Phase 6 of the Lok Sabha Elections are being conducted on today. 8 seats in Bihar, all 7 seats in Delhi, all 10 in Haryana, 4 in Jharkhand, 8 in Madhya Pradesh, 14 in Uttar Pradesh and 8 in West Bengal are going to polls in the penultimate phase of the 17th General Elections. The fate of 59 constituencies will be decided by the voters on Sunday.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had performed very well in these seats in 2014. They had made a clean sweep of Delhi, won 7 of the 8 in Bihar and won 7 in Haryana. In MP, BJP won 7 of the 8 seats going to polls on Sunday and all the four in Jharkhand. Again, in Uttar Pradesh, it won 12 of the 14 while in West Bengal, all the seats went to Trinamool. Thus, the party managed to secure 44 of the 59 seats that went to polls. If the BJP is to repeat its performance from 2014, then it has to win at least the same number of seats from this phase as well.
The 6th phase of the elections will see some extremely key individual battles. Here, we look at some of them.
1. Gautam Gambhir vs Atishi Marlena
Gautam Gambhir goes up against Atishi Marlena from the Aam Aadmi Party on Sunday from East Delhi. The battle has turned ugly in recent times with the Aam Aadmi Party candidate and her comrades accusing the former cricketer of distributing pamphlets containing slanderous and vulgar content against her.
Gambhir has firmly denied these allegations and sent a defamation notice to the individuals concerned. He has also asserted that he would quit politics if the allegations are proven to be true. Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has sent Gambhir a defamation notice of his for saying that he is ashamed of having Kejriwal as the CM of Delhi.
Under such circumstances, the individual battle has assumed a significance of its own. While Gambhir does appear to have the upper edge, the allegations could very well affect his chances.
2. Sadhvi Pragya vs Digvijay Singh
One of the most hyped up battles of 2019 will be played out in Bhopal. On one hand, we have Sadhvi Pragya, widely believed to be a victim of the UPA’s ‘Hindu Terror’ initiative, and on the other, we have Digvijay Singh from the Congress party who attended the launch of a book that blamed the RSS for the Mumbai Terror Attack.
While the entire secular-liberal camp (SecLib) camp has been up in arms against the Sadhvi’s candidature, the Prime Minister and his party have strongly defended her nomination. The Battle for Bhopal may be one between constituencies but it has several civilizational connotations.
Sadhvi Pragya was subjected to great abuse and torture while in captivity and her victory will be symbolic of the Hindu resurgence that Narendra Modi represents and is a product of.
3. Akhilesh Yadav vs Nirahua
An interesting battle has been panning out in the Samajwadi Party bastion of Azamgarh. Akhilesh Yadav will contest from the seat that was won by his father, Mulayam, in 2014. His primary opponent this time is Bhojpuri Superstar Dinesh Lal Yadav ‘Nirahua’ from the BJP.
While pundits give Akhilesh a distinct advantage, Nirahua has been drawing in huge crowds at his rallies. The BJP candidate enjoys great popularity among the youth and those in the middle-income category. Thus, his candidature is believed by many to be a political masterstroke by the saffron party.
Interestingly enough, Nirahua was conferred with Uttar Pradesh’s prestigious Yash Bharti award by Akhilesh Yadav in 2016. Three years later, they are sworn political foes.
4. Manoj Tiwari vs Sheila Dixit
The Bhojpuri Superstar goes against the three-time Delhi CM Sheila Dixit from the Congress party and Dilip Pandey from the Aam Aadmi Party in a triangular contest in North East Delhi. Tiwari enjoys great popularity and is expected to retain the seat.
In 2014, Tiwari had secured over 45% of the votes. Since it’s a triangular contest yet again and Narendra Modi’s popularity remains extremely high in the national capital, he is expected to pull through yet again although the Congress party has fielded a heavyweight this time around.
5. Other high profile candidates in the fray
Jyotiraditya Scindia is contesting from Guna, a Congress stronghold, and only one of the two seats the party had managed to secure in 2014. Maneka Gandhi is up for election from Sultanpur, the seat won by her son Feroze Varun Gandhi in 2014 with a vote-share of over 42%, and is expected to retain the seat for the BJP. Rita Bahuguna Joshi will be contesting from Allahabad, a seat that was won by the BJP with a victory margin of 62,000 in 2014. Former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda will be contesting from Rohtak against Ramesh Chander Kaushik from the BJP.