NEW DELHI The fate of several Union ministers including Radha Mohan Singh, Harshvardhan and Maneka Gandhi, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and Congress leaders Digvijay Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia will be decided Sunday in the sixth and penultimate phase of Lok Sabha polls to be held in 59 constituencies in six states and Delhi.
Elections will be held in 14 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 10 seats in Haryana, eight constituencies each in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, seven seats in Delhi and four in Jharkhand.
Over 10.17 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to choose among the 979 candidates in fray. The Election Commission has set up over 1.13 lakh polling stations for smooth conduct of polls.
Big test for BJP
The elections in this phase are seen as a big test for the BJP which had won 45 of these seats in 2014, with the Trinamool Congress bagging 8, the Congress two and the Samajwadi Party and the LJP one seat each among others.
In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP had won 13 of the 14 constituencies in 2014, the only exception being Azamgarh, won then by SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav.
However, the BJP had to face defeat in the bypolls in Phulpur and Gorakhpur constituencies last year. While, the anti-BJP alliance would like to retain its grip over both the seats, the saffron party is looking to wrest them from the opposition.
Their importance can be gauged from the fact that Gorakhpur was represented by Yogi Adityanath in Lok Sabha from 1998 to 2017, before he became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
Similarly, Phulpur was won for the first time by the BJP in 2014, when Keshav Prasad Maurya emerged victorious from the seat once represented by Jawaharlal Nehru, Indias first prime minister. Mr. Maurya vacated the seat after he became the deputy chief minister of the state in 2017.
In Azamgarh this time, Mr. Akhilesh is trying to retain his fathers seat against Bhojpuri film star Dinesh Lal Yadav Nirahua of the BJP.
Sultanpur too is seeing an interesting contest as the BJP has fielded Union Minister Maneka Gandhi for the seat won by her son Varun in 2014.
The seats appears tricky for Ms. Maneka as BJP strategists are relying on a division of Congress and gathbandhan votes, besides possible counter-polarisation of non-Yadav and non-Jatav Dalit and OBC votes.
Polling will also be held for Bhopal, Morena, Bhind (SC), Gwalior, Guna, Sagar, Vidisha and Rajgarh seats in Madhya Pradesh. This will be the third phase of polling in Madhya Pradesh, with the first and second phases having been held on April 29 and May 6. The last phase will be held on May 19.
The Bhopal seat will see an interesting fight between senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh and BJP nominee Pragya Singh Thakur.
Guna will seal the fate of AICC general secretary and Congress candidate Scindia. Union Minister and BJP nominee Narendra Singh Tomar is in the fray from Morena.
In the national capital, voting will be held in all the seven seats. As many as 164 candidates, including 18 women, are in the fray.
It is expected to be three-cornered fight involving the BJP, AAP and the Congress.
Prominent candidates in the fray include veteran Congress leader Sheila Dikshit, Olympian boxer Vijender Singh, Union Minister Harsh Vardhan, Atishi from AAP and her BJP rival cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir.
223 candidates in fray
Union Ministers Rao Inderjit Singh and Krishan Pal Gurjar are among the 223 candidates in fray in Haryana.
Former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, a sitting MLA of Congress from Rohtak district, is once again trying his luck to enter the lower House, this time from Sonipat. Earlier, Mr. Hooda had remained a four-time MP from Rohak parliamentary constituency.
Mr. Hoodas son Deepender is seeking re-election for fourth term from Rohtak as Congress nominee.
Among other candidates, Union minister Birender Singhs son Brijendra Singh (BJP) and former chief minister Bhajan Lals grandson Bhavya Bishnoi (Congress), both political greenhorns, are contesting from the Hisar Lok Sabha seat, whre they face sitting MP and leader of newly floated JJP Dushyant Chautala, grandson of former chief minister, O P Chautala.
Former Union minister Kumari Selja and state Congress chief Ashok Tanwar are fighting from Ambala and Sirsa, respectively, for the party.
Maoist hotbed in West Bengal
The ruling Trinamool Congress, the BJP, the Congress and the Left Front constituents the CPI(M), the CPI and the AIFB are the main contenders in West Bengal. In this phase, polling will be held in Jangal Mahal the forested region of Bankura, West Midnapore, Jhargram and Purulia districts, which used to be a Maoist hotbed, during the erstwhile Left Front government.
In Jharkhand, state minister Chandraprakash Choudhary, former cricketer Kirti Azad and ex-chief minister Madhu Kodas wife Gita are among the 67 candidates whose fate will be sealed in the third phase of polls in the state.
Polling will be held in Dhanbad, Giridih, Jamshedpur and Singhbhum (ST) seats, all won by the BJP in 2014.
Altogether, 66,85,401 voters, including 31,79,720 women and 116 of the third gender, are eligible to exercise their franchise.
Four sitting MPs, including Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, are among the 127 candidates contesting in Bihar.
Amid tight security, polling will be held in eight Lok Sabha seats Sheohar, Valmiki Nagar, Pashchimi Champaran, Purvi Champaran, Siwan, Gopalganj, Maharajganj and Vaishali.