The high octave electoral campaign for the sixth phase of Lok Sabha polls has come to a standstill on Friday evening. Fifty-nine constituencies, spread over seven states, including the national capital, are scheduled to go to polls in this phase of General Elections on Sunday, i.e. May 12, 2019. Voting will take place for 14 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, 10 in Haryana, 8 seats each in West Bengal, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, 7 in Delhi and 4 in Jharkhand to decide the fate of 968 candidates.
Prominent candidates in the contest include, former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh, BJP's Bhopal Lok Sabha candidate Paragya Singh Thakur, Olympian boxer Vijender Singh, Union minister Harsh Vardhan, Congress general secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia, cricketer-turned -politician Gautam Gambhir and AAP's East Delhi nominee Atishi.
The stakes are high for the ruling BJP as it had swept 45 of these 59 seats in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, leaving 8 for the Trinamool Congress, two for the Congress and one for the Samajwadi Party and the LJP each.
Though the number of seats is far less than the constituencies that went on polls in the first five phases, the sixth phase is crucial as it will witness a direct fight between several key contestants in the states.
In Uttar Pradesh's Sultanpur, BJP has fielded Union Minister Maneka Gandhi against BSP candidate Chandra Bhadra Singh and Congress' Dr Sanjay Sinh. Currently, the Sultanpur is represented by Maneka Gandhi's son Varun Gandhi who won the seat in 2014 by a margin of over one lakh votes. Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is pitted against BJP's Nirahua, a Bhojpuri star, from the Azamgarh Lok Sabha seat while the Congress has not fielded any candidate from the constituency. Samajwadi Party patriarch and Akhilesh Yadav's father Mulayam Singh Yadav is the sitting MP in the seat.
Madhya Pradesh is expected to witness a tough battle with BJP candidate Pragya Singh Thakur and former chief minister Digvijaya Singh locking horn from the politically crucial Bhopal Lok Sabha seat. Jyotiraditya Scindia, the Congress general secretary in-charge western Uttar Pradesh, is seeking another term from Guna, which he has been representing since 2002. Scindia, who had won in 2014 Lok Sabha polls by over one lakh votes, will face BJP's KP Yadav.
The single-phase Lok Sabha elections in Delhi is largely being seen as a three-way contest among the BJP, the Congress and the AAP. All three major parties in the capital have stepped up political heat against their opponents at the fag-end, bringing in a fair share of controversies.
Among the seven seats in the national capital, the contest in the North-East Delhi, East Delhi and South Delhi seats is being keenly watched for years. Former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir, who had last month joined BJP in presence of party bigwigs in Delhi, is pitted against AAP's Atishi and Congress candidate Arvinder Singh Lovely from the East Delhi Lok Sabha constituency.
In North-East Delhi, Congress has fielded former chief minister Sheila Dikshit against BJP's sitting MP Manoj Tiwari while in South Delhi, Congress' Vijender Singh will fight against BJP's sitting MP Ramesh Bidhuri and AAP leader Raghav Chadha. In a thumping performance, the BJP had in 2014 elections swept all the seven Lok Sabha seats.
Haryana will witness single-phase polling on all 10 parliamentary constituencies on May 12. BJP had registered landslide victory on seven Lok Sabha seats in Haryana in 2014.
In Bihar, Valmiki Nagar, Paschim Champaran, Purvi Champaran, Sheohar, Vaishali, Gopalganj, Siwan and Maharajganj constituencies will go to polls.
The sixth phase of Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal will cover Jangal Mahal – the forested region of Bankura, West Midnapore, Jhargram and Purulia districts which used to be a Maoist hotbed during the erstwhile Left Front regime. Seats which will go to polls in West Bengal include Tamluk, Kanthi, Ghatal, Jhargram (ST), Medinipur, Purulia, Bankura and Bishnupur (SC).
In the first five phases, election was held to 91, 96, 117, 72 and 51 seats on April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29 and May 6 respectively. Polling for the remaining 57 Lok Sabha seats will take place in the seventh phase on May 19.
The seven phase Lok Sabha elections in 543 parliamentary constituencies is scheduled to be held on April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19. The counting of votes for all phases will be taken up on May 23.