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Fourth phase of LS polls: Campaigning ends for 96 Lok Sabha seats

Fourth phase of LS polls: Campaigning ends for 96 Lok Sabha seats
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New Delhi: Campaigning for May 13 elections in 96 Lok Sabha constituencies across 10 states and Union territories including all seats in Andhra Pradesh, where assembly elections are also being held concurrently, and Telangana concluded on Saturday evening.

Issues like reservations, appeasement politics, corruption and jobs dominated the battle of narratives in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections.

Among the prominent candidates in the fray are Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav (Kannauj, UP), Union ministers Giriraj Singh (Begusarai, Bihar) and Nityanand Rai (Ujiarpur, Bihar), Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (Baharampur, WB), BJP’s Pankaja Munde (Beed, Maharashtra), AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi (Hyderabad, Telangana) and Andhra Pradesh Congress president YS Sharmila (Kadapa).

Union minister Ajay Kumar Mishra Teni, whose son is an accused in the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, is eyeing a hat-trick from Kheri (UP), while TMC’s Mahua Moitra, who was expelled from Lok Sabha in the wake of cash-for query allegations, is seeking re-election from Krishnanagar in West Bengal.

Polling will be held on Monday in 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana, 25 in Andhra Pradesh, 13 in Uttar Pradesh, five in Bihar, four in Jharkhand, eight in Madhya Pradesh, 11 in Maharashtra, four in Odisha, eight in West Bengal and one in Jammu and Kashmir.

The BJP-led NDA has MPs from over 40 of these 96 seats.

Voting will simultaneously be held in 175 Assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh, which is witnessing a triangular contest involving YSRC, the Congress-led INDIA bloc and the NDA, comprising the BJP, Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP and Pawan Kalyan-led Jana Sena Party (JSP).

The campaign saw BJP leaders led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacking the Congress over the remarks of Rahul Gandhi’s close aide Sam Pitroda on “race” and “skin colour” of Indians. They accused the INDIA bloc parties of being “anti-Hindu” and engaging in “loot, appeasement” and “dynastic politics”.

The Congress targeted the BJP over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “tempo loads of money” remarks and persisted with its offensive on the issues of protecting the Constitution and reservations.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath addressed election rallies in Unnao, Kannauj and Kanpur on Saturday, while the Samajwadi Party (SP) held a public outreach programme in Kannauj Lok Sabha constituency.

Among the 13 poll-bound constituencies, a close contest is on between SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and sitting BJP MP Subrat Pathak in Kannauj, while in Unnao, incumbent BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj is up against SP’s Annu Tandon.

Prime Minister Modi on Wednesday accused the Congress of having a “deal” with businessmen Ambani and Adani, and asked if the party has received “tempo loads of black money” from the two for its leader Rahul Gandhi to stop “abusing” them.

Hitting back, Gandhi dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to hold a probe by the CBI or ED into whether Adani and Ambani sent black money to his party and taunted if Modi was speaking from his “personal experience” that they send their “money in a tempo”.

On the same day, Pitroda resigned as the Chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress after his controversial remarks spurred the BJP to label the Congress “racist” and left it scampering to control the damage.

Slamming the Congress and INDIA bloc, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in on May 5 said that Muslims now understand that the Congress and INDIA bloc are using them as pawns, asserting that the community is distancing itself from them after seeing the development carried out by the BJP.

On Friday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said an INDIA bloc storm is arriving in Uttar Pradesh, and asserted that Narendra Modi will not make it to the post of prime minister this time.

Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav addressed joint rallies in Kannauj and Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, where the two parties are contesting as allies. Under their seat-sharing agreement, the Congress is fighting on 17 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

In his Kanpur address, Gandhi claimed the Congress will win at least 50 seats in UP.

The SP chief on Saturday termed the ongoing Lok Sabha elections as a “national movement” for the cause of the Constitution and to protect reservations.

On May 4, Modi held a roadshow in Kanpur to campaign for the BJP’s candidates from the Kanpur and Akbarpur constituencies.

Campaigning also ended for bypolls to the Dadraul assembly constituency in Shahjahanpur district that fell vacant following the death of BJP MLA Manvendra Singh on January 5.

In Andhra Pradesh, the ruling YSRCP is contesting in all 175 Assembly seats and 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.

As part of a seat-sharing deal among NDA partners, the TDP was allocated 144 Assembly and 17 Lok Sabha constituencies while the BJP will contest from six Lok Sabha and 10 Assembly seats.

The Janasena will contest two Lok Sabha and 21 Assembly seats.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the YSRCP had won 22 seats while TDP was reduced to just 3.

YSRCP president and Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy (Pulivendla), TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu (Kuppam) and Janasena chief and actor Pawan Kalyan (Pithapuram), among others, are in the Assembly poll race.

Leaders of all political parties made a last-ditch effort to woo voters in the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency, where 24 candidates are in the fray.

The National Conference has fielded influential Shia leader Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi while youth leader Waheed Para is contesting on a People’s Democratic Party ticket. The Apni Party has fielded Ashraf Mir.

In Bihar, three of the seats are currently held by the BJP and the party is optimistic following rallies of Prime Minister Modi in Darbhanga and Munger.

Of the 29 seats in Madhya Pradesh, polling is over in 21 in the first three phases of the general elections. The eight constituencies in Madhya Pradesh spread over 64 assembly segments in 15 districts in the state’s Malwa-Nimar region, are considered the bastion of the BJP.

In Indore, after Congress candidate Akshay Bam withdrew his nomination at the last minute and joined the saffron party setting the stage for a one-sided contest for BJP’s Shankar Lalwani, who won by nearly 5.4 lakh votes in 2019, the Congress urged voters to hit NOTA.

Polling for next three phases is on May 20, May 25 and June 1. Counting of votes is on June 4.


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