The third phase of the Lok Sabha elections will be held on Tuesday, with 116 constituencies across 15 states going to polls. All constituencies in Gujarat and Kerala see voting, with BJP president Amit Shah, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and several Union ministers among prominent candidates in the fray.
The BJP faces a strong challenge in Uttar Pradesh, as the third phase of Lok Sabha elections will be fought in the “Yadav belt”, and Chhattisgarh, where the Congress swept the assembly elections just four months ago, winning 68 of 90 seats, reducing BJP to just 15.
Elections will also be held in Anantnag Lok Sabha seat in Jammu and Kashmir, where polling is being held in three phases. The Anantnag seat, from where PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti is contesting, has been without an elected representative for more than two-and-a-half years.
In Kerala, the contest is primarily between the CPM-led Left Democratic Front, Congress-led United Democratic Front and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. In the 2014 elections, the UDF had won 12 seats, with the Left parties victorious on the remaining eight seats. The BJP is yet to open its Lok Sabha account in the state.
In Karnataka, the BJP seems to have their noses ahead in many of the 14 seats going to the polls even though it faces a tough challenge from the Congress-JD-S combine. With the completion of the third phase, the election process will be completed in southern states
* How many constituencies are going to polls in the third phase?
The third phase of Lok Sabha elections will see polling in 116 seats across 15 states and Union Territories. Besides all seats in Gujarat (26) and Kerala (20), voting will be held in four seats in Assam, five in Bihar, seven in Chhattisgarh, 14 each in Karnataka and Maharashtra, six in Odisha, 10 in Uttar Pradesh, five in West Bengal, two in Goa, and one each in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Tripura.
* Who are the prominent candidates in fray in the third phase?
Among the well-known candidates in the fray in the third phase of Lok Sabha elections are BJP chief Amit Shah, who replaced LK Advani as the party nominee from Gandhinagar, and Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who will be contesting for the first time from Wayanad.
Union Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Jaswantsinh Bhabhor is the BJP nominee from Gujarat’s Dahod seat. Union minister Alphons Kannamthanam is seeking to make his Lok Sabha debut from Ernakulam while sitting Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has been pitted against former governor Kummanam Rajasekharan of BJP in Thiruvananthapuram.
Coming to Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav is contesting from Mainpuri, while his brother Shivpal Singh Yadav will take on his nephew and SP candidate Akshay Yadav from Firozabad. Mulayam has said this will be his last contest.
Another seat that will be closely watched will be Rampur, where senior SP leader Azam Khan is contesting against his one-time party colleague Jaya Prada.
In Bihar, the key contest is in Madhepura, where sitting MP Pappu Yadav, who had won on an RJD ticket in 2014, is contesting for the Jan Adhikar Party. He is up against RJD candidate Sharad Yadav.
The Anantnag seat in Jammu and Kashmir is likely to see a triangular contest between the former chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, state Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir and National Conference’s Hasnain Masoodi, a retired high court judge who recently entered politics.
* How many seats had BJP, Congress won out of the 116 constituencies?
The BJP and its allies had bagged 66 seats out of these 116 in the 2014 general elections, while the Congress and its alliance partners won 27, and the rest went to other opposition parties and Independents.
* Why is polling in East Tripura seat being held in the third phase?
The Election Commission had deferred polls to Tripura East Lok Sabha constituency from April 18 after complaints by opposition parties. The CPM and the Congress accused BJP workers of political violence, rigging and restraining of voters during polling for Tripura West on April 11.
Tripura East is one of the two Lok Sabha constituencies in the state and covers 30 of its 60 Assembly constituencies. The tribal-dominated reserved constituency has been held by the CPM since 1996.
The BJP has fielded school teacher and youth leader Rebati Tripura (43). The CPM has fielded sitting MP Jitendra Choudhury (60). The Congress candidate is Maharaj Kumari Pragya Debbarma (50), daughter of the Manikya dynasty’s last king Kirit Bikram Debbarma.