Phase 7: Oppn eyes gains in changed pol scene

These seats are in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab (13 each), West Bengal (9), Bihar and Madhya Pradesh (8 each), Himachal Pradesh (4), Jharkhand (3) and Chandigarh (1). (Reuters File Photo)

BJP alone holds half of the 59 seats going to polls in the seventh and last phase of Lok Sabha elections in eight states where the Opposition is expecting gains, as the political landscape has changed since 2014.

These seats are in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab (13 each), West Bengal (9), Bihar and Madhya Pradesh (8 each), Himachal Pradesh (4), Jharkhand (3) and Chandigarh (1).

BJP currently holds 30 out of the 59 seats and it would be 32 if one counts Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's bastion Gorakhpur, which it lost to Samajwadi Party in a bypoll after SP and BSP came together, and Punjab's Gurdaspur where Congress defeated the saffron party after the death of sitting MP actor Vinod Khanna.

Its allies Akali Dal (4), RLSP (2), JD(U) and Apna Dal (one each) adds another eight to the NDA kitty from these 59 seats.

However, Upendra Kushwaha-led RLSP has split from the NDA and has joined the RJD-led Grand Alliance in Bihar where it holds the two sitting seats.

For the Opposition, Congress has five sitting seats, including Gurdaspur from where Sunil Jhakkar wrested the seat from BJP while the bigger number comes from Trinamool Congress holding all the nine seats in West Bengal that are going to polls in the seventh phase.

Congress hopes to increase its tally in Madhya Pradesh where it has just one sitting seat in the last phase while BJP has the rest seven. With Madhya Pradesh reins changing hands to Congress, the party feels that it could win at least a couple of more seats in this phase.

JMM holds two out of the three seats going to polls in Jharkhand where the third is held by BJP. JMM patriarch Shibu Soren is facing the electorate once more from Dumka in this phase.

In Punjab, Congress, AAP and Akali Dal have four each and BJP one. Incidentally, three out of four AAP MPs are not in good terms with the party. Congress believes that it would dramatically increase its numbers in Punjab this time while Akali Dal is working hard to avoid a sweep by the former.

Uttar Pradesh is another seat where the Opposition sees as a catchment area. Of the 13 going to polls, BJP won 12 and its ally Apna Dal one in 2014 but the saffron party lost one in bypolls.

This time, SP-BSP-RLD 'Mahagadbandhan' appears to be on a strong wicket and believes that BJP cannot repeat the 2014 feat. All eyes will be on Gorakhpur where the 'Mahagadbandhan' experiment started as Adityanath will be using all his might to retain his hold on the seat.

The Mahagadbandhan winner Praveen Nishad has however joined BJP this time following differences between SP, which has fielded another candidate in the seat.

Himachal Pradesh is another state where Congress wants to win at least a seat while it has set it sight on Chandigarh too where it believes the sitting BJP Kirron Kher is facing anti-incumbency.

State / Seats going to polls in 7th phase
Sitting Seats

Bihar: 8
BJP 5, JDU 1, RLSP 2

Himachal Pradesh: 4
BJP 4

Jharkhand: 3
BJP 1, JMM 2

Madhya Pradesh: 8
BJP 7, Congress 1

Punjab: 13
BJP 1, Akali Dal 4, Congress 4, AAP 4

Uttar Pradesh: 13
BJP 11, Apna Dal 1, Samajwadi Party 1

West Bengal: 9
Trinamool Congress 9

Chandigarh: 1
BJP 1

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