Kolkata/Baramulla/Shimla/Moradabad, May 13 (ANI): Polling for the fifth and last phase of Lok Sabha elections in 86 constituencies in seven States and two Union Territories began today amid tight security.
The polling exercise began at 7:00 a.m. across 1.21 lakh booths.
In this phase, polling is being held in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab; and two Union Territories – Chandigarh, Puducherry.
Election is being held to four seats in Himachal Pradesh, two in Jammu and Kashmir, nine in Punjab, 39 in Tamil Nadu, 14 in Uttar Pradesh, 11 in West Bengal, five in Uttarakhand, the lone one seat each in Chandigarh and Puducherry.
Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir are the only states to have undergone polls in all the five phases.
There are a total of 1,432 candidates including 93 women in the fray and close to 10.78 crore voters.
The prominent contestants in the fray are Congress’s P. Chidambaram and Mohd. Azharuddin, BJP’s Maneka Gandhi, Varun Gandhi, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Vinod Khanna, DMK’s M K Azhagiri, Dayanidhi Maran, T R Baalu and A Raja, MDMK’s Vaiko, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi Party’s Jayaprada.
The other important contestants in the fray are Mani Shankar Aiyar, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Sajjad Gani Lone, and Tamil actor M Karthik.
In Kolkata, voters turned out in large numbers to cast their votes.
Communist Party Of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat was among the early voters who stood in a queue to exercise her voting right.
“I felt good because my vote is for an alternative secular progressive government at the Centre. I’m sure that my individual vote added to that,” said Karat.
In Baramulla district of Kashmir, voters defied the boycott call given by the separatists to cast their votes in large numbers.
The futility of the boycott and the frequent loss incurred due to the shutdowns called by the hardliners has disillusioned the residents who said they want stability and peace.
“I don’t think that the boycott call given by the Hurriyat is having any effect on the people as they have also realised that there is nothing to be gained from these boycotts. Many have come here to cast their votes,” said Kifayat Hussian, a voter.
In Shimla, peace and betterment of poor topped the voters’ wish list as they cast their votes.
“We want a government with a clean image that works for the upliftment of poor and labourers. And restores peace in the country,” said Prem Kumar, a voter.
A group of early voters also gathered in Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu valley.
In Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, constituency of former cricket team captain Mohammad Azharuddin, who is contesting on a Congress party ticket, polling was being conducted in tight security.
So far, elections have been completed to 457 seats since the exercise began on April 16.
On May 7, the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha elections held for 85 constituencies spread across seven States had witnessed 57 per cent voting of the total 9.46 crore eligible votes.
The first, second and third phases of polling were held on April 16, 23 and 30 respectively.
The counting of votes will take place on May 16. The 543-member House will be constituted before June 2. (ANI)