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Voting begins in fourth phase of Lok Sabha election, Andhra and Odisha state polls

 Voting began at 7 a.m. on Monday in 96 Lok Sabha constituencies in 10 states and a UT, spanning the length and breadth of the country from Jammu and Kashmir to Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra to West Bengal, in the fourth phase of the elections.

Along with the parliamentary seats, elections are also being held simultaneously to the Assemblies of Andhra Pradesh (all 175 seats), and Odisha (28 seats out of 147).

Voting will be held in Uttar Pradesh (13 seats), Bihar (5), West Bengal (8), Maharashtra (11), Madhya Pradesh (8), and Jammu and Kashmir (1), while the electoral process now kicks off in Andhra Pradesh (all 25 seats), Telangana (all 17), Odisha (4), and Jharkhand (4).

A total of 17.7 crore electors (8.97 crore male, 8.73 crore female) will throng 1.92 lakh polling stations to decide the electoral fortune of 1,717 candidates in the fray. While voting will go on till 6 p.m., it will end in 3 Left-Wing Extremism-affected Assembly constituencies of Andhra Pradesh at 4 p.m., and in three others at 5 p.m.

Prominent among the candidates in this phase are Union Ministers Arjun Munda (Khunti-ST, Jharkhand), Nityanand Rai (Ujiarpur, Bihar), and Ajay Mishra Teni (Kheri, Uttar Pradesh), Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress, who faces former cricketer Yusuf Pathan (Trinamool Congress) in West Bengal’s Baharampur, filmstar-turned politician Shatrughan Singh of the Trinamool in West Bengal’s Asansol, and Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav challenging sitting BJP MP Subrat Pathak in UP’s Kannauj.

Other key battlegrounds include Hyderabad, which is witnessing a significant showdown between the BJP’s Madhavi Latha and sitting MP Asaduddin Owaisi of the AIMIM, West Bengal’s Krishnanagar, where expelled Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra faces the BJP’s Amrita Roy, Mahashtra’s Beed, where BJP’s Pankaja Munde, fielded in place of sitting MP and younger sister Pritam Munde, faces NCP-SP’s candidate Bajrang Sonawane, and Andhra Pradesh state Congress chief Y.S. Sharmila taking on cousin and sitting MP Avinash Reddy in Kadapa.

As per an IMD forecast, there is no significant concern regarding hot weather conditions for the polling in this phase. Poll authorities have ensured assured minimum facilities like drinking water, sheds for shade from the sun, toilets, ramps, volunteers, and wheelchairs to ensure that every voter, including the elderly and persons with disabilities, can cast their vote with ease.

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