The stage is set for one of the busiest days of the ongoing election season with all the five states/UT – West Bengal, Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry – going to polls on April 6.
The polling will be held in a single phase in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry while Assam will witness its third and final round of voting on Tuesday.
In Bengal, this will be the third round in the eight-phase elections ending April 29.
The results will be announced on May 2.
The Election Commission on Monday described as sensitive all the 31 West Bengal assembly constituencies where voting will be held in the third phase on Tuesday and imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144.
The order restricts unlawful assembly and movement, holding of public meetings, carrying of weapons, sticks, banners, placards by anybody as well as shouting slogans and using loudspeakers, he clarified.
The constituencies are spread over the districts of Howrah (Part I), Hooghly (Part I) and South 24 Parganas (Part II).
Polling will be held between 7 am to 6.30 pm in 10,871 polling stations in the 31 assembly constituencies.
A total of 78,52,425 voters in the three districts will decide the fate of 205 candidates in Tuesday's polling. The prominent among them are BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta, TMC minister Ashima Patra and CPI(M) senior leader Kanti Ganguly contesting from Hoogly, Howrah and South 24 Parganas respectively.
In the second phase, West Bengal recorded a voter turnout of 84 per cent across 30 assembly constituencies. In Nandigram where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is contesting against her former lieutenant and BJP candidate Suvendu Adhikari, a turn out of 88 per cent was recorded.
The elections for the 294 assembly seats in West Bengal are being held in eight phases. The votes will be counted on May 2.
After fierce electioneering over a span of about four months, with a resurgent DMK eyeing capturing power and a determined AIADMK straining every nerve to retain power for the second time, Tamil Nadu is all set for the Assembly polls on Tuesday.
The most intense in its electoral history and the first polls in the absence of stalwarts, AIADMK's J Jayalalithaa and DMK's M Karunanidhi, Chief Minister K Palaniswami, who is seeking a third successive win from Edappadi segment in his home district of Salem, steered his party's hectic campaign.
With women (3,19,39,112) outnumbering men (3,09,23,651), the 6.28 crore voters, which includes 7,192 third gender people, would decide the fortunes of 3,998 candidates.
As many as 13 candidates, including BJP's Pon Radhakrishnan and Vijay Vasanth of Congress are in the fray for the bypoll to the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat.
Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who too embarked on an aggressive campaign, is contesting again from his native Theni district's Bodinayakanur constituency, where he emerged victorious in the 2011 and 2016 polls.
The AIADMK leadership that began the campaign in December last, latched on to the government's 'achievements' like 7.5 per cent quota for government school students in medical admissions, successful COVID-19 management and poll promise like Rs 1,500 monthly assistance to families.
The DMK's poll plank was corruption charges against the government and 500 plus poll promises, including Rs 4,000 relief to COVID-19 hit rice ration card holders and legislation to earmark 75 per cent of jobs for locals.
DMK chief M K Stalin, who spearheaded several campaign programmes against the ruling party, including the 'We Reject AIADMK' in December last and 'people's' grama sabhas, vigorously toured the state to take on the ruling AIADMK.
He is seeking reelection for the straight third term from Kolathur segment here.
His son and party youth wing secretary Udhayanidhi Stalin is debuting from Chepauk- Triplicance constituency.
For the first time, Makkal Needhi Maiam, founded in 2018 and led by actor-politician Kamal Haasan, is trying its luck in Assembly polls.
AIADMK's ally, BJP which is contesting in 20 constituencies, has made a serious bid to make a mark in the Assembly polls. Currently, the BJP has no MLAs in the Assembly.
The saffron party conducted a 'Vel' yatra last year and claimed in its campaign that it had championed the cause of protecting the people's sentiments.
Its yatra prompted DMK chief Stalin to even hold a 'Vel'.
Several senior BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national chief J P Nadda were among those who campaigned.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi toured Tamil Nadu with zest and covered many regions to woo voters, targeting the BJP for not 'respecting' Tamil culture and its ally, the AIADMK leadership, for 'bowing' before the Centre.
The Congress, an ally of the DMK, is in the fray in 25 Assembly segments.
The state has 88,937 polling stations 1,29,165 ballot units, 91,180 control units (which comprise the Electronic Voting Machine) and an equal number of VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) units.
As many as 4,17,521 polling personnel are on duty and over 1.50 lakh security personnel, including those from state police, Central Armed Police Force, and home guards have been deployed.
There are 10,813 vulnerable polling stations and 537 critical and webcasting is all set to be done from '50 per cent' of the polling stations.
There are 234 Assembly constituencies that go for single-phase polls on Tuesday.
AIADMK is in the fray in 191 segments (including allies who are contesting on AIADMK's two-leaves symbol) and DMK is fighting from 188 constituencies (including poll partners who are contesting on DMK's Rising Sun symbol).
The DMK was in power during 2006-11. The AIADMK, then led by late Jayalalithaa, won the 2011 polls hands down and also went on to retain power in 2016.
Puducherry and its outlying regions of Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam go to Assembly polls on April 6 in a single phase.
There are 30 Assembly segments including five reserved constituencies.
The election is a keen contest between the Congress-led Secular Democratic alliance and the AINRC led NDA.
The chief contestants are AINRC founder leader N Rangasamy seeking election from Thattanchavady in Puducherry and the lone seat in Yanam an enclave of Puducherry in Andhra Pradesh.
Guwahati: Assam is all set to witness direct and triangular contests in 40 assembly constituencies that are going to polls in the last of the three phases on Tuesday to decide the fate of 337 candidates, including senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, his five cabinet colleagues and BJP state unit president Ranjeet Kumar Dass.
A direct contest between nominees of the BJP-led NDA and Congress-headed Grand Alliance is on the cards in 20 constituencies while there is a triangular fight, including friendly contests, in the remaining seats with the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) being considered as the third force.
The newly floated AJP is contesting in 22 seats while there are 126 independents in the fray in the final phase of the election in which the BJP-led coalition is seeking to return to power for the second term in a row.
Polling will begin at 7 am and end at 6 pm, with the timing extended by an hour to ensure that COVID protocols are maintained in the constituencies spread across 12 districts.
There are 25 women candidates contesting in this phase.
The fate of 20 sitting MLAs - eight from the Congress, five from the BJP, three each from the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and the BPF and one from the AGP -- will be decided in the final phase.
The first two phases of the election were held on March 27 and April 1. Votes will be counted on May 2.
Elections are being held amidst tight security as 320 companies of security forces were deployed in the third phase, the highest among all the phases.
Altogether 79,19,641 voters -- 40,11,539 men, 39,07,963 women and 139 of the third gender are entitled to exercise their franchise in 11,401 polling stations.
Dispur constituency has the highest of 4,11,636 voters while Dharmapur has the lowest of 1,41,592 voters.
There are 316 all-women polling stations and 149 model polling stations.
Altogether 45,604 polling personnel have been deployed for the phase. A section of them has started on Sunday for their polling stations which are remote.
Voters have been urged to wear masks or they will be provided with one at the polling stations if they are unmasked while COVID mitigation facilities like sanitiser, thermal scanners, soap and handwashing facilities will be a part of Assured Minimum Facilities at each polling station.
The third phase of polling will also involve 33 general observers, nine police observers, 17 expenditure observers and 986 micro-observers.