New Delhi, May 10 : Curtains were drawn on Friday evening for the campaign for the sixth phase of Lok Sabha elections to be held on Sunday, covering 59 constituencies across seven states.
At stake are 14 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 10 in Haryana, eight apiece in Bengal, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, seven in Delhi and four in Jharkhand with 979 candidates up before an 11-crore electorate at 1.1 lakh polling stations amid stepped-up security vigil.
In the final hours of the campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a rally in Haryana while Indian National Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressed public meetings in Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh. Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati also hit the campaign trail.
Battle for Poorvanchal
In Uttar Pradesh, all 14 constituencies are spread in the Poorvanchal region of the state. Out of these constituencies, Lalganj and Machhlishahar are reserved for scheduled caste candidates. Congress has not put up any nominee on Azamgarh and Ambedkar Nagar seats.
The phase witnessed intensified campaigning by Bharatiya Janata Party and SP-BSP alliance as they left no stone unturned to woo the voters. However, heat wave conditions threw challenges at the political parties in this phase too.
The fate of Union Minister Maneka Gandhi (Sultanpur), Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav (Azamgarh) and UP cabinet minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi (Allahabad) will be decided in the polling on May12, Monday.
Bhojpuri actor Dinesh Lal Yadav, alias Nirihua, is the BJP candidate against Akhilesh Yadav from Azamgarh while Congress has fielded its old war horse Dr Sanjay Singh from Sultanpur against Union minister Maneka Gandhi.
PM Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, along with UP CM Yogi Adityanath and several Union ministers and senior leaders, covered almost all the 14 constituencies.
Mr Adityanath, who camped in Varanasi, also toured the constituencies to address the election meetings along with his colleagues.Eastern Uttar Pradesh came into the spotlight with a spirited campaign by the Congress party chief's sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
Priyanka campaigned against her aunt and Union minister Maneka Gandhi in Sultanpur on Thursday by holding a roadshow besides addressing election meetings in Jaunpur and Pratapgarh in the day. On Friday, before the campaigning ended she addressed meetings at Sidharthnagar, Basti, Sant kabir Nagar and Bhadoi.
There are a total of 174 candidates in the fray in this phase. The constituencies going to polls in the sixth phase are: Sultanpur, Pratapgarh, Phulpur, Allahabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Shraswati, Domariyaganj, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Lalganj, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Machhlishahr and Bhadoi. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had won all the seats of this phase except for Azamgarh where the then Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav won by defeating BJP's Ramakant Yadav. But this election, Mulayam shifted to Mainpuri and his son and SP president Akhilesh Yadav was contesting from the seat.
However, during the recent bypoll in Phulpurm, the BJP was defeated by the SP. In the sixth phase, the number of criminal candidates decreased by six per cent to 21 pc with 33 per cent crorepatis. A total of 36 or 21 per cent of the candidates declared criminal cases against themselves. Among these, 29 candidates or 17 per cent had heinous crimes against them. Among the crorepatis, 56 or 33 per cent candidates declared assets more than one crore each of which 12 belonged BJP, 10 to BSP, 9 and 2 to Congress and SP respectively.
Issues concerning traders, including sealing and GST, dominated the campaign in the Capital. In the fray for the seven high-profile seats in Delhi NCR were the BJP and the Congress apart from the Aam Aadmi Party. Sealing drive was a prominent political issue. AAP has assured that it will stop sealing if it wins all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi. Apart from sealing drive, the newbie party also raised demand of full statehood in the polls.
Haryana will witness single-phase polling on 10 parliamentary constituencies. BJP had registered landslide victory on seven Lok Sabha seats in Haryana in the 2014 polls.
In the east
Beating sweltering heat of the peak summer, leaders of all mainstream political parties went the extra miles to woo the electorate in the hurly-burly of canvassing.
Up for grabs are eight South Bengal Lok Sabha seats of Tamluk, Kanthi, Ghatal, Jhargram, Medinipur, Purulia, Bankura and Bishnupur. BJP, Trinamool Congress (AITC), INC and the Left Front have fielded their candidates in all the eight constituencies. There was high pitch campaigning by Mr Modi, Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chieftain Mamata Banerjee, BJP national president Amit Shah and top leaders of the Congress and Left parties. The high-pitched campaign was mainly polarised between Ms Banerjee and Mr Modi. Issues ranging from corruption to communalism, National Register for Citizens to chit fund scams, and, development to security featured in the stumping.Jharkhand's Giridih, Dhanbad, Jamshedpur and Singhbhum (ST) seats will also go to the polls on Sunday.
The main battle in Giridih was between All Jharkhand Students Union nominee Chandraprakash Chowdhary and Jaggarnath Mahto of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha while in Dhanbad PN Singh of the BJP will take on Kirti Azad Jha of the Congress. On the other hand, in Jamshedpur Vidyut Baran Mahto of the BJP will take on Champai Soren of the JMM and in Chaibasa Laxman Giluwa of the BJP will be fighting it out with Geeta Koda of the Congress. At present all these four seats are with the BJP.
In Bihar,West Champaran, East Champaran, Sheohar, Gopalganj, Siwan, Valmikinagar, Siwan and Vaishali constituencies will keep their date with democracy.Votes would be cast under Valmikinagar and Ramnagar assembly segments in Valmikinagar Lok Sabha constituency and under Meenapur, Paru and Sahebganj assembly segments in Vaishali from 7 AM to 4 PM due to security reason.In other assembly segments of these two Lok Sabha constituencies, polling would be held from 7 AM to 6 PM.
Prominent candidates whose fate would be decided in the 6th phase are Union minister and BJP candidate from East Champaran Radha Mohan Singh, Rashtriya Janata Dal's nominee from Siwan Hena Sahab (wife of controversial former MP and RJD strongman Mohammed Shahabuddin), BJP candidate from Sheohar Rama Devi, BJP candidate and outgoing MP from Maharajganj Janardan Singh Segriwal and BJP candidate from West Champaran Sanjay Jaiswal. (UNI)