Today, the second phase of the gigantic Lok Sabha elections began under the shadow of multiple raids involving what the authorities say is a cash-for-votes scam in Tamil Nadu. Elections in 38 Lok Sabha and 18 assembly seats of the state are being held, though polling in the Vellore seat has been cancelled following huge cash haul by Income Tax officials. Elections are also being held in 35 assembly constituencies in Odisha. 95 Lok Sabha seats across 11 states and one in the Union Territory of Puducherry are voting today, in which electoral fortunes of four union ministers and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda will be decided. The counting of votes for the seven-phase election, which ends on May 19, will be held on May 23. Among the early voters were superstar Rajinikanth, Congress leader P Chidambaram and son Karti and Sushilkumar Shinde.
The states which are voting for Phase 2 Lok Sabha polls are Assam (5 seats), Bihar (5 seats), Chhattisgarh (3), Jammu and Kashmir (2), Karnataka (14), Maharashtra (10), Manipur (1), Odisha (5), Tamil Nadu (38), Uttar Pradesh (8), West Bengal (3), and Union Territory Puducherry (1).
Earlier, 97 constituencies were scheduled to go to polls. However, the Election Commission earlier this week cancelled polling in Tamil Nadu's Vellore Lok Sabha constituency in the wake of the seizure of cash. Meanwhile, elections in East Tripura were postponed from April 18 to April 23 after the EC cited law and order issues.
Long queues were observed in the three north West Bengal constituencies on Thursday morning. The polling would continue till 6 p.m. A total of 49,32,346 voters -- 25,22,887 men, 24,09,372 women and 87 registered in the `other` category are eligible to vote today. In Uttar Pradesh, two actors-turned-politicians - Hema Malini (BJP) and Raj Babbar (Congress) -- are among the 85 candidates in the fray for eight Lok Sabha seats in Phase II of Lok Sabha Elections. Raj Babbar is contesting from Fatehpur Sikri, while Bollywood "dream girl" of yesteryears, Hema Malini, is seeking re-election from the temple-town constituency of Mathura.