New Delhi, May 5: Against the backdrop of a spurt in Maoist violence and Muzaffarpur atrocities coming under media glare, campaigning for the fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections, covering 51 constituencies across seven states, came to an end on Saturday evening.
At stake are 15 seats of Uttar Pradesh, 12 of Rajasthan, 7 each of Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, five of Bihar, four of Jharkhand and two of Jammu and Kashmir. The polling will come to an end in Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir. In this phase, 12 per cent candidates in fray are women. There are 674 aspirants before a nine crore electorate at 96,000 polling booths.
Fifth phase polling will witness some interesting battles. In Bikaner of Rajasthan, two former bureaucrats are contesting, Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh BJP’s Smriti Irani will again take on Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Bengal’s Barrackpur, former TMC MLA is fighting against TMC’s MP, Saran in Bihar, and Union Minister Rudy will challenge RJD’s Chandrika Rai.
Nehru-Gandhi pocket boroughs
Rae Bareli, parliamentary constituency of Indian National Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Amethi, LS seat of INC president Rahul Gandhi will go polls on May 6 along with 12 other constituencies of the state.Both the constituencies along with Dhaurara, Sitapur, Mohanlalganj, Lucknow, Rae Bareli, Amethi, Banda, Fatehpur, Kaushambi, Barabanki, Faizabad, Bahriach, Kaiserganj and Gonda witnessed high pitch campaign.
Rahul Gandhi’s sister and general secretary of UP-East Priyanka Gandhi held roadshows and rallies in both the constituency. BJP national president Amit Shah held an impressive road show in Amethi in support of Smriti Irani. Another interesting battle will be witnessed in state capital Lucknow where Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is in fray. SP has fielded Poonam Sinha, wife of veteran Hindi-cinema actor Shatrughan Sinha. Congress has put Acharya Pramod Krishnan.There are a total of 182 candidates in the fray.
Ex-IAS vs ex-IPS
n Rajasthan’s Bikaner parliamentary constituency, Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded Arjun Ram Meghawal, who is a former Indian Administrative Service Officer while from Indian National Congress, Madangopal Meghwal, former Indian Police Service officer.
Another thing that’s interesting is, Madangopal is Arjun’s cousin. In 2014 general elections, Arjun defeated INC’s Shankar Pannu.Besides Bikaner, Ganganagar, Churu, Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Jaipur Rural, Jaipur, Alwar, Bharatpur, Karauli-Dholpur, Dausa and Nagaur are also set to witness polling on May 6.
Will turncoat turn table?
In Barrackpur Lok Sabha seat of West Bengal, former Railway Minister and sitting MP from Trinamool Congress Dinesh Trivedi is pitted against Bharatiya Janata Party’s Arjun Singh.Singh, an MLA from one of the Assembly segments of Barrackpur, was poached by the BJP last month and fielded him from here. He had left TMC after his name didn’t appear in the list of candidates.
While Trivedi is three time MP from this seat, Singh four-time MLA from Bhatpara assembly seat of Barrackpore. Locals call Singh as ‘Bahubal’.
The other six Lok Sabha seats going for polls in fifth phase are-- Bangaon, Howrah, Uluberia, Sreerampur, Hooghly and Arambag. These seats span across three districts of South Bengal.Nearly 660 companies of para-military forces will man the fifth phase polling booths, nearly double the force from 4th phase.
Saran, a matter of prestige
Saran Lok Sabha constituency going to poll in the fifth phase of Lok Sabha election on May 6 is poised to see an interesting electoral battle between sitting BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy and RJD chief Lalu Prasad`s Samadhi and former Bihar Minister Chandrika Rai.Saran has been a stronghold of RJD as the seat had been represented by RJD chief Lalu Prasad. BJP’s Rudy is contesting from this seat. He has defeated Mr Prasad wife Rabri Devi from this LS seat in 2014.
The grand alliance has fielded Chandrika Rai, former MLA from Parsa and ‘Samadhi’ of RJD chief Mr Prasad even as he has the challenge of wresting the seat from BJP. The rest other seats going to polls are Sitamarhi, Madhubani, Muzaffarpur and Hajipur.Mazaffarpur came into a bad light last year after several minors in a shelter home, run by an NGO, were allegedly sexually harassed and raped.
In Hazaribagh Lok seat of Jharkhand, sitting Member of Parliament Jayant Sinha of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is contesting against Gopal Sahu of the Congress. Sahu is the younger brother of former Ranchi Parliamentarian Shiv Prasad Sahu who won the twice from this seat. The former Hazaribagh MP Bhuneshwar Prasad Mehta, popular as the ‘Stalin of Jharkhand’ of the Communist Party of India (CPI), is also contesting from this seat.The other three seats going to polls are Koderma, Ranchi and Khunti (ST). A total of 61 candidates are in the race for these four seats.
Ladakh, geographically the largest constituency of the country and is set to witness a quadrangular contest. BJP’s Tsering Namgyal, chief executive councillor (CEC) of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh; Congress’s Rigzin Saplbar, former CEC Leh; Hussain, the joint candidate of National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party and former Congress MLA Asgar Ali Karbalai, are in fray. In Anantnag parliamentary constituency, there was lacklustre campaigning in the twin districts of Pulwama and Shopian in the third and final phase.
Anantnag is the only constituency in the country where polling was being held in three phases for security reasons. Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti of the Peoples Democratic Party is in the fray from this constituency. The mandate for the 17th Lok Sabha will be declared on May 23, Thursday. UNI