National Elections Phase 7: Key Constituencies
Fifty-nine constituencies are going to the polls in phase seven. This is the final round of polling for the ongoing Lok Sabha polls. The result will be declared on May 23rd.
The general elections are finally coming to a close, with the last phase of polling on May 19th. Fifty-nine constituencies are going to the polls in phase seven. However, some constituencies are being perceived as more important than others. Here are some of the important constituencies that are going to polls.
Gurdaspur in Punjab is staring at a riveting contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress. A border seat, Gurdaspur was traditionally considered a stronghold of the Congress, but the BJP has won from here four times. The BJP wrested it when it fielded actor Vinod Khanna in 1998. The party also bagged it in the 1999, 2004 and 2014 elections. However, the Congress’ Sunil Jakhar won the by-election triggered by Khanna’s death in 2017. Jakhar is contesting again, and the BJP has fielded actor Sunny Deol against him.
This constituency was represented by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal in 2014. She is up for re-election again and is aiming to win the seat for the third time in a row. She is up against the Congress' Amarinder Singh Raka, the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Baljinder Kaur and Punjab Ekta Party (PEP) chief Sukhpal Singh Khaira.
Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh
The seat was represented by senior BJP leader Anurag Thakur in 2014. Thakur, son of former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, has represented this seat since 2008. Thakur is pitted against Congress candidate Ram Lal Thakur, the MLA from the Sri Naina Deviji Assembly seat, which also falls under the Hamirpur Lok Sabha constituency.
Chandigarh, Union Territory
Chandigarh is considered to be a bellweather constituency, having accurately followed the national trend in 10 of the last 11 Lok Sabha elections. The seat was won by actor-turned-politician Kirron Kher in 2014. She defeated AAP candidate Gul Panag and Congress candidate Pawan Kumar Bansal. Bansal is a former Union minister and has represented this constituency from 1999 to 2014. He is taking on Kher again while AAP has fielded Harmohan Dhawan.
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
This is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency. He won from here in 2014. However, the political landscape is different this time. Unlike the last time, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal is not contesting against him. Instead, he is facing five-time Congress MLA Ajay Rai and Shalini Yadav of the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance. Modi won by a margin of 3.5 lakh votes in 2014, and the BJP is claiming he will win this time with a record margin this time.
Long considered a bastion of the BJP, Gorakhpur is witness to a different situation this time. The seat was represented by Yogi Adityanath for five terms before he resigned to become Chief Minister of UP. However, this was the seat that saw the successful experiment of the SP and BSP alliance last year when the candidate backed by them, Praveen Kumar Nishad, won the by-election. He has since joined the BJP. The SP has fielded Ram Bhuwal Nishad as the grand alliance candidate, while the Congress has fielded Madhusudan Tripathi. The BJP has given the ticket to Bhojpuri actor Ravi Kishan.
This constituency was represented by Union Minister Manoj Sinha in the last Lok Sabha polls. He is up for re-election again. Sinha’s series of development works in the constituency over the past five years may help the BJP counter the numerically stronger social combination of the BSP-SP alliance, say observers. The BSP, which got this seat in its share in the alliance, has fielded former MP Afzal Ansari as its nominee against Sinha.
Patna Sahib, UP
This constituency is witnessing an interesting fight in this election. This seat was won by actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha for the BJP in both 2009 and 2014. However, he has since stormed out of the party after a tense relationship with the party high command. Now, he is contesting on a Congress ticket. He is up against Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Jadavpur, West Bengal
This prestigious Lok Sabha seat was once represented by former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee. However, since 1996, the seat has been a bastion of the Trinamool Congress. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has also represented the seat when she was in the Congress. The TMC has fielded Bengali actress Mimi Chakrabarty, who is making her political debut, here. She is up against the CPI(M)’s Bikas Ranjan Bhattacharya and the BJP’s Anupam Hazra.