All eyes on Modi, Shah as fourth phase gets underway

BJP had won 45 out of 71 seats going to polls on Monday, its allies won 11

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Senior BJP leader Amit Shah. PTI file photo

Around 12.79 crore voters will queue up before polling stations in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections on Monday. The big question is: Will the BJP manage to retain its 2014 strike rate?

The saffron party had won 45 out of the 71 seats last time. Its allies had won another 11, leaving just 15 to Opposition parties.

The Congress had won just two among these seats spread over nine states while regional parties had won the rest — Shiv Sena bagged nine in Maharashtra, Trinamool Congress six in West Bengal, LJP two in Bihar while Samajwadi Party won one in Uttar Pradesh.

So far, voting for 302 seats have been completed in the first three phases. While the fourth will be held on Monday, the fifth phase will be on May 6 followed by sixth and seventh phases on May 12 and May 19 respectively. The counting of votes will be held on May 23.

According to the Election Commission, 961 candidates are contesting in the fourth phase, including a number of political scions. 

While some like Congress’ Milind Deora, son of late former Union minister Murli Deora, and BJP’s Poonam Mahajan, daughter of late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, are contesting again, the new kids on the block are Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s son Nakul Nath, who is contesting from his father’s pocket borough Chhindwara, and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s son Vaibhav, who is fighting from Jodhpur.

Congress’ Priya Dutt, daughter of the late actor-turned-politician Sunil Dutt, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav’s wife and sitting MP Dimple Yadav are also contesting again. Dimple is contesting again from Uttar Pradesh’s Kannauj, where she faced a tough contest in 2014.

Bihar’s Begusarai will witness another interesting fight where young CPI leader Kanhaiya Kumar is taking on Union Minister and Hindutva hardliner Giriraj Singh,
who was actually not eager to shift from his sitting seat Nawada.

Kanhaiya had been a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and was the face of student protests as the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union president.

The contest has turned more interesting with the RJD fielding Tanveer Hassan. With Kanhaiya’s candidature, Begusarai had attracted a number of Bollywood celebrities like Swara Bhaskar and Javed Akhtar as well as youth leaders like Jignesh Mevani and Sheila Rasheed campaigning there.

In the fourth phase, the maximum number of seats that are going to polls are in Maharashtra (17), followed by Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh (13 each). All the six seats in the metro city of Mumbai will go to polls on Monday when film stars and top businessmen come out to vote. 

With Monday’s polling, the four-phased polls in Maharashtra and Odisha are ending. In Odisha, one of the keen fights will be in Kendrapara where BJD-turned-BJP leader Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda is seeking re-election. With an eye on ensuring Panda’s defeat in his stronghold, the BJD has fielded Odiya superstar and party’s Rajya Sabha MP Anubhav Mohanty to regain the seat.

Phase 4
Seats 71
States 9

State / No of Seats voting / Party position in 2014

Bihar - 5 - BJP/3, LJP/2
Jharkhand - 3 - BJP/3
Madhya Pradesh - 6 - BJP/5, Cong/1
Maharashtra - 17 - BJP/8, Shiv Sena/9
Odisha - 6 - BJD/6
Rajasthan - 13 - BJP/13
Uttar Pradesh - 13 - BJP/12, SP/1
West Bengal - 8 - BJP/1, Cong/1, TMC/6

Third and final phase of polling in Jammu and Kashmir's Anantnag also to be held on Monday

Prominent candidates

Begusarai: Kanhaiya Kumar (CPI), Giriraj Singh (BJP)
Urmila Matondkar: Urmila Matondkar (Congress)
Mumbai North Central: Poonam Mahajan (BJP), Priya Dutt (Congress)
Mumbai South: Milind Deora (Congress)
Kannauj: Dimple Yadav (SP)
Chhindwara: Nakul Nath (Congress)
Jodhpur: Vaibhav Gehlot (Congress)

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