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|October 2, 1999||
Longest ever poll process finally ends tomorrow
An electorate of 133 million will decide the fate of 1087 candidates in 118 Lok Sabha constituencies in ten states and the Union territory of Lakshadweep as polling in the 13th general elections for all but seven seats draws to a close tomorrow evening.
Among the aspirants are Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (Lucknow), Congress president Sonia Gandhi (Amethi), Bahujan Samaj Party vice-president Mayawati (Akbarpur), Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal president Laloo Prasad Yadav (Madhepura), former Union minister Santosh Mohan Deb of the Congress (Silchar) and Lok Sabha deputy speaker P M Sayeed (Lakshadweep).
Going to the polls will be all the 42 constituencies in West Bengal, 31 in Uttar Pradesh, 12 in Bihar, 13 in Assam, 11 in Orissa, two each in Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura and one each in Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim and the Union territory of Lakshadweep.
Polling will also be held for the 32-member Sikkim assembly, the 60-member Arunachal Pradesh assembly, seven assembly segments under Nasaraopet Lok Sabha constituency in Andhra Pradesh and five assembly seats in Karnataka. Arunachal Chief Minister Mukut Mithi and three other Congress nominees have already been declared elected unopposed to the 60-member house.
In Uttar Pradesh, 37 million voters are eligible to decide the fate of 462 candidates in 45,000 polling stations in 27 districts of the state.
Besides, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee from Lucknow, former prime minister Chandra Shekhar (Ballia), Congress president Sonia Gandhi (Amethi), Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati (Akbarpur), former ministers Beni Prasad Verma (Kaiserganj) and Arif Mohammad Khan (Bahraich) and Akbar Ahamad Dumpy (Azamgarh) are among the candidates in the fray.
Out of the 31 seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party had won 15 in 1998 and the Samajwadi Party nine. The BSP had won four while the Samata Party and the Samajwadi Janata Party had won two and one respectively.
Rae Bareili is another seat where two former ministers Arun Nehru and Captain Satish Sharma are locked in a direct fight.
The 31 UP constituencies are Sitapur, Misrikh, Lucknow, Mohanlalganj, Amethi, Sultanpur, Aizabad, Barabanki, Akbarpur, Kaiserganj, Bahraich, Balrampur, Gonda, Basti, Doomariaganj, Khalilabad, Bansgaon, Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Padrauna, Deoria, Salempur, Ballia, Ghosi, Azamgarh, Lalganj, Macchlishahr, Jaunpur, Saidpur and Ghazipur. Electronic voting machines will be used in Lucknow.
In the 12 constituencies in Bihar, 14 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in over 19,000 polling booths out of which more than 60 per cent has been identified as sensitive or hyper-sensitive. Altogether 98 candidates are in the fray.
The Election Commission has postponed polling to October 28 in Purnia, Bhagalpur, Rajmahal and Khagaria in the state following inundation of polling stations due to the recent rains. Polling in two assembly segments under Kathihar Lok Sabha seat has been deferred to Monday in view of the flood situation.
In the 1998 elections, of the twelve seats, seven were won by the Rashtriya Janata Dal, two by the Congress and one each by the BJP, the Samata Party and the now defunct Rashtriya Janata Party.
Campaigning for the third phase in the state was affected due to inclement weather.
The Election Commission has taken stringent measures following killing of at least 55 people, including more than 20 security personnel, in the two phases of elections in the state covering 38 constituencies.
The spectre of insurgency related violence continued to loom large in most parts of Assam.
The United Liberation Front of Assam, which killed BJP candidate Dr Pannalal Oswal, has announced boycott of the poll. Election in Dhubri has been postponed and a fresh date is yet to be announced.
About 13 million voters over the entire coastal and southern Orissa, in eleven of the total 21 Lok Sabha seats in the eastern state, are eligible to exercise their franchise in 16,091 polling stations to decide the fate of 60 candidates.
The constituencies are Mayurbhanj, Balesore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Kendrapada, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Bhubaneswar, Aska and Berhampur.
Prominent among those whose fate would be sealed in the ballots are Biju Janata Dal president and Union Steel and Mines Minister Naveen Patnaik (Aska), former Orissa chief minister J B Patnaik's wife Jayanti Patnaik (Berhampur), state Panchayat Raj Minister K C Lenka (Cuttack), former cricketeer Ranjib Biswal (Jagatsinghpur) and editor-turned-politician Bhartruhari Mahatab (Cuttack).
In Arunachal Pradesh, 6,09,174 voters, including 2,89,911 women, are eligible to exercise their franchise to elect two representatives to the Lok Sabha and 56 legislators to the state assembly.
Six candidates, three in each constituency, are in the fray for two Lok Sabha seats while 168 aspirants are trying their luck for 56 seats of the 60-member state assembly.
Some 2,55,253 voters, including 1,22752 women, are eligible to exercise their franchise for the simultaneous polls to the lone Lok Sabha seat and 32-member assembly in the Himalayan state of Sikkim.
Altogether 109 candidates, including four for the Lok Sabha seat, are in the fray. All the three major political parties in the Himalayan state, including the two regional outfits, the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front and the opposition Sikkim Sangram Parishad, and the Congress have fielded candidates for both the assembly and the Lok Sabha seat. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is contesting two assembly seats.
In Hoshangabad and Vidisha Lok Sabha constituencies of Madhya Pradesh where polling had been adjourned twice due to floods, as many as 2325144 voters, including more than 1.78 million women, are eligible to decide the fate of 12 candidates.
BJP vice-president Sunderlal Patwa is locked in a tough contest against former minister Rajkumar Patel (Congress) in Hoshangabad while state BJP secretary Shivraj Singh Chouhan and a former Congress minister Jaswant Singh are testing their electoral fortunes from Vidisha constituency.
An electorate of 17,95,414, including 8,65,641 women, would decide the fortunes of 17 candidates, of whom 12 are contesting for the Tripura West Lok Sabha seat and five for the Tripura East parliamentary constituency, reserved for tribals.
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