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LS polls end today

LS polls end today
Highlights

Lok Sabha Polls End Today. India\'s most bitterly fought parliamentary elections end on Monday when the last lot of 41 Lok Sabha constituencies vote in three major states, bringing the curtains down on a five-week-plus process widely expected to end a decade of Congress rule.

All eyes on Varanasi as Modi & Kejriwal in fray

New Delhi: India's most bitterly fought parliamentary elections end on Monday when the last lot of 41 Lok Sabha constituencies vote in three major states, bringing the curtains down on a five-week-plus process widely expected to end a decade of Congress rule.

Over nine crore voters are expected to decide the fate of 606 candidates, including BJP's Prime Ministerial nominee Narendra Modi and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal (both Varanasi) and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav (Azamgarh) in the ninth and final phase of polling.

Of the 41 seats, heartland Uttar Pradesh will witness polling in 18 seats. Of these, ruling Samajwadi Party has six seats, followed by BSP 5, BJP 4 and Congress 3. West Bengal has 17 seats in which polling will be held. Of these, the ruling Trinamool Congress has 14 seats, while Congress, CPI and Independent have one each.

In neighbouring Bihar, six seats are up for grabs. Of them, BJP and JD(U) have two each, while RJD and Independent have one each.

Overall, 9,667 candidates fought for the Lok Sabha seats in a poll that showed a high voter turnout among the 814 million electorate, the world's biggest. And Modi, political analysts say, will remain in the centre of it all -- through the last round in Varanasi where he is pitted against Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal.

Congress leaders apart, no one seems to have any doubt that the Congress-led UPA is on its way out. Fingers, however, are crossed on whether a BJP-led coalition led by Modi will secure a clear majority in the 545-member Lok Sabha or will it be forced to hunt for numbers to form a government.

Campaigning in the election that started on April 7 came to an end on Saturday with Rahul Gandhi taking the battle to Modi's turf in Varanasi while other top leaders including Modi and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav addressed last-minute meetings.

Counting of votes in all the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies will be taken up on May 16.

Polling was by and large peaceful in the previous eight phases barring incidents of Maoist violence in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The country registered a record turnout of voters, surpassing the previous record in 1984, as 66.27 per cent voting was reported in 502 Lok Sabha seats where polling has been conducted in eight phases that began on April 7. The 2009 elections recorded a 57.94 per cent turnout.

Modi spearheaded the BJP challenge and criss-crossed the country addressing nearly 6,000 meetings, mixing traditional methods of holding rallies with innovative use of technology, 'chai par charcha' meetings and 3D video campaign.

The Nehru-Gandhi family made a vigorous push for votes with Rahul, his mother and Congress President Sonia Gandhi, and his sister Priyanka Gandhi leading the party challenge.

Prominent among those in the fray in Monday’s polling are Union Minister Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary (Behrampur-West Bengal), BJP leader Jagdambika Pal (Domariyaganj-UP), Union Minister R P N Singh (Kushi Nagar-UP) and former minister and RJD leader Raghuvanh Prasad Singh (Vaishali-Bihar).

In West Bengal, prominent TMC candidates in the race are Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Dinesh Trivedi and Sougata Roy besides celebrities like actors Dipak Adhikari (Dev) and Tapas Paul. Trinamool Yuva President Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, is also in the fray. On the rival side, CPI-M's Subhasini Ali is among the key candidates.

BJP nominee magician P C Sorcar (Junior) and WBPCC President Adhir Chowdhury, besides former West Bengal Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta of the CPI-M and former Union minister Tapan Sikdar of the BJP, pitted against each other in Dum Dum, are the key contestants in the last phase.

In Bihar, filmmaker Prakash Jha and former union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh are among the 90 contestants.

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