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28 Feb 2020, Edition - 1690, Friday

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Lok Sabha election: Can BJP repeat its 2014 show on 51 seats of 5th phase?


Fifty-one Lok Sabha seats are up for grabs in the fifth phase of the parliamentary polls for which votes are being cast today. The BJP had won 80 per cent of these seats in 2014 Lok Sabha election. It had won 40 of these 51 Lok Sabha seats.

The Trinamool Congress had won seven and the Congress two of the rest 11 Lok Sabha seats. Five years down the line, the BJP is facing a tough challenge from the Opposition as the ruling party seeks reelection.

Stakes are high for the BJP in each of the seven states. In Uttar Pradesh, of 14 Lok Sabha seats of the fifth phase, the BJP had won 12 losing only Amethi and Rae Bareli, the constituencies represented by Congress president Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

The alliance of the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal is the serious challenger to the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. Going by the 2017 assembly election vote share, the combined strength of the SP, BSP and RLD would get better of the BJP in eight of the 14 seats.

Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi have retained Amethi and Rae Bareli respectively for three consecutive terms.

In Rajasthan, the BJP had won all 12 seats voting in this phase of the Lok Sabha election. But political equation has changed in Rajasthan since 2014. The Congress defeated the BJP in the assembly polls last year. The Congress’s success followed victories in Lok Sabha bypolls in the state.

Madhya Pradesh has too followed the same template as Rajasthan. The seven seats of Madhya Pradesh in the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha polls had gone to the BJP in 2014. But in the assembly election, which was held along with the state polls of Rajasthan, the Congress returned to power after 15 years. The Congress had earlier won a by-election to the Lok Sabha in Ratlam Lok Sabha constituency.

In West Bengal, it was the TMC all over on the seven seats where election is being held in the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha polls. The BJP banks heavily in West Bengal to compensate the presumed loss that it may suffer in the Hindi heartland, where it had made almost a clean sweep five years ago. Every phase of Lok Sabha election in West Bengal counts for the BJP.

In Bihar, the BJP had won four of the five seats in the contest today. The fifth seat had gone to the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party, RLSP. But the RLSP is part of the Opposition alliance this time along with the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Congress and the Vikassheel Insaaf Party. The BJP-Janata Dal United-Lok Janshakti Party alliance is facing tough fight from the united Opposition in Bihar.

In Jharakhnd, polling is underway in four Lok Sabha constituencies. The BJp had won all four in 2014. It is facing double anti-incumbency there as the state government of Raghubar Das will be completing its tenure later this year.

The seventh state voting in this phase of the Lok Sabha polls is Jammu and Kashmir where polling is underway in Ladakh parlamentary constituency and Pulwama and Shopian district under the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat.

Of all the 51 seats, Amethi and Rae Bareli are the most keenly observed electoral battle. Amethi is witnessing the most high-profile contest between Union minister Smriti Irani and Rahul Gandhi.

With fifth phase of polling, the election would be over on 424 of 543 Lok Sabha seats. Election is being held on 542 seats. Polling at Vellore Lok Sabha seat in Tamil Nadu was cancelled due to excessive use of money. Voting at remaining 118 Lok Sabha seats will be held on May 12 and 19. Votes will be counted on May 23.

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