Turnout Final phase

Over 61 per cent turnout was recorded in the 57 seats across 8 states/UT that went to polls in the seventh phase of the Lok Sabha elections on Saturday, bringing the mammoth electoral exercise to its close, the Election Commission said.

"Polling in seventh phase of General Elections recorded an approximate voter turnout of 61.63 per cent as of 11.45 p.m. The same shall continue to be updated by the field level officers as polling parties keep returning and will be available PC wise (along with respective AC segments) live at VTR App, as was the case in earlier phases," the poll panel said in a statement.

As per the EC, the maximum turnout in the final phase was recorded in West Bengal (9 seats) at 73.36 per cent and the lowest in Bihar at 51.92 per cent.

Odisha (6 seats) recorded 70.67 per cent, Jharkhand (3 seats) 70.66 per cent, Himachal Pradesh (4 seats) logged 69.67 per cent, the UT of Chandigarh 67.9 per cent in its sole seat, Punjab (13 seats) 58.33 per cent, and UP (13 seats) 55.89 per cent.

There were 908 candidates in the fray, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Varanasi) heading the list of prominent candidates.

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Other top BJP candidates included Union Ministers Anurag Thakur in Himachal Pradesh's Hamirpur and Pratap Sarangi from Odisha's Balasore, former Union Ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad from Patna Sahib and Preneet Kaur from Patiala, actress Kangana Ranaut in Himachal Pradesh's Mandi, and ex-IFS officer and former envoy to US Taranjit Singh Sandhu (Amritsar).

Congress candidates included former Union Ministers Manish Tewari in Chandigarh and Anand Sharma from Himachal's Kangra, former Himachal CM Virbhadra Singh's son Vikramaditya Singh in Mandi, Ajay Rai in Varanasi, former Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi from Jalandhar, and state unit chief Amarinder Singh Raja Warring from Ludhiana.

Other significant candidates were West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee's nephew Abhishek Banerjee, seeking to retain his Diamond Harbour seat, SAD leader and former Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal again in the fray from Bathinda, Samajwadi Party's Kajal Nishad from Gorakhpur, where the Bhojpuri actress took on industry star and sitting BJP MP Ravi Kishan, CPIM's Sujan Chakraborty against sitting Trinamool MP Sougata Roy in Dum Dum and Saira Shah Halim against sitting Trinamool MP Mala Roy in Kolkata Dakshin, and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav's eldest daughter Misa Bharti from Pataliputra.

In Odisha, 42 Assembly constituencies went to polls simultaneously with the Parliamentary Constituencies, while bypolls to 6 Assembly constituencies - whose outcome will determine the fate of the state's Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu-led Congress government - were also held in Himachal Pradesh.

"The Election Commission of India extended its deepest and most profound gratitude to voters, all the stakeholders including polling personnel, law enforcement agencies, security and paramilitary forces, volunteers, Indian Railways and Indian Air Force, amongst many who made this mammoth exercise a grand success."

"Stringent security measures were in place creating a conducive environment for voters to cast their vote without fear or intimidation, it said, adding that with meticulous advance planning and rigorous training of election officials, elections this time have seen a drastic reduction in the number of repolls demonstrating the robustness of the election process," the EC said in a statement after the polling.

Counting of votes for the Lok Sabha election is slated for June 4, along with counting for the Andhra Pradesh and Odisha Assemblies. Vote counting for Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim Assembly polls will be held on Sunday while counting for their Lok Sabha seats will be held with the rest of the country.

(With inputs from IANS)