Nearly 140 million voters will have their say on 89 seats across seven states and two Union Territories in India as phase 7 of polling begins today (Wednesday), according to Indian media reports.
Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Indian Occupied Kashmir, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu are set to go to the polls.
Of these 89 seats, the Congress won 37 in 2009; the BJP 21; the Trinamool Congress and the Janata Dal (United) five each; the CPI(M), Shiromani Akali Dal and the Samajwadi Party four each.
Despite Gujarat chief minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Modi’s grip over his state, the Congress should not be taken lightly in the national polls.
In 2009, the Congress had won 11 of the state’s 26 Lok Sabha seats. It lost two parliamentary by-polls in 2013. The BJP will be hopeful of Modi’s drive for the top post altering the script completely in its favour.
Those in the fray in the state include Modi (from Vadodara) and veteran BJP leader L K Advani (Gandhinagar). Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry is challenging Modi in Vadodara, while senior leader Shankarsinh Vaghela is contesting from Sabarkantha. AAP, striving to emerge as the third alternative in the state, has fielded candidates in 24 constituencies.
Congress president Gandhi is in the running from Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh, but a key state in this round for the party is Andhra Pradesh, where the decision to bifurcate the state for creation of Telangana has altered the poll dynamics.
The upcoming electoral battle in Lucknow and Rae Bareli will decide the fates of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress party chiefs.
While BJP president Rajnath Singh led his own campaign, camping in the city and holding road shows, his Congress rival Sonia Gandhi was represented by her daughter-in-law Priyanka Vadra. Other key contenders for the city are the Congress’s Rita Bahuguna Joshi, the Samajwadi Party’s Abhishek Mishra, Bahujan Samaj Party’s Nakul Dubey and the Aam Aadmi Party’s Jaaved Jaffrey.
Statehood for Telangana, however, has left the Congress facing an uphill task in Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra). In Telangana too, Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrashekar Rao has shied away from a merger with the Congress.
In her final campaign pitch to Telangana, Gandhi appealed to voters to credit her party for staying true to statehood for the region in the face of political losses.
‘BJP terrorising people’
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said that BJP was terrorising the people of Varanasi.
Speaking to reporters in Varanasi, Kejriwal said that the city is being terrorised by the saffron party.
“Earlier only I was being attacked, but now even the common man is being attacked by BJP’s hooligans,” he said.
Kejriwal then took onto the BJP and Congress and said that Sonia Gandhi and Narendra Modi had a pre-poll understanding.
“I want to know why have the duo not campaigned in each other’s constituencies,” he said.
Kejriwal then said that the BJP had failed to register an FIR against Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra.
“We registered five FIRs against Sheila Dixit in 49 days. Why can’t the BJP in Rajasthan register an FIR against Vadra,” Kejriwal asked.
Kejriwal then said that he was confident of AAP’s victory in Amethi. Kumar Vishwas will defeat Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2014.
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