Lok Sabha elections: 5 key electoral battles to watch out for in fourth phase
New Delhi, Apr 29: The voting for the fourth phase in the Lok Sabha election 2019 is underway and by the end of the day around 68 per cent of the world's largest election would have been completed. In the first three phases, voting for 302 seats of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies have been completed, and today polling is being held in 72 parliamentary seats. Three more phases remain after today's round of polling.
Out of the 72 seats which are voting today, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had in 2014 won 45, while the sffaron party's allies had won another 11. The Congress had won just 2 while other opposition parties could win just 13. So, it would be interesting to see how many the BJP manages to retain or how many would the opposition be able to wrest from the ruling party.
Here are top five battle to watch out for in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections:
In 2014, Asansol in West Bengal was one of the two seats that the BJP could win in Trinamool Congress (TMC)'s bastion, the other one being Darjeeling. Many dubbed it as a surprise win when singer Babul Supriyo of the BJP defeated TMC's Dola Sen by a margin of 70,000 votes which may not be a huge margin, but still a significant one. While, two seats out of the 42 in West Bengal may not seem like much, but two things are worth noticing and these can have a bearing on 2019 elections. The BJP's vote-share shot up from 6.14 per cent in 2009 to 17.02 per cent in 2014. The BJP finished a clear, but distant, second in the 2018 panchayat elections in the state, while the Communist Party of India-Marxist)(CPI-M), which ruled the state for decades, ended up in third place. The fight in Asansol this time is between sitting BJP MP and Union Minister Supriyo and Trinamool's Moon Moon Sen, a veteran actor. While the fight on the ground is between Supriyo and Sen, in the larger context, it is a battle of prestige between Narendra Modi and Mamata Banerjee.
Its a three cornered contest in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao between sitting BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj, Congress' Annu Tandon and Samajwadi Party (SP)'s Arun Shankar Shukla. Interestingly, the main contest was between same three even in 2014 in which Sakshi Maharaj triumphed and that too with a massive margin of over 3 lakh votes. SP's Arun Shankar Shukla ended up in second place while then sitting MP, Annu Tandon, ended in fourth place behind Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate. Maharaj has claimed that he has done developmental work in the constituenncy. He even reportedly asked people to vote for him by saying that he is a 'sanyasi' and when a 'sanyasi' asks for 'bhiksha' (alms), he must not be turned back.
The main contest in Rajasthan's Jodhpur is between Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot son Vaibhav Gehlot. On the ground, it is fight between veterean Gajendra Singh and Vaibhav, while in a larger context it is a presttige battle between senior Gehlot and Modi-Shah. The major part of the campaigning for Vaibhav was done by his Chief Minister father, who has been camping on and off in the constituency ever since his son was named as the candidate. Ashok Gehlot who won the seat five times since 1980 is going all out to ensure a successful political debut of his son. But Shekhawat has a strong community hold and won by a margin of over 4 lakh votes in 2014.
Begusarai is known as the 'Leningrad of India' and the seat immediately made headlines when it became known that former JNU students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar would be contesting from here. Kanhaiya shot to fame after a sedition case was slapped against him and others in connection with a rally in Delhi's JNU in which pro-Afzal Guru slogans were raised. He is taking on Union Minister and senior BJP leader Giriraj Singh who was initially reluctant to fight from the seat but agreed in the end. Kanhaiya is fighting election as a candidate of the CPI and battle for Begusarai is triangular because Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)'s Tanveer Hassan is also in fray. Hassan is said to have strong vote base in this Muslim-dominated constituency.
Several prominent personalities from the bollywood were seen campaigning for Kanhaiya. Hailing from a small town in Bihar's Begusarai district, Kanhaiya came to JNU to pursue his PHD in international relations. His father is a farmer and mother an anganwadi worker. He endorses Left ideology.
Kannauj had sent Socialist thinker Ram Manohar Lohia (in 1967) and SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav (in 1999) to Parliament. The seat is currently held by former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav's wife, Dimple Yadav. Dimple lost her first political battle in Firozabad in 2009 against Congress' Raj Babbar, and scored her first win from Kannauj Lok Sabha seat when she won the 2012 by-election. She was elected unopposed in the by-poll held after her husband's resignation as Lok Sabha member when he became Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. She retained the seat in 2014 Lok Sabha election, but with a slender margin of 20,000 votes against BJP's Subrat Pathak.
With support from the BSP and the RLD and the Congress deciding not to field a candidate, Dimple should have an easy run, theoretically. Her rival Pathak rides on his personal popularity, besides the 'Modi factor' - which is evident in both the rural and urban segments. Afterall Kannauj is in Uttar Pradesh, where BJP stormed to power in 2017.