Both the Congress and the BJP have huge stakes in the fifth phase of voting in 122 Lok Sabha constituencies scheduled on April 17. This phase covers largest number of Lok Sabha seats in an election spread over nine separate days beginning from April 7 to May 12.
Karnataka where all the 28 Lok Sabha constituencies would witness polling would undoubtedly be the most exciting. In the state assembly election held ten months ago the Congress captured power from the BJP which for the first time since 2008 had succeeded in forming a government.
However, the May 2013 assembly election was a different ball game for the Congress as the BJP was in a very bad shape after the exit of the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa from the party. Now that he is back in to the party fold, the Lok Sabha poll would not the same for the Congress.
Karnataka is one state in the country where the popularity of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi would be tested. It would be watched with keen interest as to how much difference he could make to fortunes of his party faced with Congress which emerged victorious ten months ago.
Twenty of the 24 Lok Sabha constituencies in Rajasthan would be covered in Thursday’s poll. In the 2009 general election the Congress had won 20 seats. However, its performance in the December state assembly election was disastrous. It is to be seen if the Congress could manage to recover some ground.
In Maharashtra 19 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats are slated for voting. The Congress-NCP alliance had won 25 seats in the 2009 election. After the split in the Shiv Sena, it would be interesting to watch how much difference ‘Modi factor’ would make in the state.
Eleven seats each in Odisha and Uttar Pradesh are scheduled for the fifth phase. In both the 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 Biju Janata Dal (BJP) led by Navin Patnaik.
Bihar is another interesting state to watch where seven of the 40 seats would see polling. It is for the first time the BJP is testing its fortunes on its own after the Janata dal (United) ended its 17 year long alliance with it.