The polling for the final leg of Lok Sabha elections in being held today (May 19). With this polling in 543 Lok Sabha constituencies would be over marking an end of one of the most acrimoniously fought elections.
The final 7th phase will witness polling in 59 constituencies across seven states and one Union Territory.
In 2014 BJP on its own had won 33 of the 59 seats witnessing polling on May 19. Additional seven seats were won due to alliances. Thus NDA has at stake 40 seats in the final leg of the election.
Final round of polling will take place in Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. In the three states of — Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh — polling will take place in one shot covering all the constituencies.
The final leg of campaigning was marked by a burst of controversies. Amid violence in Calcutta the Election Commission took the unprecedented step of curtailing the electioneering by 20 hours drawing sharp criticism from the AITC, Congress, SP and BSP.
The final phase includes re-polling at a polling station in Haryana’s Faridabad parliamentary seat where a BJP polling agent was arrested for trying to influence voters at a booth. Earlier, a video of the alleged rigging had gone viral, prompting the poll panel to order re-poll.
The round would also see polling to 4 assembly by polls in Tamil Nadu besides re polling in over dozen polling booths.
The focus would be on Varanasi where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is contesting for a 2nd term. In 2014 Modi won the seat by a margin of 3.7 lakh votes. He was followed by Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal.
This time, Modi is being challenged by Congress party’s Ajay Rai and Mahagathbandhan’s Shalini Yadav. Yadav is contesting on a Samajwadi Party (SP) ticket and has the backing of alliance members Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).
In this phase, BJP will face tough competition from SP-BSP alliance in all the 13 seats. If SP-BSP vote shares were added as per 2014 data, the vote share of the alliance trails the vote share of the BJP by just 0.5 percentage points. The vote share of NDA adds up to 42.6, while that of SP+BSP alliance at 42.1 per cent.
Polling for 77 out of total 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh are already over in first six phases.
All four constituencies held by BJP currently — Hamirpur, Kangra, Mandi, Shimla — poll on Sunday where it’s direct contest between the incumbent and Congress.
The BJP has fielded Anurag Thakur from Hamirpur, a seat he is holding since the 2008 by-election. The constituency was represented by his father and former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal two times. He is being challenged by Congress’ Ram Lal Thakur.
Chandigarh’s lone Lok Sabha seat is a bellwether constituency and trends show that whichever party wins this seat eventually goes to form the government at the Centre. There is no scientific basis to this but historical data shows that bellwether constituencies usually act as a marker for the final results.
In 2014, BJP’s Kirron Kher defeated AAP candidate Gul Panag and Congress candidate Pawan Kumar Bansal. Bansal, who had represented this constituency from 1999 to 2014. Congress has fielded Bansal once again to take on Kher while the AAP has fielded Harmohan Dhawan.
In Bihar, polling in 32 of the 40 seats in Bihar are over and the remaining eight constituencies will poll on May 12. In 2014, the BJP had won five of these eight seats on its own and won two seats helped by alliance with Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP). RLSP has switched sides and is contesting with Congress this time. The remaining seats were won by JD(U), which has an alliance with the BJP.
As per 2014 data BJP has 52.4 per cent vote share. But this time it is facing a formidable alliance of Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), RLSP, Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha Secular (HAM Secular) and Mukesh Sahni’s Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP).
In Patna Sahib, actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who had won this seat for BJP in 2009 and 2014, is now contesting on a Congress ticket. Sinha stormed out of the BJP after years of uneasy relationship with the party high command. In 2014, Sinha had won with a margin of over 2.6 lakh votes. The BJP has fielded Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad against Sinha.
All 13 seats of Punjab face a three-way battle among Congress, AAP and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
SAD has been the most steadfast ally of BJP since 1998. In 2014, the alliance secured over 35 per cent votes and got six seats. The BJP lost Gurdaspur seat to Congress’ Sunil Jakhar in 2017 after its candidate, veteran actor Vinod Khanna, died in 2017. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP has fielded actor Sunny Deol to take on Jakhar in an attempt to wrest back this constituency.
Going by 2014 vote share Congress is likely to give a tough challenge to the NDA alliance.
All the eight seats that goes to polls are held by BJP. The 2018 Assembly elections had witnessed a power shift from BJP to Congress in several Assembly segments in constituencies such as Indore, Mandsaur and Ratlam. Congress party’s victory in 2018 is expected to boost its morale.
Indore has been a BJP citadel for the three decades with Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan as a MP since 1989. This time BJP has fielded Shankar Lalwani as Mahajan stepped down anticipating denial of ticket as she had crossed the age of 75.
Congress has fielded Pankaj Sanghvi and Chief Minster Kamal Nath has tasked three local ministers — Tulsi Silawat, Jitu Patwari and Sajjan Verma to ensure victory.
Three constituencies in Jharkhand namely Dumka, Godda and Rajmahal will go to vote on May 19. The BJP won Godda in 2014 Lok Sabha while the regional party Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) won the other two.
In these three constituencies, the BJP may face tough battle from the JMM as it has a strong hold in this region.
Even though, the state has for long been a bastion of the BJP, this time, regional parties such as the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), and the RJD have formed an alliance with the Congress, to give a tough competition to the ruling party.
Overall, a simple vote share calculation based on the grand alliance suggests that the ruling party may face the heat in six constituencies including Godda, Kodarma, Chatra, Lohardaga, Giridih and Rajmahal.
Trinamool Congress won all nine seats in the 2014 elections which is going to polls in the seventh phase.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had defeated CPM leader Somnath Chatterjee in the prestigious Jadavpur seat and has been holding on to it since 2009.
This time AITC has fielded actress-turned-politician Mimi Chakraborty to take on former Kolkata Mayor and senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya.