Over 18 crore voters in 117 parliamentary constituencies spread across 11 states and 1 Union Territory are eligible to exercise their franchise in the sixth phase of polling scheduled on Thursday.
The sixth phase happens to be the second most major round of polling after the fifth phase held last week in which 121 constituencies were involved.
All 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu, the lone seat in Puducherry, 19 seats in Maharashtra, 10 in Madhya Pradesh, 5 in Rajasthan, 7 each in Bihar and Chhattisgarh, 6 each in Assam and West Bengal, 4 in Jharkhand and 12 seats in Uttar Pradesh are involved in Thursday’s polling.
With the sixth phase, the polling process will be completed in Assam, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
The stakes are high not only for the BJP and Congress but also for key regional parties like the AIADMK, DMK, Trinamool Congress, Nationalist Congress Party and the Shiv Sena.
Thursday’s polling will seal the fate of several top contenders, including BJP senior leader Sushma Swaraj (Vidisha), Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav (Mainpuri), actor-turned-politician Hema Malini (Mathura), former Union minister Dayanidhi Maran (Central Chennai), former telecom minister A Raja (Nilgiris), Finance Minister P Chidambaram's son Karti (Sivaganga), MDMK leader Vaiko (Virudunagar), Union minister Milind Deora (Mumbai-South), AAP candidates Medha Patkar (Mumbai North East) and Meera Sanyal (Mumbai-South), former cricketer Mohd Azharuddin (Tonk-Sawai Madhopur) and former Jharkhand chief minister Shibu Soren (Dumka).
In Bihar, BJP's Shahnawaz Hussain, party's lone Muslim face in the outgoing Lok Sabha (Bhagalpur), is in the fray.
Among the prominent candidates in Chhattisgarh is Karuna Shukla, niece of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Shukla, who is the Congress candidate from Bilaspur, had left the BJP a couple of months ago. President Pranab Mukherjee's son Abhijeet is contesting on a Congress ticket from Jangipur, West Bengal.
Anantnag in Jammu and Kashmir also goes to polls on Thursday where the fate of 12 candidates, including National Conference leader Mehboob Beg and opposition People’s Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti would be decided.
With the sixth phase, the polling in 349 of the 543 seats would be completed. The polling in remaining seats will be held on April 30, May 7 and May 12.