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|September 24, 1999||
74 constituencies go to poll tomorrowThe 13th general elections enter phase four tomorrow when 74 constituencies spread over Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Himachal Pradesh and four other states go to polls amid stepped up security.
An electorate of 80 million will decide the fate of 696 candidates in the fray for 24 lok sabha constituencies in UP, 19 in Bihar, 12 in Madhya Pradesh, 10 in Orissa, four in Himachal, two in Meghalaya and one each in Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur.
By Saturday evening, polling for 418 Lok Sabha seats out of the total 545 would be over.
Security has been stepped up in Bihar and other states after violence erupted during the September 18 polling.
Key contests in UP include Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav (Sambhal), veteran Congress leader Narain Dutt Tiwari (Nainital), Union Minister of State for Agriculture Sompal Shastri the Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh (Baghpat), Union Welfare Minister Maneka Gandhi (Pilibhit)and Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (Rampur).
In Bihar, Defence Minister George Fernandes is in the fray from Nalanda, his fellow Samata Party leader Nitish Kumar from Barh and former railway minister Ramvilas Paswan from Hajipur.
It will be the second stage of the elections in these two key states of the Hindi heartland.
In Uttar Pradesh, indications are that the BJP may find it hard to retain 17 out of the 24 seats. The remaining 31 constituencies mainly from eastern part of the state will go to polls on October 3. About 28 million voters are eligible to vote in 35, 073 polling centres spread over 30 districts of the state. Of these 8,731 polling stations have been identified as hyper-sensitive and 5,803 as sensitive.
The 24 constituencies in UP, including three reserved ones, are spread over thirty districts, mainly hills and western districts of the state. A total of 35,073 polling stations, 8,731 of whom have been identified as hyper-sensitive and 5,803 as sensitive, have been set up.
The highest number of 22 candidates are in the fray from Muzaffarnagar, while a lowest of eight candidates are contesting from Tehri Garhwal constituency.
Employees on poll duty in eight polling stations of Almora constituency would reach there by helicopter while hundreds of polling stations of Tehri Garhwal and Garhwal constituencies can be reached only by mules and other such means.
Out of a total of 320 candidates in UP, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have fielded 24 candidates each, while the BJP and the Congress are contesting on 21 and 18 seats respectively.
Of these seats, the BJP has left the Pilibhit seat for Union Minister Maneka Gandhi amd the Moradabad and Hardoi (reserved) seats for its ally in the state, the Loktantrik Congress Party.
The Congress has spared six seats - Bijnore (reserved) , Amroha, Hapur, Baghpat, Kairana and Saharanpur for the Rashtriya Janata Dal candidates on an electoral understanding.
State election office sources said that all possible steps have been taken to hold the second phase polling in Bihar in a free, fair and impartial manner.
Nearly 20 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise through more than 29,000 polling centres to choose 19 representatives from 177 candidates in the fray. The electoral battle is expected to be mostly a direct confrontation between the ruling Rashtriya Janata Dal-led alliance and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led combine with BJP's ally Janata Dal (United) having very high stakes in this round of polls. The party's three main leaders - Defence Minister George Fernandes, former union ministers Nitish Kumar and Ramvilas Paswan's - are in the fray.
It will be Vajpayee versus Sonia Gandhi contest which will decide the outcome of the first phase of Lok Sabha elections in Orissa.
There are 45 candidates in the fray for the ten of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state which would go to the polls on Saturday.
The battle for ballots would be mostly fought between the ruling Congress and the BJP-Biju Janata Dal combine in the first phase election, although political parties like the CPI (M), the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Janata Dal (United) are also in the fray.
Over 12 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the ten Lok Sabha seats spread over south Orissa, western Orissa and part of north Orissa.
Orissa Chief Minister Giridhar Gamang's wife Hema Gamang has jumped into the fray for the first time to contest the Koraput Lok Sabha seat, held by her husband eight times in a row since 1972.
She would be facing a formidable Biju Janata Dal-BJP combine candidate Jayaram Pangi in a triangular contest. Orissa Pradesh Congress chief Hemanand Biswal has also entered parliamentary politics for the first time. He is pitted against Union Minister of State for Surface Transport Debendra Pradhan (BJP) in Deogarh Lok Sabha seat in a six-cornered contest.
Amidst tight security in the Naxalite areas, more than 12.80 million voters will decide the fate of 99 candidates in 12 Lok Sabha constituencies in the third phase of polling in Madhya Pradesh tomorrow.
Among those who figure in this phase of elections are Union Minister of State for Steel and Mines Ramesh Bais (Raipur), former Uttar Pradesh governor, Motilal Vora (Rajnandgaon), former chief Minister, Shayma Charan Shukla (Mahasamund), former union ministers Kamal Nath (Chhindwara) and Vimla Verma (Seoni) and state Bahujan Samaj Party president Dauram Ratnakar (Sarangarh-sc).
A massive security cover has been thrown Naxalite-infested Bastar (st), Kanker (st), Rajnandgaon, Mandla (st) and Balaghat Lok Sabha constituencies, which are spread over eight districts of Bastar, Dantewara, Kanker, Mandla, Dondori, Kawarda, Rajnandgaon, and Balaghat.
Helicopters have been pressed into service for aerial surveillance of Naxalite areas, while police force has been provided with land mine detectors in view of incidents of land mine explosions in the previous elections.
Personnel of the Border Security Force, the Central Reserve Police Force and the Special Armed Force have been deployed in sensitive areas to ensure smooth conduct of polling. The state police is also in touch with its counterparts in neighbouring Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh to monitor Naxalites' movements.
In view of a poll boycott call given by Naxalite outfit Peoples War Group and its different dalams, police has intensified patrolling in the Naxalite infested areas to instil confidence among the voters.
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