Campaigning ends for 6th phase of Lok Sabha polls - GulfToday

Campaigning ends for 6th phase of Lok Sabha polls


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (centre) gestures during BJP’s Vijay Sankalp rally in Hoshiarpur on Friday. Agence France-Presse

Campaigning ended on Friday in 59 parliamentary constituencies spread over seven states which will go to the polls on Sunday in the penultimate phase of the mega seven-phase electoral exercise.

Voting will take place for 14 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 10 in Haryana, eight seats each in West Bengal, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, seven in Delhi and four in Jharkhand.

On the last day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed public meetings at Rohtak in Haryana, Mandi in Himachal Pradesh and Hoshiarpur in Punjab and hit out at Congress over various issues including over Sam Pitroda’s reported remarks “Hua to hua” on 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

BJP President Amit Shah addressed public meetings at Barwala in Hissar and Charkhi Dadri in Haryana while Congress President Rahul Gandhi addressed rallies in Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh.

BJP-ruled Haryana will go to the polls on all its 10 seats on May 12, the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha election, in a do-or-die battle for Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and his predecessor and ‘marginalised’ Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

The BJP, the Congress and Om Prakash Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) are the three main parties in the fray.

This time the state is witnessing an exciting contest just ahead of the Assembly elections.

Ex-Chief Minister Chautala’s grandsons — Arjun and the estranged Dushyant and Digvijay — are making their debut plunge into electoral politics.

Arjun and Digvijay Chautala are trying their luck from Kurukshetra and Sonipat seats respectively as candidates of the INLD and the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), a breakaway INLD faction.

Hisar is going to witness a triangular clash of dynasts from where Dushyant Chautala, who leads the JJP, is struggling to retain his seat. He is pitted against debutants Bhavya Bishnoi of the Congress and BJP’s bureaucrat-turned-politician Brijendra Singh.

While Bhavya, the youngest in the fray, is the grandson of late three-time Chief Minister Bhajan Lal, Brijendra Singh is the son of Congress turncoat and Steel Minister Birender Singh.

In a high-stakes battle, the Hoodas — father and son — are in the fray as Congress candidates.

The Congress has been on a steady downhill journey since its rout in the state in 2014. Former Chief Minister Hooda is trying his luck from Sonipat, while son Deepender is in the fray from his home turf Rohtak hoping for a fourth straight victory.

Hooda junior was the only Congress candidate among 10 in the state who managed to win in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The BJP had then polled 34.8 per cent of votes, winning seven seats, while the INLD secured two seats.

The Khattar government, banking high on its pro-incumbency and the Modi factor, is confident of a remarkable win after winning an Assembly bypoll in Jind in January where Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala finished third after JJP’s Digvijay Chautala.

It was the first time the BJP won the Jind seat.

Political experts told IANS that it may be a double whammy for the BJP this time.

First, the BJP government is facing anti-incumbency at the fag end of its tenure. Secondly, the Jat quota remains a major issue in the election where caste equation has played a determining role in each poll.

The Jats, a land-owning class comprising 30 per cent of the state’s population, blame the BJP government for not defending their demand for 10 per cent quota in jobs strongly in the Supreme Court that set aside that provision.

They are believed to be favouring the Congress and the INLD more than the BJP, which is banking on a large OBC community, particularly the Sainis.

“Infighting in the INLD and the Congress camps may somehow help the BJP overcome its loss mainly due to farm distress and lack of jobs,” a political observer told IANS.

This fallout will definitely dent the INLD more, the main opposition party in the state which had polled 24.4 per cent votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The impact could be seen largely in Jat-dominated seats of Rohtak, Sonipat, Bhiwani and Hisar, said the observer.

The stakes are high for Bhupinder Hooda in these elections as he is trying to prove that he is still a mass leader and could lead the Congress in the forthcoming Assembly polls.

Hooda was marginalised after the party’s humiliating defeat in the October 2014 Assembly polls held under his helm.

Indo-Asian News Service

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