High security for third phase polls

 Elaborate security arrangements have been made for the third phase of Lok Sabha polls where nearly 11 crore electorate will decide the fate of contestants in 92 constituencies on Thursday.

While the polls will be held in sensitive areas, including Maoist-hit Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Maharashtra, Bihar and communally-sensitive western Uttar Pradesh, large contingents of central armed forces have been mobilised in co-ordination with the police force of the respective states.

With the Maoists giving a call to boycott polls, the Election Commission instructed the Union Home Ministry to ensure peaceful conduct of elections. Apart from deploying special forces to instill confidence among voters, the Election Commission also kept helicopters ready in Maoist-hit states for emergency purposes. 

Nearly 80 per cent polling stations in Maoist-hit Bastar in Chhattisgarh have been designated as "highly sensitive", leading to the deployment of more than 25,000 security personnel.

A total of 1,419 contestants are in fray in 92 segments spreading 11 states and three Union territories. In Delhi, Haryana and Kerala, the elections will be held in a single phase on Thursday, while the polls will also held for sizable seats in states like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.

Several top leaders, like Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, seven Union ministers including Kapil Sibal, Kamal Nath, Shashi Tharoor (all of Congress), Ajit Singh of the RLD and former army chief V K Singh and Harsh Vardhan (both BJP) are among the 1,418 candidates in the fray.

In Uttar Pradesh, where the polls are being held for 10 seats, prominent among those contesting in this phase are Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh pitted against former Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh (BJP) in Baghpat, recent RLD entrant actress-politician Jaya Prada (Bijnore), film stars Nagma (Meerut) and Raj Babbar (Ghaziabad) both from Congress, AAP's Shazia Ilmi and former Army chief and BJP's V K Singh in Ghaziabad, and riot accused Kadir Rana (BSP) in Muzaffarnagar.

Seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi will go to polls in which an estimated 1.27 crore voters will decide the fate of a total of 150 candidates. Another important state going to poll is Bihar where six of the total 40 seats will be decided, including Sasaram where Lok Sabha Speaker Kumar is seeking another victory.

Kerala will witness one-day polling to all its 20 seats where ruling Congress-led UDF and opposition CPM-led LDF are locked in a fierce combat.

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