India voted to elect candidates for 117 Lok Sabha seats spread over 13 states and 2 Union territories. The total number of candidates trying their luck in this phase is 1640. The polling is spread over 7 phases, and the final results will be released on 23 May 2019.
Key seats with high political stakes in Phase III of polls
Lok Sabha seat: Wayanad, Kerala
Key candidates: Rahul Gandhi (Cong); PP Suneer (CPI); Usha K. (CPI-ML)
The fate of Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been decided today in his back-up constituency of Wayanad. Considered a safe seat for the Congress, Rahul Gandhi does not face a strong opposition here. Over 20 candidates have filed nominations, but his challenge comes from CPI candidate PP Suneer, a party still reeling from the Congress decision to field Rahul Gandhi from here.
In 2014, Congress candidate MI Shanavas defeated CPI’s Satyen Mokheri by 20,870 votes.
Lok Sabha seat: Gandhinagar, Gujarat
Key candidates: Amit Shah (BJP); CJ Chavda (Cong)
This contest is expected to be an easy win for BJP president Amit Shah. Its why he has spent more time canvassing for other candidates across India than in his constituency.
BJP patriarch LK Advani is the sitting MP, but the party has forced his retirement giving the important seat to Shah. In 2014, LK Advani defeated Kirtibhai I Patel (Cong) by 4,83,120 votes. In 2019, the difference between the winner and the next candidate’s votes is expected to be large.
Lok Sabha seat: Rampur, U.P
Key candidates: Jaya Prada (BJP; Azam Khan (SP); Sanjay Kapoor (Cong)
It is a bitter fight between two former colleagues who did not share a warm relationship when both were part of the Samajwadi Party. Jaya Prada has now joined the BJP, and she has taken on the local strongman, Azam Khan, on his home turf.
The voters stand polarized between the two camps. Azam Khan retains his Muslim support base with the added advantage of BSP’s Dalit and other backward class votes, whereas, Jaya Prada has the full strength of the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the BJP backing her. This fight goes beyond the usual rivalry, and the outcome is expected to leave voters polarized beyond elections.
In 2014, Dr Nepal Singh (BJP) had defeated Naseer Ahmed Khan (SP) by 23,435 votes.
Lok Sabha seat: Anantnag, J&K
Key candidates: Mehbooba Mufti (PDP); Hasnain Masoodi (NC)
Former CM Mehbooba Mufti is in for a tough fight this time if the voters come out to vote in full force. Anantnag is the Mufti family stronghold where she defeated Mirza Mehboob Beg (NC) by 65,417 votes in 2014.
In 2009, NC’s Mirza Mehmood Beg had defeated the PDP candidate by a narrow margin, so in 2019, it may end up in a close fight once again given Mehbooba Mufti faces anti-incumbency this time. She faces an unhappy voter still smarting from the failed PDP-BJP experiment in the state.
Lok Sabha seat: Madhepura, Bihar
Key candidates: Sharad Yadav (RJD); Dinesh Yadav (JD-U); Pappu Yadav (JAP-L)
Madhepura has been a strong base for Sharad Yadav who has won the seat four times, the last in 2009; twice from Janata Dal and JD-U, respectively. In 2014, he faced Pappu Yadav (RJD) and lost by 56,209 votes. In 2019, Pappu Yadav is fighting on a JAP-L ticket and will find defending this seat difficult against Sharad Yadav (RJD).
Lok Sabha seat: Puri, Odisha
Key candidates: Sambit Patra (BJP); Pinaki Mishra (BJD)
BJP’s television face Sambit Patra today faced BJD lawyer Pinaki Mishra who is the sitting MP from Puri. In 2014, Mishra received 5,23,161 votes; Sucharita Mohanty (Cong) 2,59,800 votes; Ashok Sahu (BJP) 2,15,763 votes.
In 2019, the Congress has conceded space to an aggressive BJP which feels it has a strong chance of winning the prestigious Puri seat.
Lok Sabha seat: Baramati, Maharashtra
Key candidates: Supriya Sule (NCP); Kanchan Kool (BJP)
Baramati is NCP Leader Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule’s bastion, a seat she has retained since 2009. In 2009, she defeated Kanta Nalawade (BJP) by 3,36,831 votes; in 2014, she beat MJ Jankar (RSPS) by 69,719 votes. In 2019, her main fight is with BJP’s Kanchan Kool.