Final votes in Election 2009 to be cast Wednesday (Curtainraiser)

May 12th, 2009 - 2:49 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram New Delhi, May 12 (IANS) Balloting in the five-phase Indian elections draw to a close Wednesday with voters in seven states and two union territories deciding the fate of 1,432 candidates, including union ministers P. Chidambaram and Mani Shanker Aiyar who are contesting from Tamil Nadu.
Polling will be held in 86 constituencies with 107 million voters eligible to exercise their franchise to choose their nominee in the Lok Sabha. The candidates include 93 women.

The staggered elections began April 16 and the millions of votes cast would be counted May 16 to decide the outcome of one of India’s most fiercely fought electoral battles that is expected to throw up a hung parliament.

In the month that was, alliances came under strain and new allies were sought in a campaign with both major coalition leaders, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), looking at a splintered verdict.

The Election Commission has set up over 121,000 polling booths to be overseen by a polling staff of 500,000. There would be 186,000 electronic voting machines.

Officials have identified 5,995 villages and hamlets as vulnerable, apprehending that there could be trouble.

Testing their electoral luck will be Home Minister P. Chidambaram (Congress) from Sivaganga and his colleague, Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shanker Aiyar, from Mayiladuthurai.

Amongst the other prominent leaders fighting it out are Trinamool Congress’ Mamata Banerjee (Kolkata South), BJP’s Varun Gandhi (Pilibhit), former cricketers Mohammad Azharuddin (Moradabad) from Congress and Navjot Singh Sidhu (Amritsar) from Amritsar. Also in the fray is the BJP’s film star turned politician Vinod Khanna, who is seeking to be re-elected from Gurdaspur.

Polling will be held in Tamil Nadu (39 seats), Uttar Pradesh (14), West Bengal (11), Punjab (nine), Uttarakhand (five), Himachal Pradesh (four) and Jammu and Kashmir (two). Balloting will take place for one seat each in the union territories Chandigarh and Puducherry.

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