The 2019 Lok Sabha elections are set to begin in just two days. In Phase 1 of India’s general elections, 91 seats from 20 different states will be up for polling.
All constituencies in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Lakshadweep will vote in the first phase.
Only some in Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Manipur, Odisha, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh (UP), West Bengal, and Andaman, are gearing up to choose their representatives in this phase.
All campaigning for these constituencies has ceased as per the rules in the model code of conduct. A total of 1,279 candidates are contesting elections in the first phase.
Key fights in the first phase
Uttar Pradesh sends a whopping 80 elected candidates to the Lok Sabha and is, naturally, the focus of both, the Congress and BJP.
However, the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samajwadi Party, and Rashtriya Lok Dal have formed an alliance to contest against the BJP in the state. Congress UP in-charge, Priyanka Gandhi, has also been touring various constituencies to meet with voters, especially those belonging to backward castes.
Uttarakhand is also an important fight between the BJP and Congress. The BJP has nominated the incumbents in Tehri, Haridwar, Nainital, and Pithoragarh for re-election. However, the incumbent for the Pauri constituency, former CM BC Khanduri, is concerned about his health.
Andhra Pradesh will be a battleground between the Youth, Labour, and Farmer Party (YSRP) and Telugu Desam Party (TDP). The Congress and BJP are also contesting on their own, in the state.
The Amalapuram constituency is expected to play an important role this election cycle, because TDP leader Pandula Ravindra Babu resigned from his seat this year. The Congress had won the seat from Amalapuram for the two consecutive years prior to the TDP in 2014.
The Araku constituency that has the Gondi tribe will also be a tester for either party’s popularity with the locals. V Kishore Chandra Suryanarayana Deo who quit the Congress is now standing as a candidate for the TDP in Araku.
Similarly, Odisha’s Koratpur district that is dominated by the Kondh and Saura tribes will likely see a triangular battle between the Congress, BJP, and Biju Janata Dal (BJP), the last of which has the sitting MP.
Candidates from all three parties hail from the Kondh tribe. However, the BJP has earned some political capital after former MP from Koratpur, Giridhar Gamang, quit the Congress and joined the BJP. Gamang belongs to the Saura tribe.
Rajasthan’s Jaipur Rural seat is coveted by both, the Congress and BJP. In 2014, the BJP’s Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore beat Congress leader CP Joshi by over 3 lakh votes. However, Olympian discus thrower, gold-medalist, and Padma Shri recipient Krishna Poonia will take on Rathore for the Congress.
In Karnataka, the BJP is predicted to face friction as the Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) have nominated joint candidates to prevent a split vote between them. In 2014, the BJP won six of the 28 seats from Karnataka in 2014. 14 of the state’s seats will go to the polls in Phase-2.
Congress official Ravi Gowda said that the combined vote share between the JD-S and Congress in 2014 was 51.8%, so the prospects of the two parties winning jointly against the BJP is higher.
Telangana’s Chevella constituency will see an interesting contest. Reports say that the candidates with the most wealth disparity between them in the first phase are fighting from Chevella.
The Congress’ Konda Vishweshwar Reddy has declared assets worth of Rs 895 crore. His wife declared Rs. 612 crore and son declared Rs 19 crore worth of cash, shares, bank deposits, investments, and jewellery.
In stark contrast, Prem Janata Dal candidate for the same seat Nalla Prem Kumar declared only Rs 500 in a savings account.
Upcoming seats and Lok Sabha election updates
The elections will be conducted in seven phases.
On April 18, Phase-2 will commence for 97 seats across Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Manipur, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Puducherry.
The BJP has announced that Party President Amit Shah will be a first time candidate from Gandhinagar, where LK Advani has been the sitting MP since 1998. PM Modi will be contesting from Varanasi as an incumbent.
Current textiles minister Smriti Irani will be facing off against Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi in UP.
The Lok Sabha elections will be held between April 11 and May 19. The Model Code of Conduct is in force during this time. The Election Commission is due to declare results on May 23.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius
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