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Election

BJP-led NDA has won 270 seats, will cross 400 in next phases: Amit Shah

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday urged voters in Delhi to press the EVM button for the BJP's lotus symbol with such "aggression" that Arvind Kejriwal remembers that he has to go back to Tihar jail.

Shah asserted that according to the information he has, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has already won around 270 seats and it will cross the 400 mark in the next phases of the election. He attacked both the Congress and the AAP over the issues of corruption, Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Ram temple. "Is PoK ours or not?" he asked the gathering and accused the Congress and its Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A) partners of scaring the country on the issue.

"Listen Rahul Baba (Rahul Gandhi), PoK will be taken back by us," he asserted.

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Abhijit Gangopadhyay sends reply to EC show-cause notice over 'undignified' remark on Mamata

Former Calcutta High Court judge and BJP's candidate Abhijit Gangopadhyay on Monday sent his reply to the show-cause notice issued by the Election Commission (EC) for his "undignified" remark against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The EC had sought a response from Gangopadhyay by 5 PM on May 20.

The BJP has fielded Gangopadhyay from the Tamluk seat in West Bengal, where voting will be held on May 25. "We have received his (Gangopadhyay's) reply today and forwarded it to the Delhi office," the official said, adding that senior officials of the EC would take a call after going through the former judge's reply to the show-cause notice, he said.

The EC found Gangopadhyay's comment "beyond dignity in every sense of term" and "in bad taste", violating the provisions of the Model Code of Conduct and its advisory to political parties.

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Over 60% polling in fifth phase; WB records 76% turnout

Over 60% voter turnout was recorded in 49 constituencies in six states and two Union territories in the fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections, with Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir recording its highest-ever voting percentage.

West Bengal recorded the highest polling percentage at 76.05, while Maharashtra recorded the lowest at 54.33%. Mumbai's six Lok Sabha constituencies saw voting between 47% to around 55%. Thane recorded a turnout of 49.81%, according to the EC's voter turnout app at midnight. The Election Commission (EC) reported that urban apathy continued in various urban cities like Mumbai, Thane, Nashik, and Lucknow.

The Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency, once militancy-infested, recorded its highest-ever voter turnout at 59%. Other states recorded 54.85% turnout, Jharkhand 63.99%, Odisha 69.34%, Uttar Pradesh 57.79%, and Ladakh 69.62%. Incidents of violence marred the polls in seven parliamentary constituencies of West Bengal, where TMC and BJP workers clashed in various parts of Barrackpore, Bongaon, and Arambagh seats. The state CEO's office received 1,913 complaints related to EVM malfunctioning and polling agents being stopped from entering booths.

In Uttar Pradesh, Amethi recorded a voter turnout of 54.15%, while Lucknow had 52.03% and Rae Bareli had 57.85%. There was no violence in the state, and about 250 complaints regarding slow voting and electronic voting machines (EVMs) were received by the Electoral Commission (EC).

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Repolling ordered in UP’s Farrukhabad after BJP leader’s son votes several times

The 17-year-old son of a BJP leader in Uttar Pradesh has been detained for allegedly casting votes multiple times during the fourth phase of polling in Farrukhabad seat on May 13, police said on Monday.

Repolling at the polling booth, where the alleged incident took place, will be held on May 25. A video of the purported incident, which has gone viral, was shared by Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav and senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on social media. It showed the teenager pressing the EVM button seven to eight times in front of the BJP candidate in the constituency, Mukesh Rajput.

The son of Khiriya Pamaran village head Anil Thakur allegedly cast votes about seven to eight times at booth number 343 under the Nayagaon police station limits. The teenager recorded the video of his act and uploaded it on social media.

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Baramulla headed for highest turnout in 40 years: EC

The Election Commission said that Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir was headed for its "highest" turnout in the last eight Lok Sabha elections with 54.21% polling recorded till 5 pm.

The constituency has 17,37,865 registered voters.

Polling took place in 2,103 polling stations across the Baramulla parliamentary constituency with live webcasting at the polling stations.  Voting started at 7 am across the constituency, with long queues of enthusiastic voters waiting to cast their vote, the EC said.

In 2019, the constituency recorded a turnout of 34.6%, whereas in 1989, it was at a mere 5.48%, the commission said. There are 22 candidates in the fray this time from the Baramulla seat.

National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah, People's Conference president Sajad Gani Lone and jailed head of the Awami Ittehad Party (AIP) Sheikh Abdul Rashid alias Engineer Rashid are among the key candidates in the contest.

Earlier, in the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha election, the Srinagar seat, covering the districts of Srinagar, Ganderbal, Pulwama, Budgam and Shopian partly, recorded a voter turnout of 38.49 per cent, its highest since 1996.

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47.5% voting in Mumbai till 5 pm as voters complain of long wait for casting ballot

A voting turnout of 47.52% was recorded till 5 pm across the six Lok Sabha constituencies in Mumbai on Monday amid complaints of slow polling process, non-functional EVMs and names missing from voter rolls.

The city has a total of 9,93,8621 registered voters while 116 candidates were in the fray in the six constituencies. The Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) at the polling booth in Hiranandani Complex area in Powai in North Central Mumbai constituency stopped functioning at 11.30 am, with actor-producer and Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aadesh Bandekar claiming that voters had to wait in line for two hours till the machine was replaced.

Besides Bandekar, actor Mukesh Rishi and filmmaker Kedar Shinde were among those who were in the queue at the booth. In Borivali, voters complained of names missing from the electoral list.

Mumbai Congress president Varsha Gaikwad, who is contesting from Mumbai North Central, said she was getting worrying reports from across Mumbai about people waiting for several hours in queues amid heat, and returning without casting their vote.

Many people said they had never waited this long to vote before and the complaints came especially from the areas where the Opposition's MVA coalition has a strong presence, she claimed. "I request the @ECISVEEP and @CEO_Maharashtra to immediately address these complaints and also take immediate measures to improve the pace of voting," she said on X while also demanding that the time for voting be increased by an hour.

Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray addressed a press conference and accused the ECI of delaying the poll process deliberately at the behest of the Narendra Modi government.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, however, said he first complained to the EC about the slow pace of voting in the city, and Thackeray was blaming the Modi government only because the opposition was staring at a defeat. Thackeray was preparing the ground to face the results on June 4, Fadnavis added.

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Biggest allegation I have faced is owning 250 pairs of clothes: PM Modi

Often the Opposition target for his sartorial choices, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the biggest allegation he faced in his political career was that he owned 250 pairs of clothes.

In an interview to PTI, Modi said the allegation was levelled by Congress leader and former Gujarat Chief Minister Amarsinh Chaudhary and tha was countered by him at a public meeting. "I asked the people whether they wanted a Chief Minister who stole Rs 250 crore or one who had 250 pairs of clothes. The people of Gujarat responded in one voice that a Chief Minister with 250 pairs of clothes will be fine," Modi said.

Recollecting the incident during his tenure as Gujarat chief minister, Modi said he accepted Chaudhary's accusations at a public meeting but asserted that the former Chief Minister had got his numbers wrong. "That day I had a public meeting, where I said that I accept this accusation, but either the zero (in 250) is wrong, or the number two is wrong. Still I accept the accusation," Modi said.

Recently, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took a swipe at Modi's sartorial choices claiming that he has been wearing expensive clothes while earning a salary of Rs 1.6 lakh per month.

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Lok Sabha elections: Over 57% voter turnout recorded in fifth phase

Long Read

Over 57% voter turnout was recorded on Monday in 49 constituencies in six states and two Union territories in the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha election. 

With this polling for 23 states and Union territories and 379 seats has been completed so far.

While Maharashtra recorded the lowest voter turnout at 48.88%, West Bengal recorded the highest polling percentage at 73. Among other states, Bihar recorded 52.55% turnout, Jammu and Kashmir 54.21%, Jharkhand 63%, Odisha 60.72%, Uttar Pradesh 57.43% and Ladakh 67.15%.

According to the figures made available by the Election Commission till 7 pm, the approximate polling percentage was at 57.38.

Although voting time was till 6 pm, people already in the queue by that time are allowed to vote. Jammu and Kashmir's Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency recorded a voter turnout of over 54%, already registering its highest polling percentage in almost four decades. 

The overall polling percentage of 54.21 this time is second only to the 58.84% turnout the constituency saw in 1984.

Scattered incidents of violence marred the polls in seven parliamentary constituencies of West Bengal where TMC and BJP workers clashed in various parts of Barrackpore, Bongaon, and Arambagh seats. The poll panel said it has received 1,036 complaints from political parties alleging EVM malfunctioning and agents being stopped from entering booths.

Clashes broke out between supporters of the TMC and BJP in the Khanakul area of the Arambagh constituency.

In neighbouring Hooghly constituency, BJP sitting MP and party candidate Locket Chatterjee faced protests from TMC activists led by TMC MLA Ashima Patra. Violence was also reported from various parts of the Howrah constituency.

In Bongaon constituency’s Gayeshpur area, local BJP leader Subir Biswas was allegedly beaten by TMC supporters outside a booth. He was later shifted to the hospital.

In the Kalyani area of the same constituency, Union Minister and BJP candidate Shantanu Thakur caught a person using the identity card of his rival TMC candidate Biswajit Das inside a polling booth. The person was later removed from the booth by central forces. TMC workers also staged protests in some areas following allegations that Central forces were assisting BJP workers for allegedly intimidating voters at some booths of Hooghly.

In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress claimed EVM malfunctioning and accused the BJP of not allowing people to cast votes in three booths in Bela Khara village in Rahi block.

In a post on X, the Uttar Pradesh unit of the Congress, said, "Booth number 5, Rasulpur in Sareni in Rae Bareli is closed since 8 am (and) voters are going back. So this is how (the target of) 400 (seats) will be crossed!" Samajwadi Party candidate from Gonda constituency Shreya Verma complained to the Election Commission that fair polling is not taking place at booth numbers 180 and 181 in the Mankapur area.

According to reports from Kaushambi, voters of Hisampur Madho village boycotted the polls.

The villagers told the officials that they would consider voting only after the administration assured them that a road and railway bridge connecting the village to other areas would be built. In Maharashtra, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray claimed there were a lot of complaints from electors about facilities outside polling booths.

BJP leader Kirit Somaiya alleged that Shiv Sena (UBT) leaders Sanjay Raut and Sunil Raut were found involved in "corrupt practices" outside their polling booth at Bhandup in Mumbai.

The former MP also claimed that two activists of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) were arrested for "illegal and corrupt practices of using a fake EVM". However, MLA Sunil Raut, who is the brother of Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut, dismissed the allegations saying a dummy electronic voting machine (EVM) was kept outside the 100-metre radius of the polling booth for educational purposes.

Still, the police removed it under "political pressure", he claimed. In Odisha, some unidentified persons allegedly hacked an auto-rickshaw driver to death near Sarsara in Bargarh district. The deceased was carrying some voters to the polling booth. While the family members claimed it was a political murder, police say personal enmity is the reason behind the crime.

EVM glitches were also reported at some places in Odisha

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Voting process delayed deliberately in Mumbai at Central government’s behest, alleges Uddhav

Shiv Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray alleged on Monday afternoon that voting was delayed at several places in Mumbai.

Delay was taking place at the polling booths in areas where his party expects more votes, he said at a press conference while urging electors to stand in queues as long as early morning if the process was slow. As per poll officials, a voter turnout of 48.66% was recorded till 5 pm in 13 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra where the fifth and final phase of general elections was taking place.

In Mumbai, polling is taking place across all six Lok Sabha constituencies.

“Dirty games are being played through the Election Commission. There is a lot of enthusiasm among voters, but the Election Commission is acting in a partisan manner. There is a delay by EC's representatives in certain areas,” Thackeray alleged. Officials were cross-checking names several times, and women and senior citizens were facing problems at polling booths, the former Maharashtra chief minister said.

There was no drinking water at many places, he claimed.

“The Modi government is using the EC as its handmaiden due to its fear of losing. This is a ploy of the Modi government to ensure that voting against it is minimized,” Thackeray alleged. There was no incident of crowding outside polling stations in Mumbai city district due to slow voting process, said Mumbai city collector Sanjay Yadav.

In the morning, voters in large numbers assembled outside booths in Sewri, Sion Koliwada and one more place, but additional manpower was used to clear the rush and the polling process was conducted swiftly, the senior bureaucrat said.

“We were monitoring the situation at polling stations with the help of over 2,500 web cameras, and arrangements were being made accordingly,” he said. Voters who are at polling centres before or at 6 pm, will be allowed to cast their ballot, he said.

Mumbai Suburban District Collector Rajendra Kshirsagar said though there were long queues of electors at some booths, everyone who arrived before the closing of polling time will be allowed to cast their vote.

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Name not on list, Mamata Banerjee’s brother fails to cast vote

West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee's youngest brother Babun Banerjee on Monday could not cast his vote after his name was not found in the voters’ list, an election official said.

Babun, who is a voter of Howrah town, went to cast vote at a polling booth when it was discovered that his name was not on the list.

“The Election Commission of India is looking into the whole matter. Only it can explain why this happened,” Trinamool Congress spokesperson Shantanu Sen said. When contacted by PTI, Babun declined to take questions on the matter.

Babun had expressed his displeasure after TMC renominated sitting MP Prasun Banerjee for the Howrah Lok Sabha seat in March. Mamata Banerjee had then said she decided to disown him and cut off relationship with him.

There was a buzz earlier that Babun would contest as an independent candidate from that constituency after the TMC did not nominate him from there. He had claimed that the party promised him a ticket. There was a rumour that Babun was contemplating joining the BJP.

Babun is the president of the Bengal Olympic Association and Bengal Hockey Association, besides the secretary of the Bengal Boxing Association, and also in charge of the sports wing of the TMC.

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Graffiti targeting Arvind Kejriwal appear in several metro trains

The Delhi Police has started a probe into the graffiti found written inside the metro trains and on stations bearing Aam Aadmi Party national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s name, an officer said on Monday.

The AAP has attributed the act of vandalism to the BJP, which, it said, wanted to threaten Kejriwal through the graffiti. According to a police officer, pictures of certain messages written inside metro trains and stations were shared through an Instagram account ‘ankit.goel_91’.

One of the graffiti scribbled inside a metro train read, “Kejriwal Dilli Chhor Dijiye. Please. Otherwise you will have to remember three slaps, which you planted (sic) before the election. Now the real and actual punch/slap will be there soon. Today's meeting at Jhandewalan.... Ankit.Goel_91”

Another message read: “#CM Delhi leave us, we don't need freebies anymore. #45 Crore on CM Awas.” A third and longer graffito in another metro train, read, “Following are points you are advised to follow... Jal Board Transparent audit and fix the responsibility of the person person/leaders concerned, your final say on liquor policy and the kickback received by your leaders or party as a whole and Mr Raghav Chaddha actual eye treatment in AIIMS or Safdarjung or any Indian hospital of your choice. There are the final expectations from the #AAP.” Similar messages were found written at at least three metro stations - Patel Nagar, Ramesh Nagar, and Rajiv Chowk -, another officer said, adding, police have taken cognisance of the vandalism and started a probe.

A case under proper sections will be registered at the concerned metro police station, he said.

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Fifth phase Lok Sabha polls: Voter turnout over 47 per cent till 3 pm

Over 47 percent of voter turnout was reported across 49 constituencies spanning six states and two Union Territories by 3 pm on Monday in the fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections.

However, sporadic incidents of violence in West Bengal and a poll boycott in a village in Uttar Pradesh marked the day. Additionally, some booths in Odisha and West Bengal reported EVM glitches. While Maharashtra recorded the lowest voter turnout till 3 pm with 38.77 per cent voters exercising their franchise, West Bengal recorded the highest voting percentage of 62.72.

Among other states Bihar recorded 45.33 cent turnout, Jammu and Kashmir 44.90 per cent, Jharkhand 53.90 per cent, Odisha 48.95 per cent, Uttar Pradesh 47.55 per cent and Ladakh 61.26.

According to the Election Commission, the approximate polling percentage recorded at 3 pm was 47.53. Scattered incidents of violence marred the polls in seven parliamentary constituencies of West Bengal where TMC and BJP workers clashed in various parts of Barrackpore, Bongaon, and Arambagh seats.

In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress claimed EVM malfunctioning and accused the BJP of not allowing people to cast votes in three booths in Bela Khara village in Rahi block. Over 8.95 crore people, including 4.26 crore females and 5,409 third-gender electors, are eligible to vote in this round and 9.47 lakh polling officials have been deployed across 94,732 polling stations.

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Fadnavis urges EC to look into complaints of slow voting in Mumbai

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday said he has requested the Election Commission of India to look into complaints of slow pace of voting in Mumbai.

Polling was underway from 7 am in 13 Lok Sabha constituencies in Maharashtra, including six in Mumbai, and will continue till 6 pm. Till 1 pm, Mumbai North seat witnessed 26.78% polling, Mumbai North Central 28.05%, Mumbai North East 28.82%, Mumbai North West 28.41%, Mumbai South 24.46% and Mumbai South Central 27.21%, as per official data. Fadnavis in a statement said, "I have requested the EC to look into the complaints of slow pace of voting in Mumbai. There have been several complaints of the overall polling pace being very slow."

The BJP leader also asked the EC officials to discuss the matter with the collectors of Mumbai City and Mumbai Suburban District and ensure voters do not face any problem due to the slow pace of voting at the booths.

A number of politicians, industrialists and film personalities stepped out to cast their vote in Mumbai since the early hours of polling.

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BJP worker’s son arrested after video shows him casting eight votes in UP

A BJP worker’s teenage son was arrested after a video showed him voting for the BJP eight times in Uttar Pradesh’s Farrukhabad Lok Sabha constituency.

The video, shared by Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, showed Rajan Singh Thakur recording himself while allegedly casting votes several times in a series of instances. The boy’s father claims that the video misrepresented his son.

“He [Rajan Singh Thakur] was actually voting on the machine when it was being tested in some instances…In others, he was voting on behalf of mentally and physically disabled voters in the village. That part has been edited,” Rajan’s father, Anil Singh Thakur told Scroll.

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BJP holds meeting in Delhi as polling underway for fifth phase

A meeting of senior BJP leaders, presided over party president J P Nadda, was underway in the national capital at the party headquarters on Monday.

The meeting is learnt to have been called to review the party’s performance so far in the election, which is in its fifth phase, and devise strategy for the remaining phases.

BJP national general secretary (organisation) B L Santhosh, national general secretaries Arun Singh, Tarun Chugh, party IT department head Amit Malviya, national media in-charge Anil Baluni, and Union minister Ashwini Vaishnaw were among those who were in the meeting.

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'Not against any institution': Mamata praises RKM, Bharat Sevashram amid row

Praising the Ramakrishna Mission or Bharat Sevashram Sangha for their philanthropic works, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on Monday said she was not against any institution but criticised one or two persons for indulging in politics.

Banerjee had on Saturday alleged that some monks of the two monastic orders were working "under instructions of the BJP". The statement drew sharp criticism from PM Narendra Modi who alleged that she was "under pressure from Muslim extremists" and was threatening these socio-religious organisations to "appease" the TMC's vote bank. Addressing an election rally in Bankura's Onda, Banerjee said, "I am not against Ramakrishna Mission, why should I be against an institution or insult it."

"I have spoken about one or two persons," she added.

The chief minister also praised Bharat Sevashram Sangha, saying that it works for the people. "I had spoken about Kartik Maharaj, he did not allow Trinamool Congress agent to sit (at a polling booth) in Rejinagar," Banerjee said.

Claiming that the Bharat Sevashram Sangha monk from Murshidabad district was working for the BJP, she accused him of instigating people when clashes between two groups happened at Rejinagar.

"If he wants to do BJP, he can, but should do it wearing its badge," she said.

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Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Akshay Kumar and other celebs vote in Mumbai

Popular Hindi cinema stars Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Akshay Kumar, Farhan Akhtar and Tabu were among the celebrities who stepped out to exercise their right to vote for Lok Sabha Election 2024 in Mumbai on Monday.

While Ranveer and Deepika cast their votes at a polling booth in Bandra, Dhawan and Kapoor took to their social media accounts to encourage others to vote.

Kumar, who voted for the first time since receiving Indian citizenship, was one of the early voters. Akthar, who queued up at a polling station in Bandra West to cast his vote, told PTI: “My vote is for good governance, the government that looks after all people, gives us a better city.”

Tabu was also seen showing her inked finger to the paparazzi.

Filmmaker Zoya Aktar and mother Honey Irani also accompanied Farhan to cast their votes. Actor Hema Malini, who's BJP candidate from Mathura Lok Sabha constituency, said she is hopeful that voters' turnout will be good.

Other Bollywood celebrities, who have voted so far, include Sanya Malhotra, Govinda, Manoj Bajpayee, Anil Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, filmmakers Ashutosh Gowariker, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Subhash Ghai, noted poet and lyricist Gulzar, his filmmaker daughter Meghna Gulzar, Aamir Khan’s children Ira Khan and Junaid Khan. Veteran actor Paresh Rawal said, “Everyone should cast their vote no matter if it's hot or cold. You are voting for the country and India’s growth.”

Anil Kapoor said it his “duty and right” to vote.

Actor-filmmaker Pooja Bhatt, who along with her filmmaker father Mahesh Bhatt came to vote, also urged others to vote. Filmmaker Kunal Kohli, who cast his vote in Pali Hill, Bandra West, Mumbai, appealed to people to vote.

Actor Shriya Saran said voting is the easiest thing to do.

Veteran actor Shubha Khote and her actor daughter Bhavana Balsavar also cast their votes.

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Lot of complaints from voters about facilities outside polling booths: Aaditya Thackeray

Amid voting underway in 13 Lok Sabha constituencies in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray on Monday claimed there were lot of complaints from electors about facilities outside the polling booths.

Voters were trying to beat the heat and exercise their franchise in large numbers, the former state minister said, adding that electors should at least be made to queue up in shade and provided fans. Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aadesh Bandekar claimed the electronic voting machines (EVMs) were not working at a polling booth in Powai are of Mumbai due to which people had to wait for two hours.

Due to the glitch, some senior citizens left without voting, Bandekar claimed in a post on Instagram.

Polling was underway since 7 am in 13 Lok Sabha constituencies of Maharashtra, including six in Mumbai, and will continue till 6 pm. "A lot of complaints from voters about the facilities outside the booths @ECISVEEP Atleast having the voter lines in shade/ fans could help. They don't want much, just basics to stay cool. Please look into it," Thackeray said in a post on X.

Some of the electors in Mumbai said they went to the polling booths early in the morning to beat the heat.

Altogether 2.46 crore persons are eligible to cast vote to decide the fate of 264 candidates in the 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

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Never spoken against minorities, but will not accept any ‘special citizens’: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said he has never uttered a word against minorities, and the BJP has “not just today but never” acted against them. He, however, made it clear that he is not ready to accept anyone as "special citizens".

The comments in an interview to PTI Videos late Sunday is Modi’s most unequivocal on minorities amid an outcry from the opposition that his election speeches are communally divisive and polarising. He also said the Congress has constantly violated the secular spirit of the Constitution, and that his campaign speeches are aimed at exposing the opposition parties’ bid to appease minorities with vote bank politics.

In the interview, he was asked what he has to say about the apprehension among minorities because of his statements. “I have not spoken a word against minorities. I am only talking against the vote bank politics of Congress. Congress is working against the Constitution, that’s what I have been saying," he replied. Modi said the makers of India’s Constitution, including B R Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru, had decided there will be no reservations on the basis of religion. "Now you are turning away from that. It is my responsibility to expose them. At that time there were no members of my party in the Constituent Assembly. It was an assembly of eminent people from across the country."

He was again asked if he has never meant to target the minorities in his election speeches, to which he said, “BJP has never been against minorities. Not just today but never.” He then added that the Congress follows the path of appeasement. “I follow the path of satisfaction. (Woh log tushtikaran ke raastey pe chaltey hain, main santushtikaran ke raastey pe chalta hoon). Their politics is that of appeasement. My politics is that of ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’. We believe in ‘sarva dharma sambhav’. We want to take everyone along with us. We are not ready to accept anyone as special citizens but consider everyone equal,” the prime minister said.

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Country witnessing storm of change: Rahul Gandhi

As polling began in 49 constituencies for the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday said it has become clear that people have stood up to protect the Constitution and democracy and the country is witnessing a storm of change.

Voting is being held in 49 constituencies in six states and two union territories in the fifth phase, which will decide the electoral fate of several prominent leaders like Gandhi, Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah. In a post in Hindi on X, Gandhi said, "Today is the fifth phase of voting! In the first four phases itself, it has become clear that people have stood up to protect the Constitution and democracy and are defeating the BJP."

"This country is fed up with the politics of hatred and is now voting on its own issues. Youths for jobs, farmers for MSP and freedom from debt, women for economic independence and security, and labourers for fair wages. "The people are fighting this election along with INDIA (bloc) and there is a storm of change in the country," the former Congress president said.

"I am appealing to the entire country, including Amethi and Rae Bareli, come out and vote in large numbers for the prosperity of your families, for your own rights and for the progress of India," Gandhi said.

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Your one vote will protect democracy, Constitution: Priyanka Gandhi to people

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Monday urged people to cast their ballot in the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha polls, stressing that their vote will free the country from inflation, unemployment and economic crisis.

Voting is being held in 49 constituencies in six states and two union territories in the fifth phase, which will decide the electoral fate of several prominent leaders like former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah. In a post in Hindi on X, Priyanka Gandhi said, "With your one vote, Rs 1 lakh will come into the account of a woman from every poor family annually, every citizen will get the facility of free treatment worth Rs 25 lakh, the youth will get 30 lakh government jobs, the youth will get apprenticeship worth (Rs) 1 lakh annually, and SC/ST/OBC will get proper participation." "Your one vote will protect democracy and the Constitution of the country," the Congress general secretary said.She appealed to the people of the country to vote in maximum numbers.

"Your one vote will free the country from inflation, unemployment and economic crisis and will strengthen the country," Priyanka Gandhi said.

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Vote for love not hate: Kharge to people as fifth phase of Lok Sabha polls begin

As polling began in 49 constituencies for the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday urged people to vote for love and not hatred and cast their ballot against unemployment and inflation.

Voting is being held in 49 constituencies in six states and two union territories in the fifth phase, which will decide the electoral fate of several prominent leaders like former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah. In a post in Hindi on X, Kharge said, "If we want to protect democracy and the Constitution, we must vote. Before pressing the button on EVM, remember that we should vote for love and brotherhood, not for hatred."

"We have to vote against unemployment and inflation, not to make a few capitalists richer. We have to vote for the protection of our fundamental rights, not for those who snatch our rights," the Congress president said.

He urged the people to vote for justice, not for injustice and oppression. "Vote for democracy, not for dictatorship. The voters of the eight states and union territories who will exercise their right to vote today on 49 Lok Sabha seats will vote on the agenda of Yuva Nyay, Naari Nyay, Kisaan Nyay, Shramik Nyay and Hissedari Nyay.

"When your hand presses the EVM button, the already-unstable chair of dictatorship will suffer another setback and democracy will gain strength," Kharge said. He also welcomed those voting for the first time, asserting that theirs is a historical responsibility.

"The trends of the four phases show that the departure of 'Hukmshah' is certain. Today is the fifth step towards farewell," the Congress president said.

A new beginning will be made from June 4, he said.

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Will ensure full statehood for Delhi when I.N.D.I.A bloc forms government: Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday claimed the BJP is rattled by the fact that the I.N.D.I.A bloc would form government at the Centre after the ongoing Lok Sabha polls and the AAP, a constituent of the alliance, would ensure full statehood for the national capital.

Addressing poll meetings in South Delhi parliamentary constituency, Kejriwal alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is sending opposition leaders to jail and asked the crowd, "Have we chosen a PM or thanedaar?" Seeking support for AAP candidate Sahi Ram Pahalwan, the AAP chief addressed six poll meetings in Badarpur Sabzi Mandi, Tughlakabad, Kalkaji, Sangam Vihar, Ambedkar Nagar, and  Chhatarpur. 

Addressing the crowd from atop a car, he pointed towards the prime minister's alleged opposition to free bus travel for women in Delhi in a TV interview, stating that amidst rising inflation, the PM should extend this benefit nationwide. The AAP supremo affirmed that on June 4, the I.N.D.I.A bloc government will be formed, and the AAP will also be a part of the government. "On behalf of the people of Delhi, I will make only one demand that Delhi should get the status of a full state.”

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Congress didn't revoke Article 370 for appeasement politics: Amit Shah in Haryana

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday attacked the Congress, saying the party did not revoke Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir for appeasement politics.

Addressing an election rally in Karnal, Shah reiterated that Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) belongs to India and "we will take it back". The senior BJP leader also attacked the grand old party on the Ram temple issue, saying top Congress leaders such as Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi did not take part in the temple's consecration ceremony to please its minority vote bank.

Targeting Congress on Kashmir, he said "For appeasement politics, they did not revoke Article 370."

The Congress did not revoke the article despite a rise in terrorism in the area, he said. "You all made Narendra Modi ji the Prime Minister for the second time, and on August 5, 2019, he scrapped the Article 370. And now our tricolour proudly flutters in Kashmir," he said.

Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini, who is contesting the Karnal assembly bypoll and former chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who is in fray for the Karnal Lok Sabha seat, were also present.

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Scattered incidents of violence in fifth phase of Lok Sabha polls in Bengal

Scattered incidents of violence marred the fifth phase of Lok Sabha polls in seven parliamentary constituencies in West Bengal on Monday, as TMC and BJP workers clashed in various parts of Barrackpore, Bongaon, and Arambagh seats.

Although the poll panel has claimed that the polling has been peaceful so far, it said it has received 1,036 complaints until 11 am from political parties alleging EVM malfunctioning and agents being stopped from entering booths. Clashes broke out between supporters of TMC and BJP in Khanakul area of Arambagh constituency as both parties clashed over stopping polling agents from entering the booths.

Two live crude bombs were also recovered from the area by security personnel.

“BJP goons have unleashed a reign of terror in the area and are intimidating voters,” TMC candidate Mitali Bag said. BJP candidate Arup Kanti Digar rubbished the allegations and blamed the TMC for letting loose violence on the day of the polls.

In neighbouring Hooghly constituency, BJP sitting MP and party candidate Locket Chatterjee faced protests from TMC activists led by TMC MLA Ashima Patra.

As Chatterjee was on her way to a booth, TMC activists staged protests and shouted “Chor Chor (thief thief) slogans”. Following which, the BJP MP got down from her car and shouted counter slogans.

A huge police and central forces contingent rushed to the spot and stopped the two groups.

Sporadic incidents of violence were reported from various parts of Howrah constituency. In the Liluah area of Howrah, the BJP accused TMC workers of booth jamming leading to clashes between both groups.

The central police forces rushed to the area and dispersed the mob.

In Bongaon constituency’s Gayeshpur area, local BJP leader Subir Biswas was allegedly beaten by TMC goons outside a booth. He was later shifted to hospital. In the Kalyani area of the same constituency, Union Minister and BJP candidate Shantanu Thakur caught a person using the identity card of his rival TMC candidate Biswajit Das inside a polling booth.

The person was later removed from the booth by central forces.

In some areas, TMC workers staged protests following allegations that central forces were assisting BJP workers in intimidating voters at some booths of Hooghly.

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Fifth phase: Voting underway in 49 LS seats, 23.66% turnout in first four hours

An approximate voter turnout of 23.66% was recorded in the first four hours of polling on Monday in 49 constituencies in six states and two Union Territories in the fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections amid reports of EVM glitches in some places and poll boycott in a village of Uttar Pradesh.

While Maharashtra recorded the lowest voter turnout till 11 am with 15.93% voters exercising their franchise, West Bengal recorded the highest voting percentage with 32.70%.

Among other states Bihar recorded 21.11% turnout, Jammu and Kashmir 21.37%, Jharkhand 26.18%, Ladakh 27.87%, Odisha 21.097% and Uttar Pradesh 27.76%. In Uttar Pradesh, Amethi recorded a voter turnout of 27.20% till 11 am, and Rae Bareli 28.10%.

Samajwadi Party candidate from Gonda parliamentary constituency, Shreya Verma, has complained to the Election Commission that fair polling is not taking place at two booths in Mankapur area in Gonda.

The Uttar Pradesh unit of Congress said on X that “Booth number 5 Rasulpur in Sareni in Rae Bareli is closed since 8.00 am. Voters are going back, this is how it will be 400-paar (cross 400 seats). Apart from this, the Congress in its various posts on X complained of EVM malfunctioning and accused the BJP of not allowing people to cast votes in three booths in Bela Khara village in Rae Bareli district.

According to reports from Kaushambi, voters of Hisampur Madho village boycotted voting.

Angry villagers say they will consider voting only after getting an assurance from the administration that a road and railway bridge will be built in their area. Voting was progressing peacefully in West Bengal where the Election Commission removed a BSF jawan from poll duty in Uluberia Lok Sabha constituency following a complaint of molestation against him, an official said.

A woman lodged the molestation complaint at Uluberia Police Station on Sunday evening, he said.

“We have removed him from election duty. We are waiting for the police report. If found guilty, necessary action will be taken as per law,” the poll panel official told PTI. The Chief Electoral Office (CEO), West Bengal, said it has so far received 1,053 poll-related complaints.

In Odisha, officials said EVM glitches were reported from Sundergarh Lok Sabha constituency and were addressed immediately.

The defects in EVMs were identified during the mock poll ahead of voting and replaced within 30 minutes. Officials said that a woman polling official fainted in a booth under the Sundergarh Lok Sabha seat.

In Maharashtra, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray claimed there were a lot of complaints from electors about facilities outside polling booths.

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15.93% turnout till 11 am in Maharashtra

A voter turnout of 15.93% was recorded till 11 am on Monday in 13 Lok Sabha constituencies in Maharashtra as voting was underway for the fifth and final phase of general elections in the state, as per poll authorities.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde voted along with his family members at a booth in Thane, which is his political turf. Among the 13 constituencies, Bhiwandi recorded 14.79% polling, Dhule 17.38%, Dindori 19.50%, Kalyan 11.46%, Mumbai North 14.71%, Mumbai North Central 15.73%, Mumbai North East 17.01%, Mumbai North West 17.53%, Mumbai South 12.75%, Mumbai South Central 16.69%, Nashik 16.30%, Palghar 18.60% and Thane 14.86%.

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader and former CM Uddhav Thackeray and his wife Rashmi Thackeray exercised their franchise at a polling booth in Bandra area of Mumbai. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray and his wife Sharmila Thackeray voted at a booth in Mumbai's Dadar area.

Shiv Sena MP Milind Deora exercised his franchise at a polling booth in south Mumbai.

Polling booths in many parts of Mumbai saw a good turnout, with prominent persons including Union minister Piyush Goyal, industrialist Anil Ambani and actor Akshay Kumar exercising their franchise in the early hours of voting. The early voters also included Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran, Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das, former Uttar Pradesh governor Ram Naik, actor Janhvi Kapoor, actor-filmmaker Farhan Akhtar and Marathi theatre actor Prashant Damle.

Film personalities Anupam Kher, Anil Kapoor, Ashok Saraf, Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar also cast their votes in Mumbai. Voters queued up in large numbers at the polling booths before 7 am with some saying they wanted to avoid the heat later in the day.

In Thane city, there was malfunctioning of EVMs at a couple of booths, but the problem was rectified promptly, district poll officials said.

A voter in Mumbai’s Vile Parle area said, “I decided to vote early to avoid the heat.” “I wanted to vote and then leave for work,” another elector said. A voter in Bhandup suburb of Mumbai claimed the enthusiasm among electors shows they want a change.

Shiv Sena's candidate from Mumbai North West seat Ravindra Waikar, Shiv Sena’s Mumbai South Central seat nominee Rahul Shewale and his Shiv Sena (UBT) rival Anil Desai cast their votes early in the morning.

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BJP to score big in South, NDA will cross 400, says Modi in unwavering confidence for Lok Sabha results

BhubanesPrime Minister Narendra Modi has asserted that the BJP will emerge as the single largest party in the south, as he remained unwaveringly confident that his NDA alliance will cross 400 seats in Lok Sabha when election results come out on June 4.

“Our strategy for the entire nation is the same. Phir ek baar modi sarkar. Aur chaar June 400 paar,” Modi said in an interview to PTI Videos on Sunday night. Modi said his opponents have created a myth that the BJP has no strength or presence in the southern states.

“Look at 2019 elections. The largest party even then in the south was BJP. Again, I say this: the largest party in the south this time will be BJP, and its allies will add more (seats) to it,” he said.

In a separate written reply to questions submitted by PTI, Modi said “we will be the single largest party in Southern India and by an even bigger margin than the last time.” “We have seen a jump in mind-share already. We will see a big jump in seat share and vote share for us across the region,” he wrote.

Southern India accounts for 131 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats. In the outgoing House, BJP has 29 members besides one independent backed by it, from Karnataka.

Even in eastern India, “we are witnessing a massive surge of support from the people … which is giving sleepless nights to people in sections of the media and politics in Bhubaneswar, Kolkata and even in Delhi,” he wrote. “The blessings of the people will take us to a record-breaking mandate. We will see more seats from all parts of the country, particularly from the south and the east," he said in the written reply.

“NDA is on course to achieve the 400 seats,” he wrote.

“All assessments of the past phases of the elections show that the NDA is in pole position and the Congress along with its I.N.D.I alliance is struggling to even open its account in some states.” In the video interview, Modi said the BJP has been a truly national party “from Day 1, not only in our geographical presence but also in our ideology.”

“For us, nation first is the foundation of our ideology. If we take decisions for Bengal or Kerala it will be on the basis of nation first,” he said.

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Fifth phase: Voting underway in 49 LS seats, 10.28% turnout in first two hours

An approximate voter turnout of 10.28% was recorded in the first two hours of polling on Monday in 49 constituencies in six states and two Union Territories in the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

While Maharashtra recorded the lowest voter turnout till 9 am with 6.33% voters exercising their franchise, West Bengal recorded the highest voting percentage with 15.35%.

Among the other states Bihar recorded 8.86 per cent turnout, Jammu and Kashmir 7.63%, Jharkhand 11.68%, Ladakh 10.51%, Odisha 6.87% and Uttar Pradesh 12.89%. Prominent early voters were Reserve Bank Governor Shaktikanta Das, BSP chief Mayawati, Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran, Union minister Piyush Goyal and industrialist Anil Ambani.

“I urge all the voters to vote…this is a right in our parliamentary democracy and everyone should exercise it,” Das told PTI after casting his vote at a polling centre near his official residence in south Mumbai.

Polling booths in many parts of Mumbai saw a good turnout. Bollywood stars Akshay Kumar, Farhan Akhtar, Rajkummar Rao and Jahnvi Kapoor were also among the early voters in Mumbai.

“I want my India to be developed and strong and I kept these things in my mind when I went to cast my vote. All Indians should think what is right for them and vote,” Kumar said after casting his vote at a polling station in Juhu.

Akthar, while standing in a queue at a polling station in Bandra West to cast his vote, told PTI, “My vote is for good governance, the government that looks after all the people, gives us a better city.” Today's poll will decide the fate of several prominent leaders like former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani and former J-K chief minister Omar Abdullah.

Over 8.95 crore people, including 4.26 crore females and 5,409 third-gender electors, are eligible to vote in this round and 9.47 lakh polling officials have been deployed across 94,732 polling stations. Among the seats going to polls, 13 are in Maharashtra, 14 in Uttar Pradesh, seven in West Bengal, five in Bihar, three in Jharkhand, five in Odisha, one in J-K and the lone seat in Ladakh. This round covers the least number of seats (49) in the seven-phase polls.

Voting is also being held in 35 assembly constituencies in Odisha, where BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is among the candidates.

Polling for 23 states and Union territories and 379 seats has been completed so far. The sixth and seventh phases are on May 25 and June 1 respectively. The counting of votes is on June 4.

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Odisha: PM Modi offers prayers at Jagannath temple in Puri, leads roadshow

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered prayers at the Jagannath temple in Puri on Monday morning, and led a roadshow here to canvass support for candidates of the BJP.

He led the roadshow from Marichkote square to Medical square on Grand Road in Puri. The PM was accompanied by state BJP president Manmohan Samal, the party’s MP candidate Sambit Patra and Puri MLA nominee Jayanta Sarangi.

Thousands of people lined up on both sides of the barricaded stretch on Grand Road, waving at the prime minister, holding the lotus symbol. Elaborate security arrangements were in place for the roadshow, police said.

After the roadshow, Modi will leave in a helicopter for Angul, where he is scheduled to address a public meeting. The PM will then arrive in Cuttack for another poll rally.

The second phase of polling for five Lok Sabha constituencies and 35 assembly seats in Odisha began amid tight security on Monday.

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EC removes BSF personnel from election duty after 'molestation' complaint

The Election Commission on Monday removed a BSF personnel from poll duty in Uluberia Lok Sabha constituency, in West Bengal, following a complaint of molestation against him, an official said.

A woman lodged the molestation complaint at Uluberia Police Station on Sunday evening, he said.

“We have removed him from election duty. We are waiting for the police report. If found guilty, necessary action will be taken as per law,” the poll panel official told PTI. Voting for the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha polls commenced across seven parliamentary constituencies of West Bengal amid tight security on Monday.

The Election Commission has designated over 57% of the polling stations as sensitive, and deployed over 60,000 personnel of central forces, in addition to around 30,000 policemen.

The number of security forces deployed for this phase surpasses that of any of the earlier four phases in the state, the official added.

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Google Doodle celebrates 5th phase of Lok Sabha polls in India

Google on Monday marked the ongoing Lok Sabha polls In India by replacing their iconic logo on their homepage with a doodle featuring an index finger marked with ink, a symbol of voting in the country.

The doodle, on being clicked upon, takes the readers to search  results, which give out the latest news and information on the ongoing Parliamentary elections. This move by the tech giant is being seen as it underlining the significance of elections in the world’s largest democracy and also to encourage people to exercise their franchise.

The fifth phase of the elections are going on today with 49 constituencies spread across eight states and Union Territories.

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Lok Sabha elections: Voting in 49 Lok Sabha constituencies begins in Phase 5

Forty nine constituencies across eight states and Union Territories have begun voting in the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections today. In Odisha, 35 state assembly constituencies are also voting in this phase. 

This includes 14 seats in UP, 13 in Maharashtra, seven seats in West Bengal, five seats each in Odisha and Bihar, three in Jharkhand and one each in J&K and Ladakh. Of the 49 Lok Sabha seats up for grabs in this phase, the BJP alone had won 32 in 2019. The undivided Shiv Sena, which was with the BJP then, had won seven and the JD(U) and LJP one each. So, the then NDA had won 41 of these 49 seats.

The Congress had won just one seat — Sonia Gandhi in Raebareli — while its allies had five others — 4 with the Trinamool Congress and 1 with the National Conference). The BJD had won two seats. This round of elections is particularly crucial for the Congress as it is trying to regain the Amethi constituency from the BJP and retain Raebareli, where Rahul Gandhi is in the fray. 

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Uttar Pradesh: Rae Bareli, Amethi among 14 seats going to polls today

Voting for the fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh will take place today, deciding the fate of five Union ministers, including Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani, and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

The seats going to polls include Mohanlalganj (SC), Rae Bareli, Amethi, Jalaun (SC), Jhansi, Hamirpur, Banda, Fatehpur, Kaushambi (SC), Barabanki (SC), Faizabad, Kaisarganj, and Gonda. Over 2.68 crore voters are eligible to vote, with 144 candidates in the fray. The Congress has fielded K L Sharma from Amethi, Tanuj Punia from Barabanki, and Pradeep Jain 'Aditya' from Jhansi. The Samajwadi Party (SP) candidates are in the poll fray for the remaining seats.

Rahul Gandhi is in the fray from Rae Bareli, represented by his mother and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Defence Minister Singh is aiming for a fourth term from Lucknow, while Irani is in the poll fray from Amethi.

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Punjab: Keen battle on cards in Khadoor Sahib seat as jailed preacher Amritpal enters poll fray

The election for the Khadoor Sahib constituency in Punjab, a Sikh majority parliamentary constituency, is set to take place on June 1, marking the last phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

Amritpal Singh, the chief of the 'Waris Punjab De' outfit, has entered the race as an Independent candidate. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SDA) has fielded former MLA Virsa Singh Valtoha, while transport minister Laljit Singh Bhullar is the candidate of the Aaam Aadmi Party (AAP). The Congress and the BJP have nominated former MLA Kulbir Singh Zira and Manjit Singh Mianwind, respectively. The Khadoor Sahib constituency, known as a 'Panthic' seat, has voters from all three regions and nine assembly segments. The AAP holds seven assembly segments, while the Congress and BJP hold one each.

The Shiromani Akali Dal candidates Rattan Singh Ajnala and Ranjit Singh Brahmpura won the Khadoor Sahib seat in the 2009 and 2014 general assembly elections. 

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Maneka Gandhi eyes bigger victory margin in Sultanpur

Seeking a second term from Sultanpur, BJP leader Maneka Gandhi on Sunday said her focus is on local issues and asserted that her victory margin will be bigger this time.

Maneka Gandhi, who had won from Sultanpur in 2019 by a margin of 14,000 votes, said, "This time my victory margin will be bigger". She also said that people of her constituency are happy about the Ram temple in Ayodhya but "it is not an issue in the polls here."

The BJP leader is pitted against SP's Ram Bhual Nishad, while the BSP has fielded Udraj Verma, an OBC.

Sultanpur will go to polls in the sixth phase on May 25.

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Lok Sabha fifth phase: Mumbai set to vote today

Mumbaikars are set to vote in the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha election today. Mumbai holds six out of 48 seats in Maharashtra, including Mumbai North, Mumbai North East, Mumbai North West, Mumbai North Central, Mumbai South, and Mumbai South Central.

The BJP won the Mumbai North, Mumbai North East, and Mumbai North Central seats in the 2019 polls, while the remaining three seats were won by the Shiv Sena. The Sena has now split into Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde-led and Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray (UBT) groups, while the Nationalist Congress Party has factions led by Ajit Pawar and Sharad Pawar.

Maharashtra is witnessing a close contest between the Mahayuti coalition and the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance. In Mumbai North, BJP announced Union Minister Piyush Goyal's candidature, while Congress candidate Bhushan Patil faces Congress candidate Bhushan Patil.

In Mumbai South, two-time MP and Sena UBT leader Arvind Sawant aims for a hat-trick against Shiv Sena's Byculla MLA Yamini Yashwant Jadhav.

In Mumbai north-central, Congress's Mumbai unit chief Varsha Gaikwad faces senior criminal lawyer Ujjwal Nikam, who handled high-profile cases such as the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.

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