New Delhi: In the seventh and final phase of LS election in 59 parliamentary seats, over 10.17 crore voters across seven states and one UT are ready to decide the fate of 918 candidates on Sunday. The states which will go to the poll on Sunday are Punjab (13), UP (13), Bengal (9), Bihar (8), MP (8), Himachal (4), Jharkhand (3) and Chandigarh (1). In 2014, BJP had won 30 of the 59 seats. Let’s take a look at the key constituencies in the concluding phase of the LS election.
Varanasi (UP): Narendra Modi (BJP), Ajay Rai (Congress) and Shalini Yadav (SP). Main factors and issues: Modi is banking on development, not only in Varanasi but across India, as also on his image as a strong leader. The BJP is leaving no stone unturned to ensure a big victory for him, something which Modi had achieved in 2014 when he defeated Arvind Kejriwal of the AAP by over 3.7 lakh votes.
Political pundits opine people may raise questions, but there is absolutely no contest in Varanasi. Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi also held a roadshow in favour of Ajay Rai while BSP supremo Mayawati and SP leader Akhilesh Yadav held a joint rally in support of Shalini Yadav.
Gorakhpur (UP): Ravi Kishan (BJP), Rambhual Nishad (SP) and Madhusudan Tripathi (Cong). Main factors and issues: Regarded as the fiefdom of the Gorakhnath peeth, the Nishads hold the key on this seat. Being the home turf of UP CM Yogi Adityanath from where Bhojpuri film star Ravi Kishan is contesting on a BJP ticket, the constituency with 19.54 lakh voters has emerged as one of the high-profile seats in the state.
The main contest appears to be between Kishan and alliance nominee Nishad. This is a seat the BJP is keen to wrest from SP after the setback in the 2018 by-polls when Yogi’s stronghold fell to the Mahagathbandhan, which made its experimental debut as an anti-BJP front in UP.
Sitting MP Praveen Nishad, who was dubbed a giant killer for the SP, has now joined the BJP. The results in 2018 had given a huge shock to BJP, while it gave a boost to the SP-BSP alliance. Praveen Nishad is the son of Sanjay Nishad, founder of the Nishad (Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal) Party, and comes from the Nishad community.
Gazhipur (UP): Manoj Sinha (BJP), Afzal Ansari (BSP).
Main factors and issues: Sinha is banking on development works and the image of PM Modi while Ansari appears strong in the social combination of the BSP-SP alliance. Ansari is the brother of jailed muscleman Mukhtar Ansari who still enjoys good support.
Mirzapur (UP): Anupriya Patel (Apna Dal), Lalitesh Pati Tripathi (Cong), Rajendra Bind (SP).
Main factors and issues: The region has 1,405,539 voters dominated by Kurmis to which Anupriya Patel belongs. However, another faction of Apna Dal, headed by her mother has supported Cong. Cong has also got support from Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) led by ex-UP Minister Om Prakash Rajbhar.
Patna Sahib (Bihar): Ravi Shankar Prasad (BJP), Shatrughan Sinha (Congress)
Main factors and issues: Sinha had won in 2014 by over 4 lakh votes on a BJP ticket. This time, he is contesting as a Cong candidate. The deciding votes would be of Kayasthas. Sinha is banking on his popularity and the RJD support, while Prasad is banking on long connection with city and Modi’s achievements.
Arrah (Bihar): Raj Kumar Singh (BJP), Raju Yadav (CPI-ML)
Main factors and issues: Arrah is the only constituency spared for CPI-ML by the Lalu Yadav-led RJD from its share of seats. With solid support of RJD and others belonging to the Grand Alliance, Raju Yadav has embarked on a direct contest with BJP nominee and sitting MP Raj Kumar Singh. Former Union home secy Singh is banking on development, especially in the power sector, and the image of Modi.
Buxar (Bihar): Ashwini Kumar Choubey (BJP), Jagdanand Singh (RJD).
Main factors and issues: Choubey is banking on Modi image. Despite being an MoS in Modi govt, locals are unhappy with him, but are fond of Modi, after the Balakot air strike. Rajputs are a key factor in this Brahmin dominated seat. If Jagdanand Singh gets even 30% of Rajput votes, Choubey will be in a spot. Yadavs and Muslims are behind Singh.
Patiliputra (Bihar): Ram Kripal Yadav (BJP), Misa Bharti (RJD). Main factors and issues: Ram Kripal Yadav, an ex-aide of RJD chief Lalu Yadav, is banking on the appeal of Modi and his development plank. Lalu’s daughter Misa is relying on public sympathy for her father, imprisoned in the fodder scam.
Gurdaspur (Punjab): Sunny Deol (BJP), Sunil Jakhar (Cong).
Main factors and issues: BJP has made national security its poll plank while Deol is playing on issues in tune with the party’s scheme of things. Sitting MP Jakhar, the son of former Cong stalwart Balram Jakhar, is banking on development besides reminding people of Cong’s contribution for the Kartarpur corridor.
Amritsar (Punjab): Hardeep Singh Puri (BJP), Gurjeet Singh Aujla (Cong). Main factors and issues: Capt Amrinder Singh, who defeated BJP’s Arun Jaitley in 2014, is leaving no stone unturned to defeat Puri, who is taking on Cong over Sam Pitroda’s hua to hua remark on the 1984 riots.