By Shakir Husain
NEW DELHI, April 17 (NNN-BERNAMA) — More than 157 million people, including 59 million in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, are eligible to vote in India’s second phase of national elections on Thursday (April 18).
The Election Commission said 1,629 candidates are in the fray in 97 Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) seats across 12 states and one federal territory.
A total of 845 candidates have filed their nominations to contest in Tamil Nadu, where 39 parliamentary seats are up for grabs.
India’s seven-phase election exercise began on April 11 and will continue until May 19.
The most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, has the largest representation in the 545-member Lok Sabha with 80 constituencies.
Voting for eight Uttar Pradesh seats was held on April 11, and another eight will be covered in the second phase.
Analysts believe whoever wins in Tamil Nadu and other south Indian states will play a crucial role in government formation in New Delhi next month if neither the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi nor the main opposition Indian National Congress sweeps the polls.
“Southern states will have a bigger role in this election. The BJP has a relatively small presence in the southern region so its primary objective is to win big in Uttar Pradesh,” said Mujibur Rehman, author of the book “Rise of Saffron Power: Reflections on Indian Politics”.
“Uttar Pradesh always figures prominently in any discussion on election. The state’s case is peculiar in a way that it can determine which party will rule India,” he told Bernama.
In the 2014 general election, the BJP’s landslide win was made possible by its capture of 71 seats in Uttar Pradesh.
The northern state of more than 200 million population has the distinction of giving the most number of prime ministers to India.