Campaigning draws to a close

Campaigning draws to a close

Chidambaram, Maneka Gandhi, Mamata and Maran in the fray

Campaigning draws to a close

BJP prime ministerial candidate L K Advani enjoys a vegetarian meal at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Monday. AFP

Voters in over 6,000 villages in nine states and two Union Territories, going to the polls on May 13, were vulnerable to threats and intimidation, Deputy Election Commissioner R Balakrishnan told reporters here. In view of the threats, preventive measures had been initiated against nearly 19,000 potential troublemakers, he said.

The political bigwigs whose fates will be decided on May 13 include P Chidambaram and Mohammed Azharuddin of the Congress, Maneka and Varun Gandhi of the BJP, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and DMK’s T R Baalu and Dayanidhi Maran.

A party or combine needs 272 seats in the 545-member Lok Sabha to stake claim to form the government. Polling had already been completed in 457 constituencies, as the staggered exercise began last month. The Congress’ Mani Shankar Aiyar and Sajjad Gani Lone of the People’s Conference are also among the prominent names in this phase, in which 10.78 crore voters will choose from 1,432 candidates.

Elections will be held to all 39 seats in the states of Tamil Nadu and four seats in Himachal Pradesh, two in Jammu and Kashmir, nine in Punjab, 14 in Uttar Pradesh, 11 in West Bengal, five in Uttarakhand and one each in Chandigarh and Puducherry.
The Commission also said 10 additional observers had been deputed with eight for West Bengal and one each for UP and Tamil Nadu.

Even as the elections are drawing to a close, political alignments seems to be volatile.
The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) contested polls in Andhra Pradesh as a Third Front ally. However, the party leaders appeared in the company of NDA leaders at a public meeting in Ludhiana on Sunday, highlighting that realignment of forces, key to securing power, had already begun.

That the Congress was seeking to warm up with their erstwhile Left allies was made clear when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the Marxists were his “dear friends” and also when Rahul Gandhi hinted at a post-poll tie-up with the Left parties.

CPM general secretary Prakash Karat had already said the Third Front would not hesitate to take the Congress support from outside to form the government.

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