Spotlight on Delhi & Purvanchal; Pragya Thakur, Digvijaya Singh Battle It Out in Bhopal in Phase 6
In the politically vital state of Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav and Union minister Maneka Gandhi are among the key contestants.
Security personnel leave after collecting electronic voting machines and other polling material in Bihar's East Champaran district ahead of the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha elections. (PTI )
New Delhi: The penultimate phase of the Lok Sabha elections on Sunday will see seven states go to polls, with more than 10.17 crore voters who are eligible to exercise their franchise to choose among the 979 candidates in fray.
Fourteen seats in Uttar Pradesh, 10 in Haryana, eights constituencies each in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, seven seats in Delhi and four in Jharkhand will witness polling. The Election Commission has set up more than 1.13 lakh polling stations for smooth conduct.
The battle for Bhopal is one of the biggest clashes in the sixth phase. The Lok Sabha seat, which has elected late president Shankar Dayal Sharma and Union minister Uma Bharti in the past, is facing a clash of ideologies this time. The BJP’s support base in the Madhya Pradesh capital will be put to test when Pragya Singh Thakur, a political novice, takes on Congress stalwart Digvijaya Singh in what is billed as one of the most interesting fights of this Lok Sabha polls.
From MP’s Guna, AICC general secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia is contesting while Union minister and BJP nominee Narendra Singh Tomar is in the fray from Morena.
In the national capital, voting will be held in all the seven seats. As many as 164 candidates, including 18 women, are in the fray. It is expected to be a three-cornered fight involving the BJP, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress.
Prominent candidates include veteran Congress leader Sheila Dikshit, Olympian boxer Vijender Singh, Union minister Harsh Vardhan, AAP’s Atishi and her BJP rival cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir.
In West Bengal’s Purulia, the BJP has emerged as a force to reckon with as the Trinamool Congress hopes to ride on development to victory.
Following its impressive show in the 2018 panchayat elections in Purulia, the BJP is upbeat about wresting the Lok Sabha seat from the Trinamool. Left Front constituent AIFB, which held the seat from 1977 to 2011 before losing it to the Trinamool, is also positive about regaining its lost glory.
Large parts of Purulia became Maoist strongholds for a few years towards the latter part of the 34-year Left Front rule in the state. Subsequently, the Jangalmahal area, comprising forested areas spread over the districts of Bankura, Purulia, West Midnapore and Jhargram, was freed from red terror by joint forces.
In the politically vital state of Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav and Union minister Maneka Gandhi are among the key contestants. Polling will be held in Sultanpur, Pratapgarh, Phulpur, Allahabad, Ambedkarnagar, Shrawasti, Domariyaganj, Basti, Sant Kabirnagar, Lalganj, Jaunpur, Machchlishahr, Bhadohi and Azamgarh constituencies in the state’s Purvanchal region.
The BJP had won 13 of these 14 constituencies in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The only exception was Azamgarh, won then by SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav. Akhilesh Yadav's decision to contest from his father's bastion is being touted as a move to consolidate the Yadav, Dalit and Muslim voters in Purvanchal.
Sultanpur, too, will witness an interesting contest, with the BJP fielding Union minister Maneka Gandhi from the seat won by her son Varun Gandhi in 2014. It could be a tricky situation for the minister as BJP strategists are relying on a division of Congress and ‘gathbandhan’ votes, besides a possible counter-polarisation of non-Yadav and non-Jatav Dalit and OBC votes.
In Bihar, eight seats will vote on Sunday. Four sitting MPs, including a member of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet, are among the 127 candidates whose electoral fortunes will be decided by 1.38 crore voters. Polling will be held in Sheohar, Valmiki Nagar, Pashchimi Champaran, Purvi Champaran, Siwan, Gopalganj, Maharajganj and Vaishali.
The sixth phase here holds significance for the NDA, which had won all eight seats in 2014 - seven bagged by the BJP, and Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) winning from Vaishali.
The BJP has given up three of its seats - Valmiki Nagar, Siwan and Gopalganj - in favour of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U), which returned to the NDA fold in 2017.
Among the key candidates is Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, who will seek to retain Purvi Champaran, a seat he has represented five times. The 69-year-old BJP veteran is locked in a virtually straight contest with RLSP's greenhorn Akash Singh - less than half his age.
In Siwan, two women married to local musclemen will slug it out. The JD(U) has fielded local MLA Kavita Singh, who is married to Ajay Singh. Ajay Singh was denied a ticket by the JD(U) because of his involvement in criminal cases.
The RJD, meanwhile, has once again placed its bets on Heena Shahab, who lost as the party’s candidate in the last two elections. She is married to Mohd Shahabuddin, a four-time MP currently serving sentence in a double-murder case.
In Jharkhand, polling will be held in Dhanbad, Giridih, Jamshedpur and Singhbhum (ST) seats, all won by the BJP in 2014.
(With inputs from PTI)
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