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First phase of polling tomorrow
April 19, 2004 21:01 IST
Polling for the first of the five-phase Lok Sabha election will take place on Tuesday, with voters in 13 states and three Union territories exercising their franchise.
The fate of 1,103 candidates, including Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani, Railway Minister Nitish Kumar and several other Union ministers will be sealed in 140 Lok Sabha constituencies.
Voters will also choose their representatives in 147 of the 294 assembly constituencies in Andhra Pradesh, 120 of 224 in Karnataka and 77 of 147 in Orissa.
An estimated 7.56 crore people are eligible to vote.
The states going to polls in the first phase are Assam (6 Lok Sabha seats), Andhra Pradesh (21), Bihar (11), Gujarat (26), Jammu and Kashmir (2), Karnataka (15), Maharashtra (24), Manipur (1), Meghalaya (2), Mizoram (1), Orissa (11), Chhattisgarh (11), Jharkhand (6), Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadar and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu (1 each).
The first phase will cover all constituencies in Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.
A massive security blanket has been thrown, particularly in naxal-affected Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Bihar, besides militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir.
The Election Commission has identified 22,713 polling stations as hypersensitive and 44,171 as sensitive.
In J&K 508 booths have been identified as hyper-sensitive.
Almost three-fourths of the 15,261 polling booths in Bihar have been declared sensitive or hypersensitive and shoot-at-sight orders have been issued.
Of the 7,748 booths in Jharkhand, 2,346 have been declared as sensitive and 4,322 as hypersensitive. Banned naxalite organisations, who have already given a poll-boycott call, have announced a statewide bandh on April 20 and 26, when the polls will be held in the state.
In Gujarat, 10,492 out of a total of 36,826 booths have been identified as sensitive.
In Assam, prominent candidates whose fate will be decided in this phase are Assamese cultural icon Bhupen Hazarika of the Bharatiya Janata Party, lottery baron Moni Kumar Subba of the Congress and Jayashree Goswami Mahanta, wife of former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta.