Stakes will be high for Congress and BJP and a number of other parties like AIADMK, DMK, NCP and Shiv Sena when 117 constituencies will go to polls on Thursday in yet another substantial round of polling in theLok Sabha elections.
Over 18 crore voters in 11 states and union territory of Puducherry will be able to vote in the sixth of the nine-phased elections on Thursday in which there are 2076 candidates.
Of the 117 seats, Congress has 37 while BJP has 24.
It will decide whether BJP, which has cobbled a rainbow coalition of six parties, will be able to break the citadels of dravidian parties DMK and AIADMK in Tamil Nadu. 39 constituencies in the state and the lone seat in Puducherry will complete voting on a single day.
DMK has 18 seats and AIADMK 8. Congress, whose success in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in the last two general elections in alliance with DMK helped in government formation in Delhi, is unlikely to retain any of the eight seats it has.
Among the prominent candidates in the field in Tamil Nadu are former minister Dayanidhi Maran (Central Chennai), former Telecom Minister A Raja (Nilgiris), DMK leader T R Baalu, Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti (Sivaganga), DMK leader Vaiko (Virudunagar) and Union Minister V Narayanasamy (Puducherry).
Another prestige contest tomorrow will be the elections in Maharashtra where polling will be held in 19 seats, including six in Mumbai, all of them held by Congress and its ally NCP.
Important candidates in fray are Union Minister Milind Deora (Mumbai-South), Priya Dutt (Mumbai-North Central), Gurudas Kamath (Mumbai-North West), AAP candidates Medha Patkar (Mumbai North East) and Meera Sanyal (Mumbai-South).
In the battleground states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, polling will be held in 12 seats and 7 seats respectively.
The fourth phase of polling in UP will decide the fate of 187 candidates, including SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav (Mainpuri), his daughter-in-law Dimple Yadav in Kannauj and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid (Farrukhabad).
Jayant Chaudhary, son of RLD chief Ajit Singh, is locked in a stiff contest with BJP candidate and Bollywood star Hema Malini in Mathura. In Bihar, BJP’s Shahnawaz Hussain, party’s lone Muslim face in the outgoing Lok Sabha (Bhagalpur), NCP General Secretary Tariq Anwar (Katihar), former Union Minister and RJD leader Mohd Taslimuddin and former Home Secretary R K Singh (Supual-BJP) are in the fray.
Polling will be held in six constituencies in the second phase of polling in West Bengal where President Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit and Mamata Banerjee’s bete noire Deepa Dasmunshi are among the candidates.
Abhijit had won the Jangipur seat by a slender margin of 2,536 votes in a 2012 by-election when his father Pranab Mukherjee vacated the seat to become the President of India.
While five of the six seats – Raiganj, Maldaha Uttar, Maldaha Dakshin, Jangipur and Murshidabad – were won by the Congress in 2009 general elections, which it fought in alliance with the TMC in West Bengal, the Balurghat seat was won by the RSP.
Tomorrow’s election will also decide fate of Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj (Vidisha) and BJP veteran Sumitra Mahajan, who is eyeing a record eighth consecutive victory in Indore in Madhya Pradesh.