Lok Sabha first phase: India votes for 102 seats in 21 states & UTs

Nitin Gadkari, Kiren Rijiju, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Jitendra Singh and Sanjiv Balyan are among eight union ministers who battle to win a Lok Sabha seat on Friday.

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The 2024 general elections kick off with the first phase on Friday

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The world’s biggest general election has taken off in India, with the first and largest phase of the nation’s marathon seven-phase polls getting underway on Friday. The seven phases, from April 19 to June 1, will see Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking to win his third consecutive term in office. Overall, India votes to elect 543 members of the 18th Lok Sabha.

In Friday’s first phase, fates will be decided for 102 seats across 21 states and Union Territories. Under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), aims to win a record 400 seats this time.

The Opposition challenge primarily comes from the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), a 41-party coalition that includes the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), All India Trinamool Congress, DMK, CPI(M), Shiv Sena (UBT) and JMM among others. While the Opposition led by Rahul Gandhi and the Congress battles to remove PM Modi and the BJP-led NDA from office, various parties of INDIA are also actually up against each other in many regions. The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, for instance, will fight the Congress in West Bengal and the Northeast states.

Nitin Gadkari, Kiren Rijiju, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Jitendra Singh and Sanjiv Balyan are among eight union ministers who battle to win a Lok Sabha seat on Friday. Former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, former Telangana governor Tamilisai Soundararajan and Congress Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha, Gaurav Gogoi, are among several big leaders whose political fortunes will be tested in the first phase.

Among the most significant states going to polls in the first phase is Tamil Nadu, with all 39 seats seeing polling action. That apart 12 seats in Rajasthan, eight in Uttar Pradesh, six in Madhya Pradesh, five each in Maharashtra, Assam and Uttarakhand, four in Bihar, three in West Bengal, two each in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, and one seat each in Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep, Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram, Sikkim, Puducherry, Chhattisgarh, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands will see polling on Friday. Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh are the four states that will choose new Assemblies along with Lok Sabha candidates.

In order to achieve a target of 400 seats, the BJP aims at making inroads into new territories this time. Among regions where the party hopes to dominate for the first time on its own are West Bengal, Odisha (after a planned coalition with Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal, or BJD, did not materialise), Tamil Nadu, and the states of the Northeast. At the same time, the NDA knows it is crucial it continues holding on to power in home turfs such as Gujarat and the Hindi heartland states.

The NDA hopes to expand its political base in the South, and the performance of S. Ramadoss’ Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), which is a part of the alliance in the region, could play a decisive role. INDIA, on the other hand, would hope recent Assembly results in Karnataka and Telangana, which went against the NDA, would have reflected an anti-BJP wave in the South.

Modi election first phase nitin gadkari