The seventh and last phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha election today saw some key constituencies go to polls, one them being Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency - Varanasi. Some of the other important seats include Gorakhpur, formerly UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath's seat, Patna Sahib in Bihar, where Congress's Shatrughan Sinha is up against BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad, and Diamond Harbour and Kolkata in West Bengal. Voting took place in 59 constituencies across seven states and one union territory in the last phase of elections today. The counting of votes will take place on Thursday, May 23.
Here are the highlights on voting day in PM Modi's constituency Varanasi, and other key seats:
Actor-turned-politician Moon Moon Sen, a Trinamool Congress candidate for the national election, was again accused of making a comment that undermined the violence in Bengal on the last day of voting for the national election on Sunday. "This is a tiny bit of violence," Moon Moon Sen said as she responded to a question on the vandalism of a statue of iconic 19th century reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar during clashes in Kolkata at BJP president Amit Shah's roadshow last week.
Crude bombs were flung in Bengal's Bhatpara as two groups clashed and elsewhere, three BJP candidates claimed they came under attack on the last day of polling in the state. Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has called for the presence of Central forces in the state till the counting of votes gets over
BJP MP candidate Anupam Hazra in Jadavpur: TMC goons have beaten up a BJP mandal president, a driver&attacked a car. We also rescued our 3 polling agents.TMC goons were going to carry out rigging at 52 booths. People are eager to vote for BJP but they are not allowing ppl to vote pic.twitter.com/7qlRPg73HA- ANI (@ANI) May 19, 2019
Varanasi will see 18.54 lakh registered votes cast their vote in 1,819 polling booths, of which 273 are categorised as ''critical''.
Local administration has set up 145 model booths and one pink booth which will be operated only by women.
Authorities have appealed to people to come out in large numbers to cast votes in Varanasi, which had reported 58.35 per cent polling in 2014.
There are five assembly segments in Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency. These are - Rohaniya, Varanasi North, Varanasi South, Varanasi Cantonment, and Sevapuri.
PM Modi's challengers are Congress's Ajay Rai and SP-BSP gathbandhan candidate Shalini Yadav.
In 2014, PM Modi had defeated Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal by a margin of 3.37 lakh.
Last time, PM Modi had got 56.37 per cent votes out of the total polled and there was a swing of 25.85 per cent votes in his favour from 2009, when compared Murli Manohar Joshi, who had got 30.5 per cent votes for the BJP.
In 2009, the Samajwadi Party and BSP contested separately, their combined vote share was 46.6 per cent which was more that of the BJP.
Voting is taking place in 7 states and 1 union territory
59 constituencies went to polls today, more than 10 crore registered voters.
There are a total of 918 candidates contesting in the seventh-and final phase of polling today.
1,12,993 polling stations have been set up for the last phase of the 2019 general elections.
By this evening, except Vellore in Tamil Nadu, elections would be over in all constituencies across the country.
Today is the final phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. I urge all those voting in this phase to vote in record numbers. Your one vote will shape India's development trajectory in the years to come. I also hope first time voters vote enthusiastically.- Chowkidar Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 19, 2019
In Bihar's Buxar, Union Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey is banking on the Narendra Modi factor to retain the seat for the second time. Facing him is Jagadanand Singh, a senior leader from Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). Mr Singh has represented the Lok Sabha constituency in the past. Unlike Mr Choubey, who is from Bhagalpur, Mr Singh is seen as a local. Rajputs are a key factor in this Brahmin dominated seat.
Former Lok Sabha Speaker and Congress leader Meira Kumar is contesting from Bihar's Sasaram, which she had represented two times on the trot before losing to BJP's Chhedi Paswan in 2014.
Mr Paswan was a lawmaker from the seat in 1989 and 1991 on a Janata Dal ticket. Meira Kumar's father, former deputy prime minister Jagjivan Ram, had represented the reserved seat several times, mostly on a Congress ticket and twice as the Janata Party's candidate.
Though Sasaram is a reserved (Scheduled Caste) seat, the fight is tough for both Chhedi Paswan and Meira Kumar. If Ms Kumar is playing her father's legacy card, Mr Paswan is banking on PM Narendra Modi's influence and popularity.
Pataliputra, named after the ancient city that was capital of the Magadh kingdom, sees a straight flight between jailed Bihar politician Lalu Prasad Yadav's eldest daughter Misa Bharti and former loyalist of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief. Misa Bharti who had lost to the former five years ago, entered the electoral battle again apparently to avenge the defeat despite being a member of the Rajya Sabha. Union Minister Ram Kripal Yadav is the sitting lawmaker and the BJP candidate in Pataliputra.
Ms Bharti hopes to gain sympathy with her campaign almost entirely focused on her ailing father who is serving prison sentences in multiple fodder scam cases and has not been able to secure bail.
In West Bengal's high-profile Jadavpur seat, the Trinamool Congress is banking on the celebrity status of Bengali actor Mimi Chakraborty for a third consecutive win. Ms Chakraborty faces a stiff challenge from the CPI(M)'s Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, who was the mayor of Kolkata. The BJP, in a bid to win the seat riding on its growing popularity, has fielded Anupam Hazra, a TMC parliamentarian in the outgoing Lok Sabha who switched sides before the election. It was in Jadavpur where Mamata Banerjee had defeated Left veteran Somnath Chatterjee in 1984 when she was with the Congress. In Jadavpur, no party has won a third consecutive term so far.
Chandigarh is seeing a triangular contest in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP has fielded its sitting lawmaker, actor Kirron Kher, who is banking on PM Narendra Modi's popularity and development agenda. She is contesting against former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal of the Congress and Harmohan Dhawan of the Aam Aadmi Party. Mr Dhawan is a former union minister and rebel BJP lawmaker who had supported Kirron Kher in the previous Lok Sabha election. Chandigarh has over 6.2 lakh registered voters.
Bollywood actor Sunny Deol is BJP's candidate from the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha constituency, which is currently being represented by the Congress. Sunny Deol is the third person from his family to join politics - and the BJP - after his father Dharmendra and stepmother Hema Malini. Sunny Deol's campaign in Punjab witnessed many colourful moments with him holding up a hand pump, recreating a scene from his hit film "Gadar: Ek Prem Katha", and at other times getting big cheers for repeating popular dialogues from his movies.
Sunny Deol is contesting against state Congress chief and sitting lawmaker Sunil Jakhar. Mr Jakhar, the son of former Congress leader Balram Jakhar, is banking on projects taken up by him as lawmaker from the seat. Gurdaspur has traditionally been a BJP stronghold. It was represented four times by veteran actor Vinod Khanna, who died in April 2017.
Bhojpuri superstar Ravi Kishan BJP's candidate in the crucial Gorakhpur constituency, the stronghold of UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath. The BJP, which lost Gorakhpur to the alliance of Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in the by-election last year is hoping to get it back. He is pitted against the Congress's Madhusudan Tripathi and Rambhual Nishad of the Samajwadi Party. Gorakhpur lawmaker Pravin Nishad, who had won the seat on a Samajwadi Party ticket last year, has joined the BJP. Gorakhpur was represented many times by Yogi Adityanath in the Lok Sabha from 1998 to 2017, before he became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
Firebrand actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who recently switched from the BJP to the Congress, takes on Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in Bihar's Patna Sahib. Mr Sinha, who has represented the seat for a decade, was upset when he was snubbed by the BJP, which named Ravi Shankar Prasad as its candidate from the constituency. Soon after joining the Congress, Shatrughan Sinha ruffled many feathers within the party after his controversial comments on Mohammed Ali Jinnah and when he campaigned for his wife Poonam Sinha who contested from Lucknow on a Samajwadi Party ticket, though the Congress has also fielded its candidate from there.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, one of the most prominent ministers in PM Narendra Modi's cabinet, is banking on his long connection with Patna and the achievements of the Narendra Modi-led BJP government.
The Kayastha community, which has a sizeable population, will also play a key role in Patna Sahib.
The Congress has again fielded Ajay Rai, who finished third in 2014 with only 75,000 votes. The Congress hopes Mr Rai, a Bhumihar, can at least make a dent in PM Modi's votes. The Bhumihar caste enjoys significant influence in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
The opposition gathbandhan (alliance) of Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party and Mayawati's BSP also has its own candidate. The Samajwadi Party is fielding Shalini Yadav, the daughter-in-law of a former Congress lawmaker as the opposition candidate from Varanasi.