The eighth and penultimate phase of the election will be held in 64 Lok Sabha constituencies in seven States on Wednesday. The election to the Assembly seats in Seemandhra being held simultaneously will decide which party gets to rule the new State.
The Congress has reasons to be concerned over the outcome of the latest round as the party holds nearly half the 64 seats. The eighth round was preceded by a no-holds-barred attack by the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, on the Gandhi family. He campaigned in Amethi in Uttar Pradesh where Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is contesting. For the first time in the course of the campaign, Mr. Modi invoked Lord Ram as well as his backward caste status, provoking the Congress to knock on the doors of the Election Commission.
The BJP has to do well in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to be in the reckoning as the single largest party in the new Lok Sabha. Voting will take place in seven Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar, 15 in Uttar Pradesh, six in West Bengal, five in Uttarakhand, four in Himachal Pradesh and two in Jammu and Kashmir. In West Bengal, the Left parties, which hold all six seats going to the polls, are locked in a tough contest with the ruling Trinamool Congress. The Congress which fought the last election in alliance with the Trinamool is on its own this time.
In Himachal Pradesh, Pratibha Singh, wife of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, is contesting in Mandi. Anurag Thakur, sitting MP and son of former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, is the candidate from Hamirpur.