51 Lok Sabha Constituencies across 7 states will go to polls in the 5th phase of Lok Sabha elections today. The fate of 5 seats in Bihar, 2 seats in Jammu and Kashmir, 4 seats in Jharkhand, 7 in Madhya Pradesh, 12 in Rajasthan, 14 in Uttar Pradesh and 7 in West Bengal will be decided today.
Uttar Pradesh is set to witness one of the most talked about individual battles of this General Election. Voters in Amethi will choose between the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi Parivar, Rahul Gandhi, and Union Minister Smriti Irani. There have been sufficient indicators that the Congress President might lose from the seat that has been his family’s bastion for years. His move to contest from Wayanad, a safe seat considering the demography of the constituency where Hindus are in the minority, was seen in this late. Irani has been campaigning aggressively and it is expected to be a very close contest this time around after a hard-fought contest.
Sonia Gandhi’s Rae Bareli, too, will go to polls on Monday and she is expected to retain her seat quite easily. Except for Amethi and Rae Bareli, the BJP had won the other 12 seats in 2014. Home Minister Rajnath Singh is also contesting from Lucknow which goes to polls today. Samajwadi Party has fielded former BJP leader and currently Congress candidate from Patna Sahib constituency, Shatrughan Sinha’s wife Poonam Sinha against Rajnath Singh. Congress has fielded Acharya Pramod. The other UP seats going to the polls on May 6 are Dhaurahra, Sitapur, Mohanlalganj (SC), Banda, Fatehpur, Kaushambi (SC), Barabanki (SC), Faizabad, Bahraich (SC), Kaiserganj and Gonda. The BJP is expected to do well in the state in this phase as well although it remains to be seen how many it is able to retain.
Among the other high-profile candidates in the 5th phase are Union Ministers Rathore (Jaipur rural) and Meghwal (Bikaner) in Rajasthan. In Jharkhand, Union Minister Jayant Sinha, son of staunch BJP critic Yashwant Sinha, will be a candidate in this phase. In Madhya Pradesh, Union minister Virendra Kumar Khatik is BJP’s candidate from Tikamgarh.
In West Bengal, Bangaon, Barrackpore, Howrah, Uleberia, Sreerampur, Hooghly and Arambag will go to polls in the 5th phase. BJP candidate from Bongaon (SC) seat, Shantanu Thakur, was injured in a road accident when a police van lost control and hit Thakur’s vehicle when he was heading towards Kalyani to attend an election rally on the last day of campaigning. In Hooghly, the BJP candidate is Locket Chatterjee. A residence she was lodged at recently during campaigning was attacked allegedly by goons associated with the Trinamool as well.
As many as 39 seats of the 51 were won by the BJP in 2014, barring the two won by Congress in its bastions of Amethi and Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh, the seven seats in West Bengal which were won by the Trinamool Congress and another 2 which were won by the BJP’s allies RLSP and LJP in the Sitamarhi and Hajipur constituencies. The RLSP since then has gone over to the Congress while the LJP remains an ally of the BJP. Therefore, the 5th phase is extremely critical for the BJP and the party is expected to perform well this time around as well.