine visit to the state

Coimbatore, the hub of western Tamil Nadu, is the most keenly watched constituency in the state and the BJP's K Annamalai is slogging to emerge victorious, battling against Dravidian giants the DMK and AIADMK.

Meanwhile, the DMK, led by Chief Minister Stalin, has campaigned on platforms of social justice and welfare measures, portraying the elections as a battle against the BJP's divisive politics. Throughout the campaign, Stalin has repeatedly emphasised the importance of these elections, likening them to a second independence movement aimed at freeing the nation from the BJP's influence.

In contrast, the AIADMK, under the leadership of Edappadi K Palaniswami, has staunchly defended its record in governance and taken a strong stance against the DMK's campaign. Palaniswami has vigorously addressed various issues, including law and order, and has accused the BJP of discrimination based on caste and religion. Despite facing challenges from both the DMK and BJP, the AIADMK remains confident in its ability to weather the storm, with Palaniswami asserting that the party will emerge victorious with the support of the electorate.

UP: Eight seats up for grabs in India's largest state

The first phase of the seven-phase parliamentary election in western Uttar Pradesh sees voters in eight Lok Sabha constituencies exercising their constitutional right. These constituencies, falling in the Jat and sugarcane belt, include Saharanpur, Bijnor, Kairana, Muzaffarnagar, Nagina, Moradabad, Rampur, and Pilibhit, spread across nine districts.

The contest is three-cornered, primarily between the ruling BJP-led NDA, the Samajwadi Party (SP), and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The BJP has allied with the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), while the SP has partnered with INDIA bloc ally Congress. The BSP, however, decided to go solo.

Key issues for voters include employment, education, and development.

A total of 80 candidates, including seven women, are in the fray. The eligible voter count stands at 1.43 crore, with a significant Muslim voter presence ranging from 35 to 50 percent.

Notable candidates include Jitin Prasada from Pilibhit, who got the ticket over sitting BJP MP Varun Gandhi, Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan from Muzaffarnagar, and Azad Samaj Party chief Chandra Shekhar Azad from Nagina.

In the previous 2019 polls, the BJP secured victories in Muzaffarnagar, Kairana, and Pilibhit, the BSP won in Saharanpur, Nagina and Bijnor, while the SP won in Moradabad and Rampur, the stronghold of its jailed leader Azam Khan. However, the party later lost Rampur to BJP in a bypoll.

Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and other election material being distributed from Nandanam Arts college to the respective polling booths on the eve of the first phase of Lok Sabha elections, in Chennai, Thursday, April 18, 2024.
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Maharashtra: Polls in 5 LS seats; Gadkari among 97 nominees in fray

More than 95 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise on Friday in the first phase of Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra, covering five of the 48 constituencies, where 97 candidates, including Union Minister Nitin Gadkari of the BJP, are in fray.

Polling will be held in the constituencies of Nagpur, Ramtek (SC), Bhandara-Gondia, Chandrapur and Naxal-hit Gadchiroli-Chimur (ST), all located in the easternmost parts of the state.

There are 95,54,667 voters in the five Lok Sabha constituencies in the Vidarbha region where voting will take place on Friday. Of these, 48,28,142 are male, 47,26,178 are female and 347 are transgender voters, according to a statement from the state electoral office.

In Nagpur, which houses the RSS headquarters, a direct fight is on cards between Gadkari, who is seeking a third term, and Congress candidate Vikas Thakre.

Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and other election material being distributed from Nandanam Arts college to the respective polling booths on the eve of the first phase of Lok Sabha elections, in Chennai, Thursday, April 18, 2024.
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In Chandrapur, BJP candidate and Maharashtra minister Sudhir Mungantiwar is facing Congress nominee Pratibha Dhanorkar, wife of late parliamentarian Suresh Dhanorkar, who was the lone MP from the grand old party to be elected from Maharashtra in 2019 from the seat.

In Bhandara-Gondia, the BJP has fielded sitting MP Sunil Mendhe, who is pitted against Congress candidate Dr Prashant Patole.

Two-time Lok Sabha MP of BJP, Ashok Nete, is contesting against Congress nominee Dr Namdev Kirsan in Gadchiroli-Chimur (ST), where some areas are affected Naxal insurgency. In the 2019 elections, Nete had defeated Congress candidate Dr Namdev Usendi.

In Ramtek (SC), the fight is between Shyamkumar Barwe of the Congress and Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena's candidate Raju Parwe.

Maharashtra, which has 48 Lok Sabha seats, the second highest after Uttar Pradesh, will vote in five phases between April 19 and May 20.

Rajasthan: 12 seats in fray; will BJP's dominance continue?

In the first phase of Lok Sabha elections in Rajasthan, 12 out of 25 seats will be contested. Polling will be held in Churu, Nagaurm, Ganganagar, Jhunjhunu, Bikaner, Sikar, Jaipur Rural, Jaipur, Alwar, Bharatpur, Karauli-Dholpur and Dausa.

According to chief electoral officer Praveen Gupta, a total of 2.54 crore voters are set to vote in the first phase on Friday.

Notably, a Union minister is among the 114 candidates in the fray. Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal is contesting from Bikaner against Congress candidate Govind Ram Meghwal.

The Bharatiya Janata Party won all 25 seats in Rajasthan on its own in 2014, and in 2019, the NDA won 25 seats, the saffron party won 24 seats and the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) won one seat.

Key constituencies include Nagaur, witnessing a contest between the RLP, now in alliance with Congress, and the BJP, and Churu, with former BJP MP Rahul Kaswan contesting as a Congress candidate. In Sikar, the CPI(M) is challenging the BJP's incumbent MP.

The ruling BJP focused its campaign on PM Modi's popularity and its infrastructure work, while the Congress raised issues of central agency misuse and unemployment. Notable campaigners include PM Modi, Amit Shah, and Congress leaders Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi.

The second phase of the elections in Rajasthan will be held on April 26.

In the second phase, polls will be held in 13 Lok Sabha constituencies: Tonk, Ajmer, Pali, Jodhpur, Barmer, Jalore, Udaipur, Banswara, Chittorgarh, Rajsamand, Bhilwara, Kota and Jhalawar.

MP: Six LS seats in action, including Kamal Nath's bastion

Six constituents will be in action during the first phase of the four phases for the Lok Sabha elections in Madhya Pradesh.

The constituencies include Shahdol, Mandla, Jabalpur, Balaghat, Chhindwara, and Sidhi, covering 13 districts and 27 assembly segments.

A total of 88 candidates are in the fray, with Jabalpur having the highest number at 19 and Shahdol the lowest at 10. The total number of registered voters across the six constituencies is 1,13,09,636, with arrangements made for shelter, water, and medical assistance at polling booths due to the hot weather.

In the 2019 elections, the BJP secured 28 out of 29 Lok Sabha seats, while the Congress won only one seat in Chhindwara, held by Nakul Nath, the son of former Chief Minister Kamal Nath.

The second, third and fourth phases of the elections will take place on April 26, May 7 and May 13.

Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and other election material being distributed from Nandanam Arts college to the respective polling booths on the eve of the first phase of Lok Sabha elections, in Chennai, Thursday, April 18, 2024.
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Over 75 lakh voters to decide four seats in Bihar

In Bihar, the stage is set for the first phase more than 75 lakh voters will decide the fate of 38 candidates standing in four constituencies: Nawada, Aurangabad, Gaya and Jamui.

Tight security arrangements are in place at Nawada and Aurangabad, besides reserved seats in Gaya and Jamui, where a majority of nearly 5,000 polling booths have been marked as "sensitive," given these districts' long history of naxal violence.

Nawada, with 20.06 lakh voters, sees a tough battle primarily between the BJP's Vivek Thakur and the RJD's Shravan Kushwaha, with Independent candidate Binod Yadav adding complexity.

Gaya, with 18.18 lakh voters, witnesses 14 candidates, including former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, an NDA ally, and RJD's Kumar Sarvajeet.

Jamui, with 19.07 lakh voters, features a showdown between Arun Bharti from Chirag Paswan's LJP (Ram Vilas) and RJD's Archana Ravidas. The party's president Chirag Paswan, whose sister is married to Bharti, has shifted base to Hajipur after having represented the seat for two consecutive terms.

Aurangabad, with over 18 lakh voters, sees BJP's Sushil Kumar Singh facing RJD's Abhay Kushwaha.

76.01 lakh voters, including 36.38 lakh females and 255 belonging to the third gender, are expected to cast their votes.

Uttarakhand: Can BJP 'three-peat' clean sweep?

Uttarakhand's all five Lok Sabha seats go into polling in phase one, with the BJP aiming to retain the seats for the third time and the Congress looking to regain lost ground in the state.

The five seats going to polls on Friday are Haridwar, Pauri Garhwal, Tehri Garhwal, Nainital-Udham Singh Nagar and the lone reserved seat of Almora. The BJP won all five seats in Uttarakhand in the 2014 and 2019 general elections.

More than 83 lakh voters will decide the fate of 55 candidates in the fray.

Sitting BJP MPs Ajay Bhatt, Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah and Ajay Tamta have been fielded by the party from Nainital-Udham Singh Nagar, Tehri Garhwal and Almora, respectively. The BJP has replaced its candidates in Haridwar and Pauri Garhwal.

Former chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat is contesting in place of Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank from Haridwar and Anil Baluni in place of Tirath Singh Rawat from Pauri Garhwal.

The Congress has fielded former PCC president Ganesh Godiyal from Pauri Garhwal, former chief minister Harish Rawat's son Virendra Rawat from Haridwar, Jot Singh Gunsola from Tehri Garhwal, Prakash Joshi from Nainital-Udham Singh Nagar and Pradeep Tamta from Almora.

Candidates from the Bahujan Samaj Party, Uttarakhand Kranti Dal and relatively smaller outfits and independents are also in the fray, but straight contests are likely between traditional rivals—the BJP and Congress—in all the seats.

Experts say that Haridwar's demography, which has substantial minority and Dalit votes, may also not be a cakewalk for the BJP's Trivendra Rawat, despite his advantage over his rival in terms of experience, as Congress veteran Harish Rawat, who had won the seat in 2009, is leaving no stone unturned to ensure his son's victory from the seat.

"If the Modi factor works again as it did in 2014 and 2019, overriding all other factors, the BJP will obviously reap the benefits but if unemployment, inflation, continued migration from the hills and performance of BJP MPs over the past 10 years outweigh the national issues, the Congress will gain," political analyst Jaisingh Rawat said.

Bengal: Triangular tussle between TMC, BJP and Cong-Left

In the first phase of Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal, all attention is on Coochbehar, Jalpaiguri, and Alipurduars constituencies in north Bengal.

A total of 56,26,108 voters are eligible to vote in 5,814 booths in this phase.

Coochbehar, where Union Minister Nisith Pramanik faces TMC's Jagadish Chandra Barma Basunia, remains significant due to past violence and political rivalries. The deployment of central forces is higher in Coochbehar compared to the other two constituencies.

Both BJP and TMC have intensified their campaigns, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee addressing rallies.

Key issues include corruption allegations against ruling party leaders, denial of central funds, and the 2021 Sitalkuchi firing incident.

The BJP won all three constituencies in the 2019 general elections and maintained its grip in Coochbehar and Alipurduars in the 2021 assembly polls. But, the TMC had the upper hand in Jalpaiguri in the 2021 assembly polls, winning five and the saffron party managed to win two.

The Left Front and Congress are contesting together, having secured only single-digit vote shares in 2019.

The BJP has renominated Jayanta Roy in Jalpaiguri and Pramanik in Cooch Behar, but replaced last time's winner John Barla with the party's Madarihat MLA Manoj Tigga in Alipurduars.

The TMC has, however, changed candidates in all three seats, fielding Prakash Chik Baraik in Alipurduars, Nirmal Chandra Roy in Jalpaiguri and Sitai MLA Basunia in Coochbehar.

Direct, triangular contests in Assam's five LS seats

Assam gears up for the first phase of Lok Sabha polls in five constituencies, with 35 candidates vying for victory, including Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. The electorate of 86,47,869, comprising 43,64,859 women and 42,82,887 male voters, will cast their votes in 10,001 polling booths under tight security with 60 companies of security forces deployed.

The BJP is contesting in all five seats, the Congress in four and supporting the Assam Jatiya Parishad contestant in one, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in two and the All India Trinamool Congress and CPI(M) in one seat each.

A direct contest is on the cards between the BJP and Congress in Jorhat, Kaziranga and Lakhimpur, while in Dibrugarh and Sonitpur, there is likely to be a triangular fight among the ruling party, Congress, AJP and AAP.

The prestigious Dibrugarh constituency has three candidates in fray: BJP's Sonowal, a Rajya Sabha MP, pitted against the United Opposition Forum, Assam (UOFA) candidate Lurinjyoti Gogoi of the AJP and AAP's Manoj Dhanowar.

In Jorhat, four candidates are in contention, with Lok Sabha's Deputy Leader of the Opposition Gaurav Gogoi locked in a direct contest with sitting BJP MP Topon Gogoi. Gogoi had to shift his constituency to Jorhat from Kaliabor, which has been renamed Kaziranga following a delimitation exercise in the state last year.

In Kaziranga, BJP's Rajya Sabha MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa is locked in a direct contest with former Congress MLA Roselina Tirkey, with both candidates belonging to the tea workers' community. Kaziranga has the highest number of 11 candidates in the fray.

In Sonitpur, also renamed from the earlier Tezpur after delimitation, there are eight nominees, with a triangular contest likely between BJP MLA Ranjit Dutta, Congress candidate Prem Lal Ganju and AAP's Rishiraj Kaundinya.

Lakhimpur has nine contestants, prominent among them being sitting BJP MP Pradan Baruah and Uday Shankar Hazarika of the Congress.

Two LS seats in strife-torn Manipur go to polls

Manipur gears up for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections amid tight security measures, particularly in the wake of recent ethnic violence.

The Inner Manipur Lok Sabha seat, which comprises 32 of the 60 assembly segments in the state, and 15 assembly segments of the Outer Manipur Lok Sabha seat will go to polls in the first phase on Friday.

Six candidates, including state Education Minister Thounaojam Basanta Kumar Singh of the BJP and Angomcha Bimol Akoijam of the Congress, are in the fray for the Inner Manipur seat.

Outer Manipur, which is reserved for Scheduled Tribes, will witness a four-cornered contest between Naga People's Front's K Timothy Zimik, Congress' Alfred Kanngam Arthur and independent candidates Kho John and Alyson Abonmai, with all the candidates being Nagas.

A total of 9.91 lakh voters are eligible in Inner Manipur and over 10.22 lakh voters in Outer Manipur.

Special arrangements have been made for people displaced due to ethnic strife, with special polling stations set up.

The campaigning has been subdued due to the prevailing tensions, and security has been heightened with the deployment of central armed police forces, especially in vulnerable and critical polling stations.

Polling personnel have been dispatched to their respective stations, with special provisions for internally displaced people.

The election authorities have ensured gender diversity in the management of polling stations, with some stations being exclusively manned by women. Despite the challenges posed by the recent unrest, efforts are underway to conduct the elections in a free, fair, and peaceful manner.

Tripura and Nagaland

In Tripura, the first phase of Lok Sabha polls will see voting for the Tripura West Parliamentary constituency and a by-poll in the Ramnagar Assembly.

The main contest in Tripura West is between the BJP's Biplab Kumar Deb and state Congress president Asish Kumar Saha.

With 14.61 lakh eligible voters, including 7.33 lakh males and 7.28 lakh females, the constituency has 1682 polling booths. Central paramilitary forces will secure all booths, with webcasting from each.

In the Ramnagar Assembly by-election, BJP's Agartala Mayor Dipak Majumer faces former CPI(M) MLA Ratan Das, with 54,669 electors deciding their fate.

In Nagaland, over 13.25 lakh voters will decide the fate of three candidates.

Congress nominee S Supongmeren Jamir, Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and People's Democratic Alliance (PDA) candidate Chumben Murry and Independent Hayithung Tungoe Lotha are contesting the elections. BJP President J P Nadda, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, and Deputy Chief Ministers T R Zeliang and Y Patton addressed several rallies in support of their candidate.

Polling will run from 7 am to 4 pm, with 13,25,383 eligible voters, including 19,999 first-time voters and 6,707 people with disabilities. Female voters slightly outnumber male voters.

In 2019, NDPP's Tokheho Yepthomi won against Congress's K L Chishi.

J-K: Udhampur LC seat in action amid ceasefire

The Udhampur seat in Jammu and Kashmir will go to polls on Friday in the first phase of the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections.

In view of the ongoing ceasefire between India and Pakistan and the heavy deployment of paramilitary forces, the voting process is expected to be peaceful in 2,637 polling stations in the Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency, a senior election official said.

Union Minister Jitendra Singh is eyeing a third consecutive term in the constituency after winning the seat for BJP in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, facing a major challenge from Congress candidate Choudhary Lal Singh, who had also won the seat twice in 2004 and 2009.

Democratic Progressive Azad Party's (DPAP) candidate G M Saroori, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Amit Kumar and six independents will also be contesting the elections from the Udhampur constituency.

According to officials, there are 16,23,195 eligible voters. Among them, 845,283 are men, 777,899 are women and 13 are third-gender voters.

There are a total of 84,468 potential first-time voters, aged 18–19, of whom 45,825 are men, 38,641 are women and two are third genders, the officials said.

Lone Puducherry segment all set for three-way fight

The fate of the 26 candidates in fray for the Lok Sabha polls will be sealed on Friday when voters spread across four regions will pick the lone MP from this union territory, where the fight is largely confined between the ruling BJP and Congress.

BJP leader and Home Minister A Namassivayam, fielded on behalf of the AINRC-BJP combine, will face off Congress MP and PCC president V Vaithilingam, while AIADMK's G Tamizhvendhan is also testing his luck as a debutant.

The Union Territory has a total of 10,23,699 voters spread over Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam regions.

Andaman's lone seat in action

The lone seat in Andaman and Nicobar Islands will see 3.15 lakh voters get an opportunity to exercise their franchise. A total of 12 candidates, including two women and five independents, are in the fray for the polls.

Of the 3.15 lakh voters, 1.64 lakh are men and 1.51 lakh are women, while there are four third-gender voters.

The electorate also includes 39 voters from the Great Nicobarese tribe of the Strait Islands, 68 members of the Onge tribe at Hut Bay and 98 members of the Shompen tribe of Great Nicobar Island.

Special polling stations have been established for them.

This time, the saffron party has nominated Bishnu Pada Ray as its candidate, while the Congress has fielded its sitting MP, Kuldeep Rai Sharma. Ray was first elected to Lok Sabha in 1999, when he defeated Congress candidate Sharma by 2,990 votes.

He was re-elected in 2009 and again in 2014. In the 2019 elections, however, Sharma secured a victory against BJP's Vishal Jolly (Ray was denied a ticket) by a narrow margin of 1,407 votes.

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