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Lok Sabha Elections Phase : 60% voting across 102 seats 

The first phase of voting for the 18th Lok Sabha elections commenced today in 21 states and Union territories. By 5 pm, a nearly 60% voter turnout was recorded across these regions. Among the states where voting took place are Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep, and Puducherry. Notably, Tamil Nadu, with 39 seats, emerged as a key battleground state for the day, where the BJP, led by Mr. Modi, is striving to expand its influence.

Over 16.63 crore voters, comprising more than 8 crore men and women each, are expected to cast their votes at approximately 2 lakh polling stations. Prominent figures in the electoral fray during this phase include Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Bhupendra Yadav, Kiren Rijiju, Jitendra Singh, Arjun Ram Meghwal, and Sarbananda Sonowal. Additionally, candidates like Congress’s Gaurav Gogoi, DMK’s Kanimozhi, and BJP’s Tamil Nadu chief K Annamalai are contesting in this phase.

The BJP-led NDA is aiming for a stronger majority, while the opposition INDIA bloc is anticipating a resurgence. In the previous election cycle in 2019, the UPA had secured victory in 45 out of the 102 seats contested on Friday, while the NDA clinched 41 seats. Six of these seats have been reallocated due to the delimitation exercise.

The general elections, which seek to elect 543 members to the 18th Lok Sabha, will unfold over seven phases, spanning from April 19 to June 1, with results scheduled to be declared on June 4. Approximately a billion eligible voters are set to participate in this democratic exercise. Key concerns dominating the electoral discourse include unemployment, inflation, curtailment of dissent, communal politics, and more. The subsequent round of voting is slated for April 26.

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