(For Early Wednesday release) Phase-II: AIADMK to defend maximum of 36 seats, BJP 26

New Delhi, April 16 (IANS) As 97 Lok Sabha constituencies go to the polls in the second phase of elections tomorrow, AIADMK has the maximum number of 36 seats to defend, followed by the BJP, which has 26 at stake.

In the second phase, which will cover 13 states, Congress has 11 seats at stake while Shiv Sena has to defend 4, BJD 3, RJD, JD(S) and CPI(M) 2 each, and JD(U), TMC, NCP, National Conference, AIUDF, PMK and AINRC one each.

Of the 97 seats going to polls tomorrow, 39 are in Tamil Nadu, 14 in Karnataka, 10 in Maharashtra, 8 in Uttar Pradesh, five each in Assam, Bihar and Odisha, three in West Bengal, two in Jammu and Kashmir, one each in Manipur, Tripura and Puducherry.

The first phase on April 11 saw voting in 91 constituencies spread across 20 states.

In Tamil Nadu, where all the 39 Lok Sabha seats will see balloting tomorrow, it is the first major election without the stalwarts – late AIADMK leader Jayalaithaa and late DMK leader M. Karunanidhi.

The 2014 Lok Sabha elections in the state were swept by the AIDMK under Jayalalithaa’s leadership, winning 37 of the total 39 seats.

In the by polls later, the party lost one seat and now has 36 seats to defend in a changed political situation after Jayalalithaa’s death.

The party faces a strong challenge from the DMK-led alliance.

The BJP, which had won one seat in the state in the last elections, is trying to emerge as a player in the southern state. It has sought to forge a “formidable alliance” led by AIADMK and is contesting five seats in the state.

Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan’s party Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) is also in the fray for the first time.

Congress, which drew a blank in 2014, is contesting nine seats as part of the front led by DMK.

Among the state’s constituencies going to the polls is Pollcahi, where sexual abuse-cum-blackmail case had created a political furore. DMK has been raking up the issue in the hope that it will hit the ruling AIADMK.

After Tamil Nadu, the biggest chunk of 14 seats going to polls tomorrow is Karnataka.

In the state, key constituencies to be watched out for include Tumkur from where former Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda is in the fray. He has left his traditional Hasaan seat for his grandson Prajwal Revanna, where BJP has fielded A Madhu.

His other grandson Nikhil Kumaraswamy is contesting from Mandya where he is locked in a tough contest with Sumalatha, actor and wife of late Kannada actor and former Union Minister M.H. Ambareesh.

The Congress, which used to be a strong rival of JD-S in southern Karnataka, is now its ally.

In the last elections, the BJP had won six of the 14 seats going to the polls in the second phase.

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