The second phase of Indian elections 2019 began on Thursday across 95 constituencies in 12 states and union territories. Besides this, voting also began in 35 assembly constituencies in Odisha and in 18 assembly seats in Tamil Nadu.
Among the key contenders in the fray for phase 2 are Union ministers Jual Oram, Sadananda Gowda and Pon Radhakrishnan, former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, Congress leaders Veerappa Moily and Raj Babbar, National Conference President Farooq Abdullah, DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran, A Raja and Kanimozhi. Actor-turned-politicians Hema Malini and Prakash Raj are also the key candidates for this phase.
In Tamil Nadu, the electoral battle is mainly between the AIADMK and the DMK. While the AIADMK is in alliance with the BJP, DMK has a tie-up with the Congress.
Former Union ministers and DMK leaders Dayanidhi Maran, A Raja and Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi are contesting the polls from Central Chennai, Nilgiris (SC) and Sriperumbudur constituencies, respectively. Raja and Kanimozhi, who were acquitted in December 2017 by a trial court in a 2G spectrum case, had in March opposed the ED’s appeal challenging their acquittal in Delhi High Court, saying the trial court has rightly held that “since there were no proceeds of crime, hence no case of money laundering could subsist”.
Party chief M K Stalin’s sister Kanimozhi will contest from Tuticorin constituency in southern Tamil Nadu. In Sivaganga, former Union minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram (INC-DMK alliance) has been pitted against H Raja (BJP-AIDMK alliance).
Actor-turned-politician Prakash Raj will be fighting the polls from the Bangalore Central constituency as an independent against two-time MP PC Mohan of the BJP and Congress’ Rizwan Arshad.
For over close to two decades, the Bengaluru South seat has been an invincible BJP stronghold. Now, contesting for the party is 28-year-old Tejaswi Surya against Congress candidate Rajya Sabha MP B K Hariprasad. While the Janata Dal (S) and the Congress have been having an unseemly rift in Mandya and Mysuru-Kodagu parliament constituencies, in Tumkur, both the coalition parties have set aside their differences and are working for the former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda’s victory.
Besides Prakash Raj, BJP’s Hema Malini and UP Congress chief Raj Babbar are also fighting the polls from Mathura and Fatehpur Sikri, respectively. Earlier this month, an FIR was filed against Hema Malini for allegedly violating the model code of conduct by holding a public meeting at Ajehi village without obtaining permission from the district administration. The actor was also trolled on social media after she shared pictures of herself standing amid the golden harvests in a wheat farm during a poll campaign.
The Silchar seat, one of the two Lok Sabha seats in Assam’s Barak Valley (other being Karimganj), is headed for a tough fight between the Congress and the BJP. The latter’s candidate Rajdeep Roy is taking on incumbent Sushmita Dev in a seat that saw huge support for the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which the BJP has been trying to push.
Over 29.81 lakh voters will decide the fate of 24 candidates, including former J-K chief minister Farooq Abdullah and Union minister Jitendra Singh, contesting the Srinagar and Udhampur seats, which go to polls in the second phase of Lok Sabha elections on Thursday. In February, according to ANI, a war of words had broken out between the two leaders after Singh said that Kashmir-based politicians have a tendency to “speak in the language of Pakistan” when they were out of power. In response, Abdullah called Singh a “Pakistani”, and claimed that such people came to power by “lying”.
Voters wait for their turn outside a booth in West Bengal. (Express photo/Partha Paul)
The second phase of elections in Bihar today will witness polling in five Lok Sabha seats which are critically important for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U). The BJP had contested all the five seats in the last general elections and won only two of them.
Prominent candidates in the fray are former chief ministers Ashok Chavan and Sushilkumar Shinde of Congress, who are contesting from Nanded and Solapur seats, respectively. Chavan, who had won in 2014, is facing a fight from Chikhalikar of the BJP.