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12 poll battles to look forward to

Last updated on: May 23, 2019 07:55 IST

The great Indian election is over and now the wait for results is shrinking with every passing moment. 

Though exit polls hint at a cakewalk for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his National Democratic Alliance, there are some battles which will be keenly observed on result day of the verdict. 

-- INDIA DECIDES

>> Amethi

Will Congress president Rahul Gandhi lose from Amethi, a Lok Sabha seat that has been a Congress stronghold? Rahul Gandhi contested his first Lok Sabha election form Amethi in 2004 and has represented this seat since then.

 

To take on Rahul Gandhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded Union minister Smriti Irani in Amethi. She had contested against him in 2014 too and was defeated, though she was able to reduce Rahul Gandhi's victory margin.

However, Amethi is not the only seat from where Rahul Gandhi is contesting this time. His second seat is Wayanad in Kerala. Many pollsters believe that the close fight in Amethi forced Rahul to choose a second constituency.

>> Bhopal

A BJP bastion, this constituency has taken centrestage ever since the BJP fielded Malegaon blast-accused Pragya Singh Thakur from the seat against Congress veteran Digvijaya Singh.

Singh has been chief minister of Madhya Pradesh twice and is contesting an election after a gap of almost 19 years, the last being the assembly election he contested in 2003.

The BJP has consistently been winning the Bhopal seat since 1989.

What makes the contest especially interesting, however, is the fact that Digvijaya Singh was one of the most significant proponents of 'Saffron terror/Hindu terror' which cited the Malegaon blasts among others.

Now, however, Digvijay Singh has been peddling a 'soft Hindutva' line in his election campaign by roping in seers, including Computer Baba (Namdeo Das Tyagi) who conducted 'hatha yoga' and set afire cow dung cakes.

>> Patna Sahib

A clash of titans is on the cards in Patna Sahib where Shatrughan Sinha is seeking to retain the seat for a third consecutive term, this time on a Congress ticket, surmounting a formidable challenge posed by Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Exit polls suggest that the BJP candidate -- Ravi Shankar Prasad -- will emerge as a winner from the seat of Patna Sahib in the state of Bihar.

>> Lucknow

While Shatrughan Sinha joined the Congress, his wife Poonam Sinha joined the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi party and is contesting from Lucknow against the BJP's Rajnath Singh.

According to most exit polls, Rajnath Singh will repeat his 2014 victory in Lucknow.

Lucknow has been a BJP bastion since 1991. Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had served as the MP from Lucknow constituency for a consecutive five times.

Rajnath Singh was elected as Lucknow's MP in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.

>> Thiruvananthapuram

The fight for the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha seat is heading for a nail-biting finish with the Congress's Shashi Tharoor battling it out against the BJP's Kummanam Rajasekharan.

Tharoor is hoping for a third term from the seat while the BJP has pinned all its hopes on its former state president and ex-Mizoram governor to win the seat this election.

In 2014, senior BJP leader O Rajagopal managed to close in on Thiruvananthapuram. While the winner Shashi Tharoor secured 297,806 votes, Rajagopal racked up 282,336 votes. Will Rajasekharan bridge the gap this time? 

>> Begusarai

This constituency is among the most talked about seats in Bihar and has been under a microscope as it is witnessing the electoral debut of Communist Party of India candidate Kanhaiya Kumar, the controversial former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union president who is pitted against BJP leader and Union minister Giriraj Singh.

Poll pundits said this would be a major contest as far as the Lok Sabha election is concerned, but according to many exit polls, Kanhaiya would not pose a tough fight to Singh, what with the Rashtriya Janata Dal deciding to field a candidate in the constituency.

>> Rampur

The constituency known for sending to the Lok Sabha India's first education minister, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, is now at the centre of a bitter battle between Samajwadi Party strongman Azam Khan and his former party colleague Jaya Prada who has chosen to join the BJP.

Jaya Prada is all set to win the Rampur seat.

Jaya Prada switched loyalty from the Samajwadi Party to the BJP, months before the Lok Sabha election began -- a point that Azam Khan has been using against her.

Azam Khan made several derogatory remarks against her in the run-up to the election, and Jaya Prada always gave it back to him with gusto. This even saw Khan being banned from campaigning for 72 hours by the Election Commission of India.

>> Mumbai North

Actor Urmila Matondkar surprised many when she was named the Congress candidate from the Mumbai North constituency in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Making her debut in politics, Urmila is contesting against incumbent BJP MP Gopal Shetty. Shetty had beaten Congress candidate Sanjay Nirupam by over 4 lakh votes in 2014.

Urmila’s campaign has not been easy. She has been targeted by her opponents about her being a successful actor and marrying a Muslim. Her opponent Shetty had said, “Urmila ji has been brought to politics because she is a celebrity and because she is a celebrity, she has been brought due to how she looks.”

The BJP has had an upper hand in the constituency in recent years. Ram Naik of the BJP held the seat for five consecutive terms, before being defeated by filmstar Govinda in 2004 who was fielded by the Congress. Clearly, the latter hopes Urmila will repeat the feat this time.

>> Thoothukudi

The battle for Thoothukudi, in southern Tamil Nadu, is what many are looking forward to in the current Lok Sabha polls where Tamil Nadu BJP president Tamilisai Soundararajan is crossing swords with Dravida Munnetra Kazagham leader and Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi.

Interestingly, the contest is between two women who are daughters of political leaders.

Kanimozhi is the daughter of late DMK president M Karunanidhi and the sister of current party president MK Stalin.

On the other hand, Soundararajan, is the daughter of Congress leader Kumari Ananthan.

Though both the leaders hail from the Nadar community, which has a dominant presence in the constituency, they are seen as outsiders and hence could face challenges on the ground.

>> East Delhi

If exit polls are to be believed, cricketer-turned-politician and BJP leader Gautam Gambhir is set to sweep East Delhi. Aam Aadmi Party's Atishi may not be able to give a fight to Gambhir despite many rallying behind her.

Gambhir and Atishi have been been involved in a major war of words ever since the former's entry into the BJP fold. The AAP accused the BJP and Gautam Gambhir of distributing misogynistic pamphlets against Atishi. The AAP leader even broke down in front of the media, while showing the pamphlet to journalists.

Gambhir, on his part, said he was innocent and that he would hang himself in front of the entire nation if proved otherwise.

>> Sivaganga

The Sivaganga Lok Sabha Constituency is a Congress stronghold, with P Chidambaram having won from here a record seven times. But the 2014 elections saw All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam sweep the constituency, pushing behind the national parties, for the first time in over three decades.

This time, with national parties having formed alliances with the state parties, the scales might tip in anyone’s favour.

While Karti Chidambaram is confident of the Congress-DMK alliance sweeping the constituency, the BJP's H Raja is banking on the AIADMK’s popularity in the region.

>> North East Delhi

The entire spectrum of caste equations, unauthorised colonies and migrant population will remain in focus in the North East Delhi parliamentary constituency from where political heavyweights -- three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit and BJP leader Manoj Tiwari -- are trying their luck.

Tiwari won the seat in 2014 with 45.23% of the vote, with Aam Aadmi Party candidate Anand Kumar finishing second with 34.30%. The Congress’s Jai Prakash Agarwal finished a poor third. This time, with a strong candidate in the fray, the Congress hopes to reverse its fortunes.

But taking on Tiwari, the Bhojpuri actor and singer who is also the BJP’s Delhi chief now, will not be an easy task. Tiwari, who’s from Bihar, had won from the Purvanchali (people from East Uttar Pradesh and Bihar)-dominated constituency with a margin of 1.4 lakh votes in 2014. 

The Rediff News Bureau / Rediff.com
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