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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Polling for high-profile seventh phase of LS polls involving Varanasi on Saturday

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Polling for 13 seats in the seventh and last phase of Lok Sabha polls, which include high profile constituencies like Varanasi being represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gorakhpur, the hometown of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, will be held on Saturday, a senior poll officer said here.

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Uttar Pradesh Navdeep Rinwa informed that under the seventh phase of Lok Sabha polls, voting will be held for 13 Lok Sabha constituencies of the state on Saturday. He said that a by-election will also be held for the Duddhi assembly segment in Sonbhadra district.

He said while polling in 12 parliamentary constituencies will be held between 7 AM to 6 PM, polling in two assembly segments of Robertsganj which are tribal areas will be held between 7 AM to 4 PM.

The CEO said a total of 144 candidates, including 134 male and 10 female, are in the fray for 13 Lok Sabha constituencies in the seventh phase.

He said out of 13 Lok Sabha seats, 11 seats are of the general category and 2 seats are reserved for Scheduled Castes. “The 13 Lok Sabha constituencies of this phase are Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria, Bansgaon, Ghosi, Salempur, Ballia, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur and Robertsganj.

He said these 13 seats are spread over 11 districts including Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria, Mau, Ballia, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur, and Sonbhadra.

The CEO said there are 2.50 crore voters in the 13 Lok Sabha constituencies of the seventh phase, of which 1.33 crore are male voters and 1.17 crore are female voters, who are eligible to decide the fate of the candidates in the fray. “There are a total of 14,183 polling centers and 25,658 polling booths where polling will be held between 7 AM to 6 PM,” he said.

Rinwa said to keep a close watch on the voting, the Commission has also deployed 3 special observers, 13 general observers, 8 police observers, and 14 expenditure observers. “Apart from these 1,861 sector Magistrates, 243 zonal Magistrates, 130 static Magistrates and 2,550 micro Observers have also been deployed,” he said.

Among the most watched-after and high-profile seats is Varanasi, which has been represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi since 2014. Varanasi is considered to be a bastion of the BJP as the party has never lost from here since 1996, barring once in 2004.

PM Modi, who is seeking a third term from Varanasi, secured a landslide victory by obtaining 63 percent of the total votes in 2019. This time, He faces state Congress President Ajay Rai and BSP’s Athar Jamal Lari.

It may be noted that Modi had defeated Ajay Rai by a landslide margin in 2019 and 2014, when Aam Aadmi Party’s convener Arvind Kejriwal contested against the PM and was placed second.

In Gorakhpur, the hometown of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, two actors turned politicians are challenging each other. Sitting BJP MP Ravindra Kishan Shukla, popularly known as Ravi Kishan Shukla, is fighting to retain the seat for the second time in a row. He faces INDI bloc candidate Kajal Nishad, also a Bhojpuri actor.

Mirzapur seat is also very important for the NDA. In the 2019 polls, Union Minister and Apna Dal (Sonelal) President Anupriya Patel won the seat. She is up against SP’s Rajendra S Bind and BSP’s Manish Tripathi.

On another hot seat Ghazipur where Parasnath Rai, who is considered close to Jammu and Kashmir LG Manoj Sinha will be facing Afzal Ansari, brother of gangster-turned-mafia Mukhtar Ansari who died recently, on SP ticket. In 2019, Afzal Ansari defeated senior BJP leader Manoj Sinha by over 1.19 lakh votes. Umesh Kumar Singh is in the fray from BSP.

It will be the first time that any election is being held in the absence of Mukhtar Ansari, who died on March 23.

In Maharajganj, BJP candidate and Union Minister Pankaj Choudhary is being challenged by Virendra Chaudhary of Congress.

On yet another hot seat Ballia, Neeraj Shekhar, son of former Prime Minister Chandrasekhar and Rajya Sabha member, is facing a tough contest from Sanatan Pandey of SP with Lallan Singh Yadav of BSP. In the last election, the seat was won by Virendra Singh Mast of BJP, who has been denied a ticket this time.

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