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8-min read

Sheila Dikshit, Gambhir, Atishi Among 13 Key Candidates Fighting it Out in Phase 6 of Lok Sabha Polls

Voting will take place for 14 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 10 in Haryana, eight seats each in West Bengal, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, seven in Delhi and four in Jharkhand on May 12.

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Updated:May 11, 2019, 10:16 AM IST
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Sheila Dikshit, Gambhir, Atishi Among 13 Key Candidates Fighting it Out in Phase 6 of Lok Sabha Polls
L to R: BJP candidate Gautam Gambhir, AAP’s popular leader Atishi and former Delhi chief minsiter Sheila Dikshit.
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New Delhi: Over 10.17 crore voters across seven states will decide the fate of 979 candidates in 59 constituencies on Sunday by casting their votes in the sixth phase of Lok Sabha elections. Voting will take place for 14 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 10 in Haryana, eight seats each in West Bengal, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, seven in Delhi and four in Jharkhand. Here’s a look at some of the prominent figures battling it out in phase 6:

Sheila Dikshit, North East Delhi, Congress: After the protracted saga of Congress-AAP alliance in New Delhi which ultimately fell through, both parties decided to go solo in the national capital, making it a triangular contest with the BJP. Delhi Congress president and former chief minister Shiela Dikshit is hoping to make a political comeback from the North East Delhi seat.

Dikshit is invoking work done during her three terms and targeting Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and BJP in her campaign. She is up against AAP’s Dilip Pandey and BJP’s Manoj Tiwari, the incumbent MP from North East Delhi. The seat has a high concentration of Purvanchalis, Muslims and migrants from Uttar Pradesh. Dikshit and Congress are banking on their traditional Muslim vote bank, which had shifted toward the AAP during Delhi Assembly polls in 2015. Both Pandey and Tiwari are Purvanchalis themselves, so Dikshit’s political return won’t be easy.

Ajay Maken, New Delhi, Congress: Ajay Maken is contesting from the New Delhi seat, his former stomping ground, and is up against BJP’s incumbent MP Meenakshi Lekhi and AAP’s Brijesh Goyal.

Maken had won from the seat in 2004 and 2009, but finished third in 2014. While the AAP candidate is pitching for full statehood for Delhi, Maken has said the national capital would become as bad as ‘UP and Bihar’ if granted full statehood.

A big issue in the constituency is the sealing of commercial establishments, which has the traders fuming since long. Maken has said the central government and AAP government in Delhi failed to prevent the sealing drive, while Lekhi has said that Maken’s "shoddy" work as Union urban development minister was responsible for the sealing.

Arvinder Singh Lovely, East Delhi, Congress: Arvinder Singh Lovely is in a triangular contest in East Delhi, one of the most watched seats this election, against AAP’s popular leader Atishi and BJP’s star recruit Gautam Gambhir.

Both Atishi and Gambhir are heavyweights, but Lovely is an experienced legislator from Gandhi Nagar assembly seat in East Delhi and has a good grasp on the local issues. In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, BJP’s Maheish Giri had won from East Delhi and the AAP and Congress had finished second and third, respectively.

Lovely is hoping to get Sikh votes in areas such as Trilokpuri, Nizamuddin and Okhla, and has also urged Muslims -- who have traditionally voted for the Congress -- to not vote for the AAP.

Atishi, East Delhi, AAP: Hailed for her role in transforming Delhi government schools, AAP’s Atishi is a favourite from East Delhi and enjoys considerable goodwill and support for her work in the field of education. However, former India cricketer Gautam Gambhir, who is making his political debut on a BJP ticket, and Congress’s Arvinder Singh Lovely pose difficult challenges for the AAP candidate.

Atishi’s test is whether ground work will triumph over religious and caste-based polarisation. The AAP candidate was forced to drop her surname ‘Marlena’ after political opponents started spreading rumours over her religious beliefs.

Gautam Gambhir, East Delhi, BJP: Gautam Gambhir is starting his political innings from the East Delhi Lok Sabha seat on a BJP ticket, but he faces a difficult wicket. Up against him are Atishi, who is credited with the revamp of Delhi government schools, and Lovely, who has a strong grasp on local issues and enjoys a good support base.

Gambhir’s start has been shaky; he has faced multiple attacks from Atishi and has been pulled up for allegedly holding two voter IDs. He also declined Atishi’s open challenge to debate on issues, saying he did not believe in ‘debate and dharna’.

He got embroiled in another controversy on Thursday when Atishi alleged that the BJP candidate distributed lakhs of pamphlets that questioned her morals and were full of objectionable and offensive remarks about her.

But being a local and a popular former cricketer who has often voiced his political opinions, Gambhir is still a strong contender. He has promised to turn the constituency, one of the least developed in the national capital, into an ideal one. He has also benefited from BJP’s nationalism pitch.

Hans Raj Hans, North-West Delhi, BJP: Brought in to replace sitting BJP MP Udit Raj from North-West Delhi, the popular Punjabi-sufi singer is up against Congress’s Rajesh Lilothia and AAP's Gugan Singh. Both Lilothia and Singh are former legislators, but Hans is not a newcomer to politics either. His political career began with Shiromani Akalli Dal in 2019 and he also had a short stint with the Congress in 2016.

Udit Raj threw a tantrum and resigned from the saffron party after BJP announced Hans’ candidature from the seat. Both Congress and Delhi would be hoping to attract minority and Dalit votes in the constituency. A split of votes, however, could end up handing the advantage to Hans. His star power might also help him inch ahead of other candidates.

Harsh Vardhan, Chandni Chowk, BJP: Union minister and incumbent Chandni Chowk MP, Harsh Vardhan, is up for re-election form the high-profile seat. He faces challenge from Congress candidate Jai Prakash Agarwal, a four-time MP, and AAP’s Pankaj Gupta.

With a long stint as an MLA from Krishna Nagar assembly seat, Vardhan is a veteran in Delhi politics. He is banking on his experience and work as the cabinet minister in Delhi.

But he faces a strong challenge from Agarwal, who has served as an MP from Chandni Chowk in the past and is hoping to cash in on trader anger against the BJP government at the Centre.

Jyotiraditya Scindia, Guna, Congress: Jyotiraditya Scindia has held the Guna seat in Madhya Pradesh since 2002 and there is little evidence that he will be toppled this time around. Scindia, who is also the Congress general secretary for Uttar Pradesh West, is up against BJP’s KP Yadav. Guna is a Scindia stronghold and the seat has been held by the Congress leader’s father and grandmother in the past. His attention has been divided between MP and UP, and his wife Priyadarshini Raje had been campaigning on the seat in his absence. Scindia has invoked loan waivers implemented under the Congress government in his campaign speeches.

Manoj Tiwari, North East Delhi, BJP: A popular singer and actor, Manoj Tiwari is the incumbent BJP MP from North East Delhi and is also the Delhi BJP chief. Riding on the Modi wave in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Tiwari had beaten AAP candidate Anand Kumar by a margin of over one lakh votes.

The contest is likely to be tougher this time around with Congress veteran Shiela Dikshit contesting from the same seat. While the contest is likely to be a close battle between the BJP and Congress candidates, AAP leader Dilip Pandey can also affect the equation.

With actor Suniel Shetty and singer Sapna Choudhary featuring in his campaign rallies, Tiwari is evidently banking on star power to fetch votes. A Purvanchali himself, Tiwari is likely to absorb a sizable number of Purvanchali votes in the seat.

Meenakshi Lekhi, New Delhi, BJP: Meenakshi Lekhi, the incumbent MP from New Delhi seat, is confident of her win come May 23. According to her, AAP and Congress are competing among themselves and pose no threat to the BJP.

But Congress leader Ajay Maken is hoping for a comeback after the poor showing in 2014; Maken, a two-time MP from the seat had finished third in 2014. AAP’s Brijesh Goyal, a political debutant, is also likely to garner a section of votes. If the non-BJP voter is split between Maken and Goyal, Lekhi would have the clear advantage in the seat.

Raghav Chadha, South Delhi, AAP: In South Delhi’s mix of urban and rural population, AAP’s Raghav Chadha is up against boxer and Olympic bronze medalist Vijendra Singh, who is running on a Congress ticket, and BJP’s Ramesh Bidhuri, the incumbent MP from the seat.

Chadha, a chartered accountant and party spokesperson, also got some star power push to his election bid when actors Prakash Raj and Gul Panag campaigned for him. Chadha believes people will vote for him based on AAP government’s work in Delhi, but a lot could depend on caste equations in the seat. Bhiduri is a Gujjar and Singh a Jat, and both candidates are likely to attract votes from their community in the seat.

Vijendra Singh, South Delhi, Congress: Professional boxer Vijendra Singh is up against Raghav Chadha and BJP’s Ramesh Bidhuri in his political bout. The Congress would be hoping that Singh, a Jat from neighbouring Bhiwani, Harayana, would polarise the community votes. South Delhi has a sizable Jat population. Bidhuri, a Gujjar, would in turn galvanise the Gujjars in his favour.

Singh is also a poplar celebrity and a campaign push from Priyanka Gandhi is likely to help him as well.

Varun Gandhi, Pilibhit, BJP: Varun Gandhi, sitting MP from Sultanpur, has swapped seats with his mother Maneka Gandhi this Lok Sabha elections. The BJP leader, known for his controversial statements, is contesting from Pilibhit. The seat has been a stronghold for his mother, who has been elected to Parliament from the seat six times.

Gandhi is facing Samajwadi Party’s Hemraj Verma, who also has the BSP’s backing. Verma, who belongs to the Lodh caste, is banking his community to vote for him in large numbers, in addition to the Dalit and minority votes that he expects to fall in his kitty.

But Gandhi enjoys a familial bond with the constituency and is invoking that connect in his rallies in the region. Gandhi caused a stir recently with his comments on the BSP candidate in Sultanpur, while campaigning for his mother. “I am Sanjay Gandhi’s son, I get such people to untie my shoelaces,” Gandhi had said.

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