India polls: Stage set for high-octane battle in Karnataka; BJP keen to open account in Kerala

Kerala will decide the fate of 194 candidates as polling on all 20 parliamentary constituencies will be held in the second phase


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Published: Thu 25 Apr 2024, 9:59 PM

The stage is set for a high-octane political battle in the south Indian state of Kerala and Karnataka as prominent leaders from main political parties like Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, V Muraleedharan, KC Venugopal, Annie Raja, Tejasvi Surya, DK Suresh, K Surendran and HD Kumaraswamy, entered the fray for the Lok Sabha elections in phase 2 on April 26.

Kerala will decide the fate of 194 candidates as polling on all 20 parliamentary constituencies will be held in the second phase on Friday — Kasaragod, Kannur, Vatakara, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Ponnani, Palakkad, Alathur, Thrissur, Chalakudy, Ernakulam, Idukki, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Mavelikkara, Pathanamthitta, Kollam, Attingal, Thiruvananthapuram

Karnataka, which contributes 28 seats in 543-member parliament, will witness polling in two phases in which voting will be held on 14 seats — Udupi Chikamagalur, Hassan, Dakshina Kannada, Chitradurga, Tumkur, Mandya, Mysore, Chamarajanagar, Bangalore Rural, Bangalore North, Bangalore Central, Bangalore South, Chikballapur, Kolar.

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The bypoll will be held in Surpur (Shorapur) constituency located in the Yadgir district.

Several opposition parties have come together to form the INDIA bloc to put up common candidates against the BJP.

India will go for the second phase of Lok Sabha elections tomorrow in a high-stakes battle across 13 states and union territories with the campaign marked by sharp jibes by the leaders of BJP as also by Congress and other opposition parties.

The second phase of polling was to be held on 89 seats but it has been deferred to May 7 in Betul in Madhya Pradesh due to the death of a BSP candidate.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is re-contesting from Kerala's Wayanad. In Thiruvananthapuram, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor is seeking a fourth successive term. DK Suresh from Bangalore Rural, and Tejasvi Surya from Bangalore South.

According to the Election Commission, Kerala has over 2.75 crore voters. In Kerala, a total of 194 candidates across 20 Lok Sabha seats are competing for voters' support as the state heads to the polls on Friday.

Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Electoral Officer Sanjay Kaul said that 25,231 polling booths which are ready to welcome all the voters tomorrow morning at 7am.

"We have 25,231 polling booths which are ready to welcome all the voters tomorrow morning at 7am. 70 per cent of the polling parties have reached the booths today. We have made elaborate arrangements for the comfort of the voters who come there. There will be an orderly queue management system. We will have volunteers managing the queues. There will be separate queues for elderly people. There is drinking water and toilet facilities. For our friends who are physically challenged, we have ramps on all the booths. We have wheelchairs. We expect it to be a little warm tomorrow, we have shaded areas wherever the booths do not have permanent shaded structures... We are ready as far as security is concerned. Police forces also have been deployed... There are about 1700 vulnerable and critical booths spread across all the statistics in the state... Vulnerable and critical booths, we have special facilities... We have the cameras both inside and outside the booth... We have central parametric forces deployed," he said.

Of the 20 constituencies in Kerala going to polls, two seats — Alathur and Mavelikara — are reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) candidates.

In 2019, the Congress party registered victory on 19 out of the 20 seats while CPI-M could only win one seat. The BJP failed to open its account.

Karnataka, saw the BJP securing 25 seats out of 28 seats in the 2019 elections. This time, the BJP is contesting in 25 seats, with its state ally JDS vying for the remaining 3 seats. The three constituencies contested by JDS are part of the second phase — Hassan, Mandya, and Kolar.

Bangalore South and Mysuru stand as other pivotal constituencies going to the polls on April 26.

The election campaigning centred around various issues, including the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), allegations of 'love jihad'(Murder of Congress corporator's daughter Neha Hiremath in Hubballi), controversies surrounding the movie 'The Kerala Story', the Manipur violence incident and Rahul Gandhi's candidature in Wayanad against Annie Raja.

Moreover, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar exuded confidence in the Bharatiya Janata Party "picking up many more" seats in the southern states in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

Jaishankar asserted that a "new level of energy and enthusiasm" is seen across South India.

"I think what you are seeing in South India is really a very new level of energy and enthusiasm. I could see that in Telangana, where I was, but in other southern states as well. So I think there's a genuine possibility, a serious possibility this time that the BJP would actually pick up many more seats in all the southern states," Jaishankar said.

Jaishankar earlier on Wednesday campaigned for BJP's candidate from Telangana's Bhuvanagiri Lok Sabha seat.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed confidence that the BJP's vote share in the South would increase this time compared to the previous parliamentary polls.

In an interview with Asianet News Network on April 21, PM Modi said, "You see Telangana, where our vote share has doubled. In the 2019 parliamentary elections, the BJP emerged as the single largest party in the South. The BJP has the highest number of MPs. I believe that in 2024 (the Lok Sabha elections), the vote share is going to increase compared to the previous elections. Seats will also increase."

The second phase has 88 Lok Sabha constituencies including all 20 seats in Kerala, 14 in Karnataka, 13 in Rajasthan, eight in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, five each in Assam and Bihar, six in Madhya Pradesh, three each in Chhattisgarh and West Bengal and one each in Tripura, Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir.

Voting will begin at 7 am tomorrow and will conclude at 6 pm. The Lok Sabha election is being held in seven phases till June 1 and votes will be counted on June 4.

The first phase of voting for the seven-phased Lok Sabha election, the world's largest electoral exercise, was held on April 19 in 102 constituencies across 21 states and union territories. According to the Election Commission, the voter turnout registered was over 62 per cent. The third phase election will be held on May 7.


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