LS polls phase 2: Polling across 13 states, UTs; Nirmala Sitharaman, Rahul Dravid among early voters

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Nirmala Sitharaman Rahul Dravid

Nirmala Sitharaman (L); Rahul Dravid (R)

New Delhi: Polling was underway on Friday in 88 constituencies spread across 13 states and union territories in the second phase of the Lok Sabha polls, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging people to cast their votes in record numbers.

Polling started at 7 am and will continue till 6 pm.

Asserting that their vote is their voice, Modi especially told the youth and women voters to turn up at the polling booths in great numbers, and said a high voter turnout strengthens democracy.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge also urged voters to come out and vote to protect democracy from the clutches of dictatorship.

He also said that the Constitution should reverberate in their hearts before they push to voting button.

In Kerala and Karnataka, long queues of voters were seen outside polling booths as soon as voting started.

However, there were reports of EVM breakdowns in various booths across Kerala, delaying the election process in those places.

Polling in underway at 20 Lok Sabha seats in Kerala.

In Karnataka, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, software industry icon N R Narayana Murthy, his wife and Rajya Sabha member Sudha Murty, former cricketer Rahul Dravid and actor Prakash Raj were among the early voters as polling got underway in 14 Lok Sabha constituencies.

Exhorting people to vote, Sitharaman told reporters, "Everyone should come out of their homes and cast their vote. Yes, it can be a hot day for Bengaluru but it is worth coming out. Choose your time, please come and do vote".

In the north, polling was going on for 13 Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan, Jammu constituency in Jammu and Kashmir and eight seats in Uttar Pradesh.

Besides voting was underway in many seats in the east, including Tripura East Lok Sabha constituency, remaining part of the Outer Manipur parliamentary seat, five Lok Sabha seats in Assam, three constituencies in northern West Bengal and five Lok Sabha seats in Bihar In Chhattisgarh, polling is underway in Naxal-affected Kanker, Rajnandgaon and Mahasamund Lok Sabha constituencies while in Maharashtra, polling is going on in in eight Lok Sabha constituencies.

Several senior BJP and opposition leaders, including Rahul Gandhi and Shashi Tharoor of the Congress, and Union ministers Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Kailash Choudhary and Rajeev Chandrasekhar, are in the fray in the 88 seats where polling is underway.

In 2019, the BJP had won 52 and its existing allies 12 of these seats, including seven of eight in Uttar Pradesh, all 13, eight and seven in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh respectively, and four of the five seats each in Assam and Bihar.

The constituents of the now INDIA bloc had won 23 seats in the last general election.

Polling was held in 102 seats in the the first phase polls on April 19.

The turnout in the first phase was recorded at 62.37 per cent which may still be revised upwards as votes are tallied. The voting percentage in the first phase in 2019 was 69.43 per cent when 91 seats went to the polls.