Amid heat and high-voltage issues, polling underway in 93 LS seats for third phase

Amid heat and high-voltage issues, polling underway in 93 LS seats for third phase
The polling is underway in 93 Lok Sabha constituencies spread over 11 states and Union Territories for the third phase of the ongoing general elections amid a highly surcharged political atmosphere. At 9 am, 10.81 percent voter turnout was recorded across 11 states and union territories. 
High voltage issues during this phase, which were not present in the previous two rounds, mainly include certain developments in Karnataka, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh besides the intensified debate on reservation involving both the key contestants.
In the run up to the third round the sexual harassment charges against JD(S) leader Prajwal Revanna gave hogged the headlines. West Bengal too found a prominent mention in the media on similar allegations pertaining to Governor C V Ananda Bose.
In the case of UP, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s plunge in electoral fray in Rae Bareli gave cannon fodder to the BJP, which said that by deciding not to field him from Amethi, the Grand Old Party has conceded defeat even before the constituency went to polls.
Political observers say stakes are high for the BJP as it had won an overwhelming majority of these seats, including all in Gujarat, Karnataka, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, in the last election.
More than 1,300 candidates, including around 120 women, are in the fray. Among the bigwigs are Union ministers Amit Shah (Gandhinagar), Jyotiraditya Scindia (Guna), Mansukh Mandaviya (Porbandar), Parshottam Rupala (Rajkot), Pralhad Joshi (Dharwad) and SP Singh Baghel (Agra).
With the BJP bagging Surat unopposed, 25 seats in Prime Minister Modi's home state of Gujarat will go to polls on May 7, besides 11 seats in Maharashtra, 10 seats in Uttar Pradesh, the remaining 14 of the 28 in Karnataka, seven in Chhattisgarh, five in Bihar, four each in Assam and West Bengal, and all two in Goa.
The Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu (2 seats) and nine seats in Madhya Pradesh, including Betul where elections were deferred, will also go to polls on Tuesday and over 11 crore people will be eligible to vote.
Former Madhya Pradesh chief ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Vidisha) and Digvijaya Singh (Rajgarh) are also in the fray this time.
An interesting contest is on in Maharashtra's Baramati between Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule and Sunetra Pawar, wife of the veteran leader's estranged nephew and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.
In Uttar Pradesh, the current phase is important for the Mulayam Singh Yadav family, with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav's wife Dimple Yadav aiming to retain the Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat. Dimple had won the seat in bypolls following the demise of her father-in-law Mulayam Singh Yadav. Akshaya Yadav, son of Ram Gopal Yadav, the national principal general secretary of SP, will try to reclaim the Firozabad seat, which he had won in 2014.
Besides, Aditya Yadav, the son of SP national general secretary Shivpal Yadav, is making his electoral debut from the Budaun Lok Sabha seat, which was represented by his cousin Dharmendra Yadav in 2014.
The fate of former Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai (Haveri) and AIUDF Badruddin Ajmal (Dhubri) will also be decided in this phase.
Prime Minister Modi led the BJP charge, asking the Congress to give in writing that it will not hand over the quota for SCs, STs and OBCs to Muslims. The Congress and its allies accused the BJP of trying to tamper with the Constitution and do away with reservations. The principal opposition party, which has promised to remove the 50 per cent cap on reservations, also asked the BJP to clear its stance on the issue.

The BJP leaders targeted the Congress over wealth redistribution and inheritance tax issues and accused it of pursuing appeasement politics, while Rahul Gandhi reiterated Congress' commitment to conduct a caste census and economic survey if voted to power.

Congress leaders including Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have attacked the BJP over allegations of sexual harassment against Prajwal Revanna, Hassan MP and leader of the JD(S) -- an ally of the BJP. Hitting back, BJP leader Amit Shah and others questioned why the Congress government in Karnataka delayed the action against Revanna. The JD(S) joined the BJP-led NDA in September last year.

Prajwal Revanna is the grandson of former prime minister and JD(S) patriarch H D Deve Gowda and was the JD(S)-BJP alliance candidate from Hassan seat which went to polls on April 26. Prajwal's father was arrested by Special Investigation Team on Saturday in a kidnapping case linked to sexual abuse allegations against Prajwal, soon after a court here rejected his anticipatory bail plea.

After the third phase, voting will be completed in 283 out of 543 seats in Lok Saba. The next four phases will be on May 13, May 20, May 25 and June 1. Counting of votes is on June 4.

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