Balloting in the five-phase Indian elections draw to a close on Wednesday with voters in seven states and two union territories deciding the fate of 1,432 candidates, including union ministers P Chidambaram and Mani Shanker Aiyar who are contesting from Tamil Nadu.
Polling will be held in 86 constituencies with 107 million voters eligible to exercise their franchise to choose their nominee in the Lok Sabha. The candidates include 93 women.
The staggered elections began April 16 and the millions of votes cast would be counted May 16 to decide the outcome of one of India's most fiercely fought electoral battles that is expected to throw up a hung parliament.
In the month that was, alliances came under strain and new allies were sought in a campaign with both major coalition leaders, the Congress and the BJP, looking at a splintered verdict.
The Election Commission has set up over 121,000 polling booths to be overseen by a polling staff of 500,000. There would be 186,000 electronic voting machines.
Officials have identified 5,995 villages and hamlets as vulnerable, apprehending that there could be trouble.
Testing their electoral luck will be Home Minister P. Chidambaram (Congress) from Sivaganga and his colleague, Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shanker Aiyar, from Mayiladuthurai.
Polling will be held in Tamil Nadu (39 seats), Uttar Pradesh (14), West Bengal (11), Punjab (nine), Uttarakhand (five), Himachal Pradesh (four) and Jammu and Kashmir (two). Balloting will take place for one seat each in the union territories Chandigarh and Puducherry.
Image: Activists wear masks of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and BJP Prime Ministerial candidate LK Advani during a voting awareness programme in Amritsar on May 12, 2009.
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