Voting in the 4th phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha election is currently underway. 72 seats across 9 states have gone to polls today. 17 seats in Maharashtra, 13 each in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, eight in West Bengal, six each in Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, five in Bihar, three in Jharkhand and a part of Anantnag constituency are in play in this phase.
The key battles to watch out for is the Kanhaiya vs Union Minister Giriraj Singh battle at Begusarai, Bihar. Singh is expected to win the seat while Kanhaiya is expected to avoid the third place and come second after a vigorous campaign by numerous champagne socialists in his favour. Wife of Samajwadi Party supremo Dimple Yadav is also in the fray from the bastion of Kannauj. She had won the seat by a whisker in 2014. Another candidate to watch out for is Baijayant Jay Panda who is contesting from Kendrapara in Odisha.
Of the 5 seats in Bihar, the BJP had won only 1 in 2014 and is contesting in only this time around. The JD(U) is contesting 3 and the LJP 1. While the BJP made a complete sweep in Rajasthan last time around, it looks extremely difficult for it to repeat the same feat in 2019. The situation is markedly different in Maharashtra where the Sena-BJP appears to be in pole position. If the party is to repeat its overall 2014 performance, then the party has to win a minimum of 25 of the 30 seats between these two states which appears distinctly doable.
In West Bengal, the BJP had won only 1, Asansol, of the 8 that have gone to polls today. While all the polling malpractice makes prediction difficult, at least Ranaghat appears to be in the bag for the BJP given the massive crowd at Narendra Modi’s rally in the constituency. The party is also in a contest in Bolpur and Krishnanagar. Berhampur may be the only seat that appears to be beyond BJP’s reach in this phase of the polls in Bengal.
There has been a saffron surge in Odisha as well and while pollsters have predicted a remarkable increase in the number of seats for BJP in the state, they haven’t been able to say with any confidence the number of seats it will win. Of the seats that have gone to polls today, Kendrapara appears to be its best shot.
Overall, the NDA needs to win a bare minimum of 50 seats if it wishes to retain its possibility of securing a majority in the Lok Sabha. A lot more than that is certainly possible but it cannot afford to go below that. The last time around, NDA and its allies had secured 56 of these 72 seats. It’s very much a possibility that the NDA secures 56 this time around as well by making up for its possible losses in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan by the gains it makes in West Bengal and Odisha.
This is one of the most critical phases for the BJP and it needs to perform well if it wants to keep hopes of a single party majority alive.