Voting begins for final phase of Lok Sabha polls (Lead)

May 13th, 2009 - 8:55 am ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram New Delhi, May 13 (IANS) The fifth and final round of balloting which brings the curtain down on the Lok Sabha elections began Wednesday morning in 86 constituencies spread over seven states and two union territories.
A total of 1,432 candidates are in the fray in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Chandigarh and Puducherry.

Key candidates in Wednesday’s 10 hour exercise include Home Minister P. Chidambaram (Sivagana, Tamil Nadu), Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee (South Kolkata) and Sajjad Lone (Baramulla, Jammu and Kashmir).

The staggered polls, meant to elect a new 545-member Lok Sabha, began April 16. All the votes will be counted Saturday.

A total of 108 million voters — of Indian’s total electorate of 714 million — are eligible to exercise their franchise. Tens and thousands of police and paramilitary forces have been deployed to guard 121,632 polling stations.

All 39 Lok Sabha seats of Tamil Nadu, all four of Himachal Pradesh and all five of Uttarakhand will see polling Wednesday.

Jammu and Kashmir will vote for two Lok Sabha seats, Punjab for nine, Uttar Pradesh for 14 and West Bengal for 11. There is one seat each in Puducherry and Chandigarh.

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