Voting will take place in a number of seats in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Jammu and Kashmir.
In the fifth phase of polling on Monday, voters in 51 Lok Sabha constituencies across seven States will cast their vote. This phase will see one of the key contests, between Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Union Minister Smriti Irani, in Amethi. Also in the fray are Home Minister Rajnath Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
It’s a crucial phase for the BJP, which in 2014 had won 39 out of these 51 seats and together with its allies notched up a tally of 41 for the NDA.
Uttar Pradesh will see citizens voting in 14 constituencies while Jammu and Kashmir will see two constituencies going to polls. This is the first election in Ladakh division following its split from the Kashmir division earlier this year. Other States going to polls are Rajasthan (12 constituencies), Madhya Pradesh (7), West Bengal (7), Bihar (5) and Jharkhand (4).
In West Bengal, this phase will decide whether Trinamool Congress gets to play a national role post-May 23. Seven seats — Bongaon (SC), Barrackpore, Howrah, Uluberia, Serampore, Hooghly and Arambagh (SC) are going to the polls. The Trinamool won all the seven in 2014.
Click here for State-wise list of candidates and constituencies going to the polls
Here are the live updates:
Rahul, Smriti face off in Uttar Pradesh
Mr. Gandhi’s decision to fight in a second seat, from Wayanad in Kerala, has also triggered a BJP narrative that he is on a weak wicket in Amethi.
This prompted Mr. Gandhi to make an emotional appeal through an open letter to Amethi voters saying that the development works proposed by him were blocked by the BJP government in the Centre.
But the SP-BSP combine has declared open support for the Congress in Amethi and Rae Bareli, where UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is contesting. This could easily tip the balance in Congress’s favour as the combine has not fielded any candidate in the two seats.
“The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress are alike. We have not done any coalition with the Congress but to defeat the BJP, our coalition will vote for the Congress in Amethi and Rae Bareli,” Ms. Mayawati said in Lucknow on Sunday.
Challenge to BJP
Out of the 51, 14 seats are in Uttar Pradesh where the Samajwadi Party (SP)-Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) combine has mounted a formidable challenge to the BJP. The party had won 12 of these seats in the last general election barring the Congress bastions of Amethi and Rae Bareli.
Around 2.47 crore people are eligible to vote in the Dhaurahra, Sitapur, Mohanlalganj (SC), Lucknow, Banda, Fatehpur, Kaushambi (SC), Barabanki (SC), Faizabad, Bahraich (SC), Kaisarganj and Gonda constituencies where 182 candidates are in the contest.
The BSP is contesting in five seats: Dhaurahra, Sitapur, Mohanlalganj, Fatehpur and Kaisarganj. The SP is fighting in Lucknow, Banda, Kaushambi, Barabanki, Faizabad, Bahraich and Gonda.
For the Congress, which is fast losing its footprint in Uttar Pradesh, it is a critical phase as many of its bigwigs are in the race: former Union Minister Jitin Prasada in Dhaurahra, P.L. Punia’s son Tanuj Punia in Barabanki and former Uttar Pradesh Congress president Nirmal Khatri in Faizabad. Ms. Irani, who contested unsuccessfully in 2014 against Mr. Gandhi, is trying her luck again.
Stakes are high for BJP in MP, Rajasthan
In Madhya Pradesh, Union Minister Virendra Singh Khatik and BJP MP Prahlad Patel are among the 110 candidates in the fray for polling in seven seats. This will be the second phase of polling in the State, where the first phase was held on April 29. Tikamgarh, Damoh, Khajuraho, Satna, Rewa, Hoshangabad and Betul are the seven seats, all located in the Bundelkhand region and currently held by the BJP. With perennial water shortage there, the BJP faces disgruntled voters.
Mr. Khatik is the BJP candidate from Tikamgarh while Mr. Patel, the former Union Minister and sitting MP, is the party’s nominee from Damoh. They are pitted against the Congress’ Kiran Ahirwar and Pratap Singh Lodhi, respectively.
With this phase, the elections will come to a close in Rajasthan where the remaining 12 seats go to the polls.
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