Phase 5 of the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections on Monday, May 6, will see multiple high profile battles involving some of the top leaders from both camps.
The most hotly contested constituency, perhaps, will go to polls in this phase, Amethi, where Union Minister Smriti Irani has been campaigning hard to penetrate the bastion of the Nehru-Gandhi Parivar. In Rae Bareli, Sonia Gandhi is expected to win comfortably.
Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is up for reelection from Jaipur (Rural) while Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s fate will be decided by the voters of Lucknow in this phase. Another Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal will contest from 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, actress Locket Chatterjee will contest from Hooghly.
Here, let us look into the dynamics of these contests in greater detail.
1. Rahul Gandhi vs Smriti Irani
In 2014, Rahul Gandhi defeated Smriti Irani by a margin of just over one lakh votes. Although the victory margin appears quite significant, it was a far cry from 2009 when the margin for Rahul Gandhi’s victory was almost 4 lakh votes.
This time around, the scene appears to have changed completely. Not only is a much closer fight expected, but Amethi is also no longer a safe seat for the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi parivar. The constituency, which for a long time has been a bastion for the Family, is seriously a toss-up seat and could go either way.
That is perhaps what motivated the Congress high command to have Rahul Gandhi contest from Wayanad in Kerala where Hindus are in the minority. If Smriti Irani does secure a victory from Amethi, which appears very possible at this point, it will be a great symbolic victory for the BJP and also augment Irani’s stature within the party.
2. Jaipur (Rural)
Olympic Silver Medalist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore had won this seat comprehensively in 2014 in what eventually was a clean sweep for the BJP in the state. The margin of his victory was upwards of 3 lakh 30 thousand. His main contender then was Dr C.P. Joshi from the Congress party.
Rathore’s main competitor this time around is the sitting MLA from the Sadulpur Assembly Constituency, Krishna Poonia, of the Congress party. Poonia, like Rathore, has represented India in sports in international events as well and was the first Indian woman athlete to win the Gold Medal in Commonwealth Games.
In the Rajasthan Assembly Elections last year, the Bharatiya Janata Party did not perform well in the Jaipur (Rural) Assembly constituencies. The party won only two while the Congress secured 5 and one went to an independent candidate. The dynamics of General Elections is, of course, completely different from Assembly Elections. Therefore, Rathore is still expected to secure a victory as every vote for the BJP translates into a vote for Narendra Modi. However, the margin of victory may not be as great as it was the last time around.
3. Hazaribagh, Jharkhand
Jayant Sinha, son of newly minted staunch BJP critic Yashwant Sinha, is the BJP candidate from the constituency. In 2014, Sinha had won the seat by a margin of over 1.5 lakh votes securing 406931 votes. The runner-up, then, was Saurabh Narain Singh from the Congress party.
In 2019, the Congress party has fielded Gopal Sahu from the constituency and CPI’s candidate Bhubaneshwar Prasad Mehta, too, is expected to impact the results significantly. The Congress has secured an alliance with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Jharkhand Vikas Morcha- P and RJD. Therefore, the battle is expected to be more difficult for the BJP and Sinha personally this time around.
There are rumours that the JMM is displeased with the Congress party for not being given the seat which has a significant SC/ST population. Therefore, there is a distinct possibility that they might attempt to undermine their alliance partner themselves.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh will seek reelection to the Parliament from the same constituency which he had won in 2014. Last time around, Singh’s victory margin was over 2 lakh 70 thousand against Congress candidate Rita Bahuguna Joshi. He had secured over 54% of the votes.
Joshi has, since then, jumped ship and joined the BJP. Therefore, the Congress has fielded Acharya Pramod Krishnam, sometimes referred to as Islamacharya and Maulana due to his less than conventional opinions, from the constituency this time around. The BSP-SP alliance candidate for Lucknow is Punam Sinha.
Despite the alliance between the SP and BSP, the seat looks pretty secure for the BJP. The victory margin may not be as large as 2014 but Rajnath Singh appears almost certain to retain his seat.