The second biggest phase of the staggered electoral fight to govern India will play out on Thursday, giving more than 180 million voters the right to have their say across 117 Lok Sabha seats.
A week after the largest round of polling for 121 seats, voters across 11 states and Union
Territory Puducherry will decide the political fortunes of 2,076 candidates in round six.
What’s more, this round will also have a bearing on the prime ministerial ambitions of AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa and Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is in the fray from bastion Mainpuri. Polling in key state Maharashtra will also be completed.
The Congress had won 36 of these 117 seats in 2009, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) 26, the DMK 18, the AIADMK 9 and the Samajwadi Party 5.
Voting for 349 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats will be completed with this phase, leaving the last three stages.
Tamil Nadu will see voting for all its 39 seats in one go. Jayalalithaa is in power and aiming for a clean sweep, including the Puducherry seat.
The BJP drew a blank in the state in 2009, but has engineered a coalition with parties that cumulatively won more than 16% votes in the 2011 assembly polls.
BJP prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi has addressed at least seven meetings in Tamil Nadu in this campaign. The saffron party’s best showing in Tamil Nadu was four seats in 1999, as junior partner to the DMK.
The electoral debut of Congress candidate Karti Chidambaram, son of Union finance minister P Chidambaram, is grabbing eyeballs.
Maharashtra’s final chunk of 19 seats, including six in Mumbai, is on the line.
Debutants such as actor-director Mahesh Manjrekar, activist Medha Patkar and former banker Meera Sanyal are in the fray along with many of the old guard and second-generation leaders such as Priya Dutt and Milind Deora.
The ruling Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) coalition is up against anti-incumbency, having been in power since 1999, and a belligerent BJP-Shiv Sena combine.
It is a showcase of heavyweights in Uttar Pradesh, where voting will take place across 12 seats. Mulayam, daughter-in-law Dimple Yadav, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid, Amar Singh and Hema Malini are in the fray.
Most pollsters have viewed UP as a three-cornered contest between the BJP, SP and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The Congress will be hoping to prove pollsters wrong. It had won 21 seats from the state in 2009.
The voting process in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh will end with the final tranche of 10 seats. Sushma Swaraj, one of the saffron party’s top leaders, is in the fray.
The voting process will also end in Chhattisgarh (7 seats), Assam (6 seats), Rajasthan (5 seats) and Jharkhand (4 seats).
Cricketer-turned-politician Mohammad Azharuddin is in the fray in Rajasthan.
In Bihar, polling will be held for 7 seats. The political dynamics of Bihar have changed since the BJP-Janata Dal (United) split. The BJP has managed to seal a pact with Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). The big interest, however, is in what kind of impact Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad makes.
In West Bengal, President Pranab Mukherjee’s son, Abhijit Mukherjee, and Deepa Dasmunshi are among the central figures in the poll ring. Voting will be held for 6 seats.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti is the big name in the Anantnag contest in Jammu and Kashmir.
Here's a map for the constituencies going to polls on Thursday. On searching, you will get details of all parties fighting from a constituency and key candiates there:
© Copyright © 2013 HT Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.