Polling has already begun in the final 41 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal with brisk voting reported so far.
All eyes are set on the high-profile and high-stake Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency from where Modi is locked in a stiff three-cornered battle with Kejriwal and Congress candidate Ajay Rai, who is a local MLA.

The Congress, BJP and AAP left no stones unturned in capturing the imagination of the voters of Varanasi with an all-embracing and gruelling campaign. The spiritual city witnessed three massive road shows few days before the actual polling day.

Political pundits have been wary of picking the favourite from this very important seat with experts claiming that a win here would not be a cakewalk for the Gujarat Chief Minister with the prospect of a defeat also looming over.

In his bid to become the country’s next Prime Minister, Modi even went on to blame the Election Commission for being biased against the BJP. Early this morning, he urged all voters, especially the youth, to exercise their franchise in large numbers.

“Today is final phase of 2014 Polls. Urging all those voting in 41 seats across 3 states & Assembly by-polls in WB to vote in large numbers,” Modi tweeted.

“My special request to the youth - go out & vote and take your family and friends along to the polling booth!” he added.

An equally confident Kejriwal said the voters of Varanasi would ensure a crushing Modi defeat and added that Congress’ Rai was not even in the race.

Kejriwal added the battle in Varanasi is about price rise and corruption, expressing confidence in a thumping win in the spiritual city.

On the other side, Congress candidate Rai branded all other candidates in the fray from Varanasi seat as ‘outsiders’, saying he was the local leader and would comfortably win from the holy city.

He got a major shot in his arm when Mukhtar Ansari's Quami Ekta Dal (QED) decided to support his candidature from the holy city.

Rai courted controversy on Monday for sporting a Congress symbol while voting in Varanasi. This was similar to what Modi did while casting his vote in a polling booth in Ahmedabad.

The BJP and AAP have demanded action against Rai for wearing the symbol of Congress party while exercising his franchise.

Meanwhile, Azamgarh would decide the fate of Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is once again banking on the Muslim-Yadav votebank equation – something which he has mastered over the years. Mulayam is also contesting from his traditional Mainpuri seat in Uttar Pradesh.

The prominent candidates in Bihar in the final phase of polling are filmmaker Prakash Jha (Western Champaran)and former union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh ( Vaishali).

Over nine crore voters are expected to decide the fate of 606 candidates in this phase.

Counting of votes in all the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies will be taken up on May 16. An average of 66 percent voters exercised their franchise in the last eight phases.

(JPN)

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