On May 19, last round of voting will be held for the Lok Sabha elections bringing to an end the mammoth seven-phase exercise that saw millions of Indians voting to choose who will represent them in the 17th Lok Sabha.
In the 7th phase, 59 seats will go to polls across seven states and one Union territory to decide the fate of 909 candidates. An electorate of 99,768,185 is expected to vote in 100,304 polling booths set up for the purpose.
Among the states voting are Bihar (8 seats), Jharkhand (3), Punjab (13), West Bengal (9), Himachal Pradesh (4), Madhya Pradesh (8) and Uttar Pradesh (13) and one seat in the Union Territory of Chandigarh.
Some of the key candidates in the fray are Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rajyavardhan Rathore, Union ministers Manoj Sinha and Ravi Shankar Prasad, Sunny Deol, Kirron Kher (all BJP), Harsimrat Kaur Badal of SAD, Shatrughan Sinha, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Preneet Kaur (Congress), Misa Bharti (RJD) and Abhishek Banerjee (Trinamool).
In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP is facing a tough fight in the 13 Lok Sabha constituencies as it will largely be a straight fight between the BJP and the SP-BSP alliance on ten seats while two – Kushinagar and Deoria – are in for a triangular contest with the Congress.
In 2014, the BJP and allies had won all these seats — Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria, Bansgaon, Ghosi, Salempur, Ballia, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur and Robertsganj.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Varanasi constituency looks largely predictable, the saffron party is on shaky ground in the other constituencies against the SP-BSP alliance.
In West Bengal, several heavyweights, including chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, TMC’s leader in the 16thLok Sabha Sudip Bandyopadhyay and BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha are in the fray, along with TMC’s political greenhorns, actor-turned politicians Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan.
Eight of the seats have been with the TMC since 2009. Joynagar went to a TMC-backed Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) candidate in 2009, while in 2014 TMC won it.
In Madhya Pradesh, Malwa-Nimad region will vote on May 19. BJP had won all the eight parliamentary constituencies in the region in 2014 polls.
The Congress draws strength from the statistics of state assembly elections held hardly six months back when it won 35 seats against its rival BJP’s 28 and Independent 3.
The BJP is confident about repeating its performance of 2014 this time given the ‘Narendra Modi wave’ and what it claims as the failure of the state government to fulfill its promises.
In Punjab, the Lok Sabha election is being seen as a mid-term test of popularity for CM Amarinder Singh-led Congress government.
The Congress, which swept to power with a two-thirds majority in the 2017 assembly polls after ten years, is facing the SAD-BJP combine, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Punjab Democratic Alliance, a coalition of small parties. Though the ruling party is upbeat about the results, it is weighed down by internal fight and allegations of unkept promises.
In Bihar, all eyes will be on four Union ministers, who are facing tough battles to retain their parliamentary constituencies.
A total of 15,252,608 voters will decide the fates of 157 candidates, including ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, Ram Kripal Yadav, Ashwani Choubey and RK Singh, in Patna Sahib, Pataliputra, Arrah, Buxar, Nalanda, Sasaram, Karakat and Jahanabad on May 19.
These seats are crucial for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as it had won all of them in the last general election in 2014.
In Jharkhand, 44.8 lakh voters will exercise their franchise choosing their representative from among 42 candidates across Dumka, Rajmahal and Godda Lok Sabha seats. The BJP is eyeing to make inroads into the tribal-dominated Santhal Parganas division which is considered a stronghold of Shibu Soren-led front.
In Himachal Pradesh, it is set to be a high-stakes battle for both the ruling BJP and opposition Congress in the northern state where politics has broadly been bipolar.
Riding on the Modi wave, the BJP had won all the four Lok Sabha seats — Mandi, Kangra, Shimla and Hamirpur — in the last general election in 2014. While the BJP is eyeing to repeat its 2014 success, for Congress it is a battle of prestige.
In Chandigarh, BJP’s Kirron Kher is tied in contest with four-time former lawmaker and Congress candidate Pawan Kumar Bansal. The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP’s) Harmohan Dhawan makes the third contender in the fight.
|Arrah||Rajkumar Singh, BJP|
|Buxar||Ashwini Kumar Choubey, BJP|
|Sasaram||Chhedi Paswan, BJP|
|Karakat||Upendra Kushwaha, RLSP|
|Jahanabad||Arun Kumar, Rashtriya Lok Samta Party|
|Nalanda||Kaushalendra Kumar, JD(U)|
|Patna Sahib||Shatrughan Sinha, BJP (now with Congress)|
|Patliputra||Ram Kripal Yadav, BJP|
|Amritsar||Gurjeet Singh Aujla, Congress|
|Anandpur Sahib||Prem Singh Chandumajra, SAD|
|Bathinda||Harsimrat Kaur, SAD|
|Faridkot (SC)||Sadhu Singh, AAP|
|Fatehgarh Sahib (SC)||Harinder Singh Khalsa, AAP|
|Ferozepur||Sher Singh Ghubaya, SAD|
|Gurdaspur||Sunil Jakhar, Congress|
|Hoshiarpur (SC)||Vijay Sampla, BJP|
|Jalandhar (SC)||Santokh Singh Chaudhary, Congress|
|Khadoor Sahib||Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, SAD (SAD-Taksali)|
|Ludhiana||Ravneet Singh Bittu, Congress|
|Patiala||Dharamvira Gandhi, AAP|
|Sangrur||Bhagwant Mann, AAP|
|Chandigarh||Kirron Kher, BJP|
|Kangra||Shanta Kumar, BJP|
|Hamirpur||Anurag Thakur, BJP|
|Mandi||Ramswaroop Sharma, BJP|
|Shimla||Virender Kashyap, BJP|
|Godda||Nishikant Dubey, BJP|
|Dumka||Shibu Soren, JMM|
|Rajmahal||Vijay Hansdak, JM|
|Ballia||Bharat Singh, BJP|
|Bansgaon||Kamlesh Paswan, BJP|
|Chandauli||Mahendra Nath Pandey, BJP|
|Deoria||Kalraj Mishra, BJP|
|Ghazipur||Manoj Sinha, BJP|
|Ghosi||Harinarayan Rajbhar, BJP|
|Gorakhpur||Praveen Kumar Nishad, SP|
|Kushi Nagar||Rajesh Pandey, BJP|
|Salempur||Ravindra Kushwaha, BJP|
|Varanasi||Narendra Modi, BJP|
|Mirzapur||Anupriya Patel, Apna Dal|
|Maharajganj||Pankaj Chaudhary, BJP|
|MADHYA PRADESH (8)|
|Dewas||Manohar Untwal, BJP|
|Dhar||Savitri Thakur, BJP|
|Indore||Sumitra Mahajan (BJP)|
|Khandwa||Nandkumar Singh Chouhan (BJP)|
|Khargone||Subhash Patel, BJP|
|Mandsaur||Sudhir Gupta, BJP|
|Ratlam||Kantilal Bhuria, Congress|
|Ujjain||Prof Chintamani Malviya, BJP|
|Barasat||Kakali Ghosh Dastidar, Trinamool|
|Basirhat||Idris Ali, Trinamool Congress|
|Joynagar||Pratima Mondal, Trinamool Congress|
|Mathurapur||Choudhury Mohan Jatua, Trinamool Congress|
|Diamond Harbour||Abhishek Banerjee, Trinamool Congress|
|Kolkata South||Subrata Bakshi, Trinamool Congress|
|Jadavpur||Sugata Bose, Trinamool Congress|
|Kolkata North||Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Trinamool Congress|
|Dumdum||Saugata Roy, Trinamool Congress|
(Courtesy: Hindustan Times)