16 April 2009

India Votes for Loksabha: Phase-I 2009

Today, 16 April 2009, is the schedule for the Phase-1 of General Elections 2009 in India to its Parliament (Loksabha). Voting will take place in 124 constituencies spreading across 17 states/union territories. They are one in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, 22 (of the 42) in Andhra Pradesh, two in Arunachal Pradesh, three (of the 14) in Assam, 13 (of the 40) in Bihar, 11 in Chhattisgarh, one (of the six) in Jammu & Kashmir, 20 in Kerala, one in Lakshadweep, 13 (of the 48) in Maharashtra, one (of the two) in Manipur, two in Meghalaya, one in Mizoram, one in Nagaland, six (of the 14) in Jharkhand, 10 (of the 21) in Orissa (see Map). In Andhra Pradesh (154 out of 294) and Orissa (70 of the 147) voters have to also cast for their respective Assembly constituencies. Voting time is from 7am to 5pm.

Some of the prominent places of elections are Vidarbha in Maharashtra (the cotton zone receiving limelight in recent years for increasing farmers' suicides), Chhattisgarh where the Government claims to have created a people's movement (Salwa Judum) to take on Naxalites. The Telengana region in Andhra Pradesh with almost all parties endorsing the formation of a new state. The state also has a new party Praja Rajyam (People's rule) with their matinee idol Chiranjeevi at its helm. Kandhamal in Orissa where one witnessed communal disturbances last year, a reason cited by the current ruling party of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) with Naveen Patnaik as Chief Minister to break ties with their alliance partner Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) just before the current elections. A common thing of the regions in these four states as also Jharkhand is that they are largely from the contiguous geographical region called Dandakaranya of the Central Indian Plateau. They are also either rainfed or dryland regions with high incidences of poverty.

For the 124 loksabha seats 1715 (including 122 women) candidates are in the fray whose fate would be decided by more than 143 million eligible voters. Electronic voting machines would be used. However results have to wait till all the five phases of elections are over. The remaining phases will be on 23 April, 30 April, 7 May, and 13 May. Counting will take place on 16 May 2009.

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