Key contests to watch out for in seventh and final phase of LS polls 2019
New Delhi, May 14: The final phase of the quinquennial Lok Sabha elections would be held on May 19, 2019, during which 59 parliamentary seats would vote. All the parliamentary constituencies in Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab would vote during the last phase. Of these 59 seats that are voting on May 19, the BJP-led NDA had won 40 in 2014.
The seventh and the last phase of polls is crucial for both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Opposition. Some of the high-profile constituencies that will go to polls in the seventh phase includes Patna Sahib (Bihar), Chandigarh, Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Amritsar (Punjab), Gorakhpur and Ghazipur (both UP).
The constituency that Yogi Adityanath represented for five terms before vacating it in 2017 was wrested away from the BJP in a bypoll. Samajwadi Party's Praveen Kumar Nishad defeated BJP's Upendra Dutt Shukla by a margin of 21,881 votes in the by elections, dealing a blow to the BJP's prestige. The BJP is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that Gorakhpur is back in their kitty. With SP, BSP and RLD forming a magathbandhan, and Congress and BJP in the fray, Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency is set for a three-way contest.
This time, BJP has fielded actor-turned-politician Ravi Kishan from the constituency. He is up against Congress' Madhusudan Tiwari and SP's Ram Bhuwal Nishad.
One cause of worry for the BJP is that out of the 20 lakh population of Gorakhpur, BJP's traditional vote bank - the Brahmins and the Upper Caste- are just 4 lakh. The BSP and the SP are contesting the Lok Sabha polls together and are claiming to stop the BJP juggernaut with their carefully stitched alliance based on caste equations.
Patna Sahib Lok Sabha seat in Bihar is one of those seats that is being keenly watched by the political analysts and media. For, sitting dissident Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Shatrughan Sinha is contesting this time on a Congress ticket and he would be facing BJP candidate Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. Due to its large Kayastha (upper caste) population, Patna Sahib seat is considered one of the safest seats for BJP in India. It was created from the erstwhile Patna Lok Sabha constituency in 2008 after delimitation and that made it an urban seat.
The second seat that came into existence after the delimitation is Patliputra. Sinha, who is a Kayastha, has been winning Patna Sahib seat since 2009. He is eyeing to make a hat-trick by defeating Prasad, who is also a Kayastha and like Sinha, belongs to Patna. Prasad, however, is contesting Lok Sabha election for the first time. According to the sources, the BJP high command has tasked Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi and Patliputra MP Ram Kripal Yadav to ensure a sounding defeat of rebel Sinha.
The Union territory (UT) is the capital of two states, Punjab and Haryana, and has one Lok Sabha seat with 6,19,792 eligible voters. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has repeated its sitting MP Kirron Kher and the Congress has given the ticket to former Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who won the seat for the party in 1991, 1999, 2004, and 2009. In 2014, Kher defeated Bansal by a margin of 69643 votes. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Gul Panag was on the third spot by bagging 108679 votes.
AAP has replaced Gul Panag with Harmohan Dhawan, a senior BJP leader who joined AAP in November 2018. Dhawan's candidature has made the fight triangular. Chances are that Dhawan might take away traditional BJP votes as he had supported Kirron Kher in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Dhawan has been telling voters that Kher has ignored them after winning the election as most of the time she stayed away from Chandigarh.
Congress candidate Bansal has also been targeting Kirron Kher by saying that she didn't keep even her single promise of 2014. Both Dhawan and Bansal have been cornering Kher by raising issues such as unemployment, water scarcity, drugs and the crime committed by the addicts
Voting in Punjab will be held on May 19 in the seventh phase of Lok Sabha elections and electoral battle in Amritsar is between diplomat-turned-politician Union minister Hardeep Puri and sitting MP Gurjeet Aujla of the Congress. In 2014 polls, the seat witnessed a fierce battle between Captain Amarinder Singh and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley in which the former triumphed.
Puri is projecting himself as someone who is capable of bringing mega-projects to the area while Aujla is trying to cash in on his local connect, terming his opponent as a migratory bird.
Aujla, who is a Jat-Sikh fits well in the caste calculations for the seat. He claims himself to be a 'son-of-the-soil' while terming Puri as an 'outsider', Puri meanwhile is banking on the Modi factor and the central ministry he holds.
Indore Lok Sabha constituency is highly urban in nature. Nicknamed "Little Mumbai", Indore is the commercial nerve-centre of Madhya Pradesh. The seat has long been held by Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
Last month, the eight-term parliamentarian wrote an open letter and declared that she would not contest the Lok Sabha polls. Mahajan is popularly known as Tai in Indore constituency that she has represented since 1989. She is the longest-serving woman MP currently in Parliament.
The BJP has fielded Shankar Lalwani, the chairperson of the Indore Development Authority, from the Indore parliamentary seat. He is up against Congress' Pankaj Sanghvi and BSP's Deepchan Ahirwal.
All the eight seats in the final round of polls in Madhya Pradesh are in Malwa-Nimar region, which has seen a shift in power from the BJP to the Congress between the last Lok Sabha election and the assembly election held in 2018.