New Delhi:Voting began at 0700 hrs on Thursday as polling kicked off for the second phase of Lok Sabha elections in 95 constituencies spread over 11 states and one Union Territory.
Polling is being held in 38 constituencies in Tamil Nadu, 14 in Karnataka, 10 in Maharashtra, 8 in Uttar Pradesh, five each in Assam, Bihar and Odisha, three each in Chhattisgarh and Bengal, two in Jammu and Kashmir and one each in Manipur and Puducherry. Elaborate security is in place to ensure peaceful and smooth conduct of Lok Sabha polls.
As per the original schedule, 97 seats were to go to polls in the second phase but the election to Vellore in Tamil Nadu was cancelled over allegations of excessive use of money power while polling in Tripura (East) has been deferred for the third phase over law and order situation there.
Out of 95 Lok Sabha seats going to polls in this phase, AIADMK had won 36 and BJP 26 seats in the 2014 general elections.
High voltage and hectic canvassing witnessed the star campaigners, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and Congress President Rahul Gandhi, addressing rallies in poll-bound states and taking potshots at each other. About 1,600 candidates are in the fray and nearly 15 crore electors are expected to decide their fate.
Prominent candidates in the second phase include former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and Union Ministers Sadanand Gowda and Jitendra Singh. Film star-turned politician Hema Malini, erstwhile Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran, DMK leader Kanimozhi, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, ex-Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, former Law Minister Veerappa Moily, UP Congress chief Raj Babbar, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah, BSP leader Danish Ali and CPI(M) stalwart Mohammed Salim are also in the fray.
In Tamil Nadu, key seats in the second phase include Kanniyakumari, Sivaganga, Chennai Central and Thoothukkudi along with simultaneous byelections to 18 Assembly constituencies. In Odisha, the focus will be on Kandhamal seat and in Chhattisgarh all eyes will be riveted on Rajnandgaon constituency. The hot seats in Bihar include Katihar and Bhagalpur. (UNI)