Polling in 121 Lok Sabha constituencies spread across 12 States

The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have huge stakes in the fifth phase of polling to be held in 121 Lok Sabha constituencies across 12 States on Thursday. This has the largest number of constituencies among the nine phases being held from April 7 to May 12.

Of the seats, the BJP holds 40 and the Congress 36 at present. Prominent candidates in the fray include Nandan Nilekani, M. Veerappa Moily and Srikant Jena of the Congress; Maneka Gandhi of the BJP; H.D. Deve Gowda of the Janata Dal (S); Supriya Sule of the Nationalist Congress Party; and Misa Bharti, daughter of Rashtriya Janata Dal president Lalu Prasad.

The contest in Karnataka, where all 28 constituencies are going to the polls, is the most exciting. In the Assembly election held 10 months ago, the Congress wrested power from the BJP, which succeeded for the first time in 2008 in forming a government in a southern State. During the May 2013 Assembly elections, the BJP was in bad shape after the exit of the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa from the party. Now that he is back, the party is upbeat about its prospects.

Test for Modi

Karnataka is one State where the popularity of the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, will be tested. The contest will be keenly watched to find out what difference he can make to the fortunes of the party in the State. Twenty of the 25 constituencies in Rajasthan go to the polls in this phase. In the 2009 election, the Congress won 20 seats. However, its performance in the December Assembly election was disastrous. In Maharashtra, polling will be held for 19 of the 48 seats. The Congress-NCP alliance won 25 in the 2009 election. Eleven constituencies each in Odisha and Uttar Pradesh go to the polls in the fifth phase. In both States, the BJP is making a determined effort to capture as many seats as possible. In Odisha, the party is looking to challenge the citadel of the Biju Janata Dal. A keen contest is shaping up in Bihar, where seven of the 40 constituencies goes to the polls on Thursday. The BJP, which snapped its 17-year-old ties with the Janata Dal (United) in 2013, is testing its fortunes in alliance with the Lok Jan Shakti Party.