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Seventh phase of elections: Fate of Modi, Sonia to be decided tomorrow
The whole of Gujarat and Punjab goes to polls on Wednesday in the seventh phase of Lok Sabha elections along with some seats in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar that will decide the fate of top guns including Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi, L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi.
Telangana, the new state-to-be, will also elect its first assembly along with representatives to Parliament when elections will be held in 119 Assembly constituencies and 17 Lok Sabha seats in that part of Andhra Pradesh.
On Wednesday, a total of 13.83 crore voters have the right to vote in the polls in seven states and two union territories that will in all elect 89 MPs. Elections are already over in 349 constituencies in the first six phases.
Stakes are also high for the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab which has four seats and is locked in a bitter contest with Congress.
TRS, which spearheaded the campaign for Telangana state, and Congress, whose government at the Centre cleared the new state proposal, are said to be involved in a hard-fought contest over credit for the new state.
TRS has two Lok Sabha seats while TDP has two from the region.
JD (U) and Trinamool Congress have five seats each in the constituencies going to polls tomorrow, while CPI (M) has four.
Modi is seeking to make his debut in Lok Sabha by contesting from Vadodara, which is among the 26 seats in Gujarat going to polls in a single phase tomorrow. He is pitted against Madhusudan Mistry of Congress.
Modi is also contesting from Varanasi where he is pitted against AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal and Congress’ Ajay Rai. The Varanasi seat in eastern Uttar Pradesh will go to polls in the last phase on May 12.
BJP veteran L K Advani is seeking re-election from Gandhinagar in Gujarat.
Rae Bareli, the pocket borough of the Gandhis, Lucknow and Kanpur are among the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh where election will be held tomorrow.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi is seeking re-election from Rae Bareli, BJP President Rajnath Singh is contesting from Lucknow, once represented by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Lok Sabha. He is a sitting MP from Ghaziabad.
Singh is pitted against former UP Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi and AAP’s Javed Jaffrey.
Shifted from Varanasi, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi is contesting from Kanpur where Union minister and Congress leader Sriprakash Jaiswal is fighting to retain his turf.
Along with Gujarat, Punjab will also witness polling in a single phase tomorrow with Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and BJP leader Arun Jaitley pitted against former state Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in the keenly fought electoral battle in Amritsar.
Jaitley is fighting his maiden Lok Sabha polls and a victory is likely to propel him to a position of power if the NDA forms the government, while Amarinder’s win will revive his political fortunes and he will again emerge as the key Congress leader in the state which has 13 Lok Sabha constituencies.
Punjab will also witness a contest between SAD’s Harsimrat Kaur with her brother-in-law Manpreet Badal (Congress) in Bhatinda.
While Congress leader Ambika Soni is contesting from Anandpur Sahib, Bollywood star and former Union minister Vinod Khanna is contesting from Gurdaspur. Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur is seeking another term in Lok Sabha from Patiala.
In Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar is the sole constituency that will go for poll tomorrow.
National Conference chief and Union minister Farooq Abdullah is seeking re-election from the seat which has seen a poor voter turnout in the past due to militancy.
The Union Minister is pitted against 11 others, the most formidable among them being former state Finance Minister and PDP leader Tariq Hameed Karra.
In Bihar, seven constituencies are going to polls tomorrow in the fourth of the six-phase Lok Sabha election in the state.
Prominent among the candidates are JD(U) president Sharad Yadav from Madhepura, being challenged by RJD’s Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, and cricketer-turned BJP leader Kirti Azad from Darbhanga and his challenger former Union minister and RJD leader M A A Fatmi.
In West Bengal, 87 contestants will fight it out in nine constituencies that are going to polls tomorrow in the third of the five-phase Lok Sabha election in the state.
Among the candidates are BJP’s Bappi Lahiri, journalist-turned politician Chandan Mitra and actor George Baker, who carry the hopes of the party leadership to score big for the first time in the state.
While most poll analysts rule out BJP’s outright win in any of the nine seats, they all agree that it may increase its vote share.
Among Trinamool Congress candidates are sitting MPs Satabdi Roy, Kalyan Banerjee and Sultan Ahmed besides Prasun Banerjee, a former India soccer player.