Third phase polling on Tuesday across 15 states
New Delhi: People in 15 states will vote on Tuesday in the third phase of Lok Sabha elections scheduled for Tuesday which will see a maximum of 117 seats going to the polls in a single phase of seven-phased election.
Voting will be completed in all seats of Gujarat, Kerala, Goa, Karanataka, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Karnataka, Kerala, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu with the third phase polls.
The presidents of the two main political parties are in fray in the third phase with BJP chief Amit Shah making his Lok Sabha election debut from Gandhinagar and Congress president Rahul Gandhi contesting from Wayanad.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will aim to defend 62 of the 117 third phase seats it won in 2014 and its performance in this phase will be crucial in deciding its political fortunes.
The Congress had won 16 seats, while the remaining seats were divided between BJD (6), CPI-M (7), NCP (4), Samajwadi Party (3), Shiv Sena (2), RJD (2), AIUDF (2), IUML (2), LJP (1), PDP (1), RSP (1), Kerala Congress-M (1), CPI (1), Swabhimani Paksha (1) and Trinamool Congress (1). Three seats were won by Independent candidates.
This time the BJP will be tested in its bastion Gujarat — where polling will be held for all the 26 Lok Sabha seats — apart from Karanataka, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh, where the party had done well in 2014.
In 2014, the BJP won all the 26 seats in Gujarat, 11 of 14 in Karnataka, 8 of 10 in Uttar Pradesh, 6 of 7 in Chhattisgarh, 6 of 14 in Maharashtra, both the seats in Goa and one seat each in Assam, Bihar, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
In Odisha, the third phase of elections will witness a battle between several political heavyweights as well as former bureaucrats.
Puri will witness a triangular fight between spokespersons of three major political parties, as two-time sitting MP and BJD spokesman Pinaki Mishra will cross swords with BJP’s national spokesperson Sambit Patra and state Congress media cell Chairman Satya Prakash Nayak. Dhenkanal is also expected to witness a triangular fight.
Gujarat being the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP would again look for a clean sweep in the state. However, the Congress, which gave a tough fight to the BJP in the Assembly polls held in 2017, is hoping to win 10 to 15 seats this time.
The three young Gujarat leaders — Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mewani — whose positions had helped the Congress build a narrative against the BJP during the Assembly elections, are not in the fray for the Lok Sabha polls.
Patidar agitation leader Patel, who joined the Congress last month, cannot contest due to his conviction in a rioting case, while Thakor quit the Congress earlier this month.
In Karnataka, the BJP is considered to have strong footing in many of the 14 seats going to the polls on Tuesday. However, the saffron party faces tough challenge from the Congress-JD-S combine.
Moreover, its vote share too dipped in the Assembly polls held in Karnataka last year as compared to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. In the Assembly elections, the BJP had polled lesser votes than the Congress but got more seats.
The BJP faces a strong challenge in Uttar Pradesh, as the third phase of Lok Sabha elections will be fought in the “Yadav belt”.
The Samajwadi Party (SP) strongholds of Mainpuri, Badaun and Sambhal will go to the polls on Tuesday and the party’s prospects have received a considerabe boost following its alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The Congress too is also likely to cut into BJP votes.
In Maharashtra, the third phase of polling will be held in some NCP strongholds, including Baramati, Madha, Kolahpur and Satara. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule is contesting from the party’s bastion in Baramati.
In Chhattisgarh, the BJP has sought to beat the anti-incumbency wave against its sitting MPs by replacing all of them. Here the saffron party faces a renewed challenge from the Congress, which returned to power in the state in 2018 after 15 years. The Congress is focusing more on local issues, telling the voters that its government has quickly delivered on its promises.
Of the five seats in Bihar, the BJP had won only one in 2014 and it is again contesting one seat this time. Janata Dal (United), the BJP’s ally in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), is contesting three seats while the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) is contesting one seat.