Dust settles on tough Phase 3 campaign

116 Lok Sabha seats across 15 States and Union Territories go to the polls on April 23.

April 21, 2019 11:46 pm | Updated 11:46 pm IST - New Delhi

Set for the next lap:  Polling officials checking EVMs and VVPAT machines on a college campus in Bhubaneswar, before leaving for their designated booths on Sunday.

Set for the next lap: Polling officials checking EVMs and VVPAT machines on a college campus in Bhubaneswar, before leaving for their designated booths on Sunday.

Campaigning for the third phase of polling in 116 Lok Sabha constituencies across 15 States and union territories ended on Sunday.

The third phase of voting on Tuesday will decide the fate of BJP president Amit Shah from Gandhinagar in Gujarat and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad in Kerala, his second seat.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi not only talked about his government’s muscular approach to national security but while campaigning in Patan reached out to farmers as well.

“Addressed a massive rally in Patan. Gujarat has decided to give BJP a similar mandate as they did in 2014! Talked about measures taken for better irrigation, farmer welfare and Ease of Living,” tweeted Mr. Modi.

Key seats

While the BJP chief took out a roadshow in Gandhinagar to mark the end of his campaign, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra not only campaigned for her brother in Wayanad but also indicated her willingness to take on Mr. Modi from Varanasi.

The third phase will see all the seats in Gujarat (26), Kerala (20), Goa (2), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (1) and Daman and Diu (1) go to polls.

Besides, polling will be held in four seats in Assam, five in Bihar, seven in Chhattisgarh, one in Jammu and Kashmir, 14 in Karnataka, 14 in Maharashtra, six in Odisha, 10 in Uttar Pradesh, and five in West Bengal.

Tuesday’s polling will witness some key contests like Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan versus BJP’s Jaya Prada, Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge versus Umesh Jadhav, who quit as a Congress MLA and is now contesting as a BJP candidate, Congress’ Shashi Tharoor against BJP’s Rajasekaran in Thiruvananthapuram, and NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule versus BJP’s Kanchan Kul.

In Uttar Pradesh, where 10 seats will go to polls, SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav will be contesting from Mainpuri and BJP’s Varun Gandhi from Pilibhit, a seat formerly represented by his mother, Maneka Gandhi.

It’s a high-stakes battle in U.P., both for the BJP and the alliance of the SP, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).

Lok Sabha seats like Etah, Firozabad, Mainpuri, Badaun, and Aonla, will witness a fight for the OBC votes once again.

In 2014, the BJP had won seven of the 10 U.P. seats that are voting on Tuesday but the caste arithmetic seems to favour the SP-BSP-RLD alliance. While the alliance is banking on the dominance of the Yadav community in these parts, the BJP is banking on Mr. Modi’s popularity and the non-Yadav OBC vote bank that it managed in 2014.

The North-East too will see a high-stakes battle as the BJP is banking on its allies in the minority-dominated seats of Assam, while the Congress is trying for a comeback in what was once its bastion.

In Assam, the Gauhati seat will witness a prestige battle between former Guwahati Municipal Corporation Mayor Queen Oja and film and TV personality Bobbeeta Sharma of the Congress.

(With inputs from Rahul Karmakar)

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