M A I N   N E W S

Polling today seals fates of Sonia, George
Shoot-at-sight ordered in UP
Tribune News Service and Agencies

New Delhi, April 25
The juggernaut of Indian democracy is poised to go full throttle tomorrow when polling for the second phase of Lok Sabha poll in 136 constituencies spread over 11 states would take place.

Tomorrow’s polling would lock the political fortunes of some 1278 candidates in electronic voting machines, including the movers and shakers of Indian polity like Congress President Sonia Gandhi (Rae Bareli), her son Rahul Gandhi (Amethi), BSP chief Mayawati (Akbarpur), Defence Minister George Fernandes (Muzaffarnagar), Petroleum Minister Ram Naik and film star Govinda (both North Mumbai), Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi (Mumbai-North Central), NCP President Sharad Pawar (Baramati), RJD President Laloo Prasad Yadav and Civil Aviation Miniser Rajiv Pratap Rudy (both Chapra) and former Prime Ministers Chandra Shekhar (Ballia) and H.D. Dewe Gowda (Hassan).

Special observers have been deployed in Rae Bareli from where Ms Sonia Gandhi is contesting after her daughter Priyanka Gandhi conveyed her apprehension of poll irregularities to the Election Commission.

The elections tomorrow will cover 32 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, 24 of 48 seats in Maharashtra, 21 out of 42 in Andhra Pradesh, 17 out of 40 in Bihar, 13 of the 28 in Karnataka, 10 of the 21 in Orissa, eight in Jharkhand, seven in Assam, two in Goa and one each in Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir. Polling in Silchar (Assam) has been postponed to May 10 because of heavy rains there.

Consider some amazing statistics. An estimated 17.23 crore voters will participate in the polling and select their representatives to the House of People from among 1278 aspirants, including 60 women. The massive exercise will be conducted in 1.72 lakh polling booths.

Over one lakh Central forces are being deployed to ensure a peaceful, free and fair poll. As many as 75,618 booths have been declared sensitive. Of these 28,119 are hypersensitive. Additional security forces will be deployed at these booths.

As many as 60 women are contesting the elections, the maximum 16 being in Uttar Pradesh, where 121 candidates are in the fray for 32 Lok Sabha seats. 13 women are among 202 candidates contesting in Maharashtra for the 24 seats. In Jammu and Kashmir, two women are contesting election for the Srinagar seat from where National Conference chief Omar Abdullah is also in the fray. Around 464 Independent candidates are also contesting elections.

Elections will also be held for the second and final phase of assembly elections in 147 of the 194 constituencies in Andhra Pradesh, 104 out of 224 seats in Karnataka and 70 of the 147 seats in Orissa.

Lucknow: With 32 seats going to poll in the first phase of elections in Uttar Pradesh tomorrow, the security apparatus in the state is set to face its toughest test with shoot-and-sight orders and other precautionary measures in place to stop trouble-makers from disrupting the polls.

Polling covering eastern parts of the state will include constituencies like Rae Bareli, Jaunpur, Ghazipur, Siddharthnagar and Balrampur. The international border with Nepal and inter-state borders with Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh were sealed off early today while contingents of paramilitary forces conducting flag marches in sensitive constituencies to instill confidence among voters.

As a precautionary measure, mobile phones in the areas where election is scheduled would be jammed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Videography has also been ordered on a large scale so that observers can assess the situation without any hitch.

In Pratapgarh and Rae Bareli, two separate special observers have been appointed while senior police officers of the rank of IG camping in both the constituencies.

Shoot-at-sight orders have been issued in Rae Bareli, Pratapgarh, Siddharthnagar, Balrampur and other districts to prevent criminals from interfering in the poll process.

Guntur: A TDP leader was today hacked to death allegedly by Congress workers at Vipparla Reddy Palem village near Narasaraopeta town in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district, the police said.

About 10 assailants hurled bombs before hacking to death the TDP leader identified as T. Hayagreeva Rao (45). The situation in the village was described as tense. The police has seized hand grenades.

The village comes under the faction-ridden Narasar-aopet assembly segment, where elections would be held during the second and final phase of poll tomorrow.


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