New Delhi: The sixth phase of the Lok Sabha election is going on in the country. Voting has started for 59 Lok Sabha seats in seven States. These include 14 of UP, 10 of Haryana, eight each of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, four of Jharkhand and all the seven seats in Delhi.
There are several prominent faces in these elections, including those of Radha Mohan Singh, Maneka Gandhi, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia. On Sunday, the fate of many veterans will be at stake. Here are some of the high-stakes battles.
The Bhopal seat in Madhya Pradesh is up for a fight of ideologies. Here, the senior Congress leader seen to take odd positions on the question of national security, Digvijaya Singh is in the fray. On the other side is the BJP’s Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur ― who is a Malegaon blast case accused to her detractors but a woman who has been framed for the votaries of Hindutva. Digvijaya Singh was the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh in the period 1993-2003 who lost the State due to strong anti-incumbency caused by crumbling infrastructure. Ever since he has stayed out of administration even in New Delhi politics despite the 10-year UPA rule, and yet he managed to grab the news headlines with his defence of the terror suspects in the Batla House encounter and for his conspiracy theory that the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai was conceived by the RSS.
Union minister Maneka Gandhi is in the electoral fray from the BJP for this seat. The Congress has given the ticket to former Union minister Sanjay Singh from Sultanpur. In this seat, Maneka’s son Varun Gandhi won the last election. This time the seats of the mother and the son were swapped. While Maneka is contesting from Sultanpur instead of Varun, Varun is trying his luck in mother Maneka’s seat Pilibhit.
This seat was held earlier by Mulayam Singh Yadav. His son and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is contesting from here this time, fighting the BJP candidate and Bhojpuri actor Dinesh Lal Nirhua. BJP had won 13 out of 14 seats in Uttar Pradesh in this phase of the Lok Sabha election in 2014; the only exception was Azamgarh where SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav had won.
4. East Delhi
Arguably the most popular of Delhi’s seven seats is the East Delhi Lok Sabha seat. In this seat, former Gandhi Nagar MLA and Congress leader Arvinder Singh Lovely is in the fray occupying an unenviable position in the media that is hardly talking about him. This despite the fact that Lovely won four times from the Gandhi Nagar Assembly seat of East Delhi. He was the youngest legislator to win in 1998.
The BJP has given the ticket to former cricketer Gautam Gambhir. The Aam Aadmi Party has made Atishi its candidate. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, this seat went to the BJP’s Maheish Girri who was, until then, a popular face of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living. It has been a bitterly fought battle, with the AAP trying to get the competition disqualified with allegations including one that Gambhir had two voter identity cards and secondly that he was behind an objectionable pamphlet circulated in parts of the constituency. Gambhir denied both the charges while slapping the opponent with a defamation suit for the second allegation.
5. North-East Delhi
In this seat, former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Dilip Pandey of Aam Aadmi Party are contesting against the BJP’s State unit head Manoj Tiwari. Manoj Tiwari won this seat in 2014. For this seat, the Congress recalled the work done by former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in Delhi. Just before the election of 2019, Congress president Rahul Gandhi had handed over the command of the Delhi Pradesh Congress to the octogenarian politician. The AAP’s Dilip Pandey was a former employee of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s NGO PCRF. His claim to fame is that he has been a trusted aide and part of the coterie of the chief minister who has seen many desertions since the party was formed.
6. North-West Delhi
Singer Hans Raj Hans is contesting on a BJP ticket from North-West Delhi. Hans Raj Hans started his political career with the Shiromani Akali Dal in 2009. Five years later, he joined the Congress in 2014. Then he joined the BJP on 10 December 2016. He replaced the incumbent Udit Raj who, as a disgruntled element, has quit the party and joined the Congress.
Hans is fighting Gugan Singh of the AAP and Rajesh Lelothia of the Congress.
7. South Delhi
Ramesh Bidhuri is the incumbent and repeat candidate of the BJP from this seat. Congress has given the ticket to boxer Vijender Singh. Chartered accountant Raghav Chadha is contesting from the Aam Aadmi Party ticket. In 2014, Bidhuri defeated Devender Sahrawat by a margin of 1,07,000 votes. The sitting MP enjoys a massive advantage of caste support in this constituency whereas Chadha may be deemed more appealing to the small, urbane section of the electorate.
8. East Champaran
The BJP has given the ticket to Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh from this seat. Radha Mohan Singh started politics as a student leader in 1967. The result of his public relations and public life is seen in his election as MP five times since 1989. Singh faces the RLSP’s Akash Singh in this seat.
47-year-old Jyotiraditya Scindia is a Lok Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh’s Guna constituency. This time again, he is in the field from this seat. On 30 September 2001, Madhavrao Scindia, father of Jyotiraditya, had died in a plane crash following which Jyotiraditya entered politics. He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 2002. He was re-elected in the 14th Lok Sabha in 2004.
Recently, Kirti Azad, who had joined the Congress, was made the candidate from the Dhanbad seat. Kirti Azad started his political career in 1993 as a BJP legislator, winning the election from the round market assembly seat of Delhi. In 1999, he was elected to the Lok Sabha election. In 2009 he won again in the Lok Sabha elections. He was made a member of the Human Resource Development Committee on 31 August 2009 and on 9 June 2013. He quit the BJP due to his differences with Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, which prompted him to motivate some AAP leaders to hold a press conference accusing the central minister of mishandling the Delhi cricket body, a charge for which the AAP leaders had to apologise to Jaitley before the court while facing defamation charges.
Azad would have had a better chance in north Bihar, but as a former cricketer, he is quite popular in Jharkhand as well.
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