India goes to last phase polls today

Gautam Lahiri

18th May, 2019 10:15:44 printer

New Delhi: The last phase of general elections in India will be held today with ruling BJP and opposition Congress optimistic about victory.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expecting a second term in office through the elections while Congress is trying to forge an alliance in a move to assume power.

Congress is ready to sacrifice the prime ministerial post, if it is voted to power.

The neck and neck contest in the 17th Lok Sabha polls has put Modi in an acid test to secure party victory.

Varanasi gears up to vote in the last phase of Lok Sabha polls today. Modi, who represents Varanasi as an MP, is up against Congress leader Ajay Rai. In 2014, Rai came third behind Arvind Kejriwal while Modi had swept the polls by a margin of over 3,00,000 votes. So, this contest is a mere walkover for Modi in Varanasi.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi is contesting polls from their family pocket borough of Amethi along with Wayanad. If he is elected from both the places, he will withdraw himself from Amethi. In that case, his sister Priyanka Gandhi will contest the by-polls.

Voting in 59 constituencies in eight states and union territories will be held in the seventh or final phase of the parliamentary polls.

The seats include 13 in Uttar Pradesh, nine in Paschimbanga (West Bengal), eight in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh each, four in Himachal, three in Jharkhand and one in Chandigarh.

The BJP is contesting 11 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh in this phase, while its ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) is contesting Mirzapur, currently held by Union minister Anupriya Patel, and Robertsganj.

Voting will be held for 13 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, which will see Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking re-election from Varanasi.

Polling will be held in Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria, Bansgaon (SC), Ghosi, Salempur, Ballia, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur and Robertsganj (SC).

Union minister Manoj Sinha and Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey are seeking re-election from Ghazipur and Chandauli respectively.

The BJP has pitted Bhojpuri actor Ravi Kishan from Gorakhpur against Congress’s Madhusudan Tripathi and Rambhual Nishad of the Samajwadi Party.

Gorakhpur MP Pravin Nishad, who had won the seat on a SP ticket in by-polls last year, has joined BJP. The party has fielded him from Sant Kabir Nagar seat.

Gorakhpur was represented by Yogi Adityanath in the Lok Sabha from 1998 to 2017, before he became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. The electioneering saw Priyanka holding two back-to-back roadshows in Kushinagar and Mirzapur during the day and Union minister Smriti Irani riding a scooty in Gorkahpur.

The final phase of the Lok Sabha polls in the state will also decide the fate of eight Samajwadi Party (SP) and five Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidates.

In all, there are 167 candidates in the fray for the 13 seats. The highest number of 26 candidates in the fray is from Varanasi, while Bansgaon has the least number of four candidates fighting the polls. Over 2.32 crore voters are expected to exercise their franchise in this phase in UP. As many as 25,874 polling booths have been set up in 13,979 polling centres in the final phase, the Election Commission said.

BJP has taken West Bengal seriously for its victory. It would like to offset the loss caused in the Uttar Pradesh. Security in and out the polling centres has been intensified to fend off any untoward incident in West Bengal.