Lok Sabha polls 2019: Stage set for penultimate phase; Sheila Dikshit, Akhilesh, Digvijaya in fray
New Delhi, May 12: Voting for phase 6 of Lok Sabha elections 2019 will take place today. Over 10 crore voters will decide the fate of 979 candidates on 59 seats in seven states. Elections will be held in 14 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 10 seats in Haryana, eights constituencies each in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, seven seats in Delhi and four in Jharkhand.
Over 10.17 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to choose among the 979 candidates in fray. The Election Commission has set up over 1.13 lakh polling stations for smooth conduct of polls.
The fate of several Union ministers including Radha Mohan Singh, Harshvardhan and Maneka Gandhi, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and Congress leaders Digvijay Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia will be decided among 968 candidates in the fray.6th phase LS polls: 21 with pending crimes against women, 83 women in fray
Other important candidates include AAP leaders Atishi and Raghav Chadha, singer and BJP leader Hans Raj Hans, Congress leader and former veteran cricketer Kirti Azad, Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia. Let us take a look at the key battles ahead of the polls.
In Azamgarh this time, Akhilesh Yadav is trying to retain his father's seat against Bhojpuri film star Dinesh Lal Yadav 'Nirahua' of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
In 2016, Akhilesh Yadav had conferred the state's prestigious Yash Bharti award on Nirahua, who says that he too was getting a good response from youth and the middle-income group in the constituency.
The SP president's decision to contest from his father's bastion is being touted as a move to consolidate the Yadav, Dalit and Muslim voters in the Purvanchal region of Uttar Pradesh.
Sultanpur too is seeing an interesting contest as the BJP has fielded Union minister Maneka Gandhi for the seat won by her son Varun Gandhi in 2014.
The seats appear tricky for Maneka Gandhi as BJP strategists are relying on a division of Congress and gathbandhan votes, besides possible counter-polarisation of non-Yadav and non-Jatav Dalit and OBC votes.
The party is also hoping that the Modi factor and central welfare schemes will make the voters' repose faith in the BJP yet again in the seat vacated by Maneka Gandhi's son Varun Gandhi.
The Union minister faces Chandra Bhadra Singh of the BSP and Sanjay Singh of the Congress, who was the Sultanpur MP from 2009-14.
Scindia is seeking another term from this parliamentary constituency which he has represented since 2002. Guna was one of the two seats in Madhya Pradesh which the Congress could manage to win in 2014 Lok Sabha election. The other was Chhindwara from where Kamal Nath was elected.
Yadav was a trusted lieutenant of Scindia till 2018. He switched sides to the BJP earlier this year after the Congress denied him ticket for the bypoll.
Three-time CM Sheila Dikshit of Congress will lock horns with Bharatiya Janata Party's Delhi chief Manoj Tiwari. It marks the return of the senior Delhi Congress leader who will fight Lok Sabha elections after a decade. Dikshit brings with her enormous political experience - she had first fought in Lok Sabha elections in 1998 in a losing cause from the East Delhi seat.
Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh is fighting one of the toughest battles of his life against Malegaon blast accused Pragya Singh Thakur to regain Bhopal Lok Sabha seat for Congress after 30 years.
Singh has fought a careful election, maintaining a balance between wooing Hindu voters and courting the Muslim electorate. However, a strong Sangh network, an organised BJP camp headed by former chief ministers Uma Bharati and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and the demographics of Bhopal give Thakur an edge.
The battle of East Delhi will be between cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir and Atishi, who is considered to have changed the education affairs in the NCT. Also in the fray is Congress' former state unit chief, Arvinder Singh Lovely.