Rahul ,Sonia, Rajnath’s fate to be decided today

Voters queuing up to cast their votes at a polling booth in Hajo

The fate of Rahul, Sonia Gandhi, Rajnath Singh   will be  decided today as 51 seats  across seven states will go to vote in the  fifth of seven phase poll of General election.

Although number is less, but this is crucial for the BJP as they won 40 of the seats in 2014 and is under pressure to do better. With this round, election will be over in 424 seats, polling in the remaining 118 seats will be held on May 12 and 19. Counting of votes will be held on May 23.

Among the seven states are – 14 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 12 in Rajasthan, seven seats each in West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, five in Bihar and four in Jharkhand. In Jammu and Kashmir, polling will take place in Ladakh constituency, Pulwama and Shopian districts of Anantnag seat.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi is seeking re-election for a fourth consecutive term Amethi  where he is facing a tough fight  from BJP’s Smriti Irani, who, despite her defeat from the seat in 2014, has frequently visited the area. Irani claimed that the prospect of defeat from Amethi has pushed Mr. Gandhi to contest from Kerala’s Wayanad.

Rahul Gandhi’s mother, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, is seeking a fourth term from neighbouring Raebareli. She has been holding the seat after vacating Amethi for Rahul Gandhi in 2004. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is seeking re-election from Lucknow.

The stakes for  BJP is very high as they had bagged 12 of the 14 seats going to polls in Uttar Pradesh. Amethi and Raebareli were the only two seats the Congress won in the state in 2014. This time, the Mayawati-Akhilesh Yadav alliance had not fielded any candidate there as a gesture of courtesy, even though they kept the Congress out of the alliance.

In West Bengal, the seven Lok Sabha constituencies spread across three districts will go to poll and it is a four-cornered contest between the Trinamool Congress, BJP, Congress and the CPI(M). The Trinamool had won all the seven seats in 2014.

The Bangaon Lok Sabha seat will witness an interesting battle between sitting MP Mamata Bala Thakur of the Trinamool and her nephew Shantanu Thakur of the BJP. They hail from the numerically strong Matua community, which both parties are trying to woo.

Of the five seats in Bihar, Hajipur and Saran are considered pocket boroughs of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) of Ram Vilas Paswan and the RJD of Lalu Prasad respectively. The other three constituencies are Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi and Madhubani.

Both Paswan, a Union minister, and Prasad, serving jail term in fodder scam cases, are not in the fray, but their parties are making all-out efforts to retain their influence.

This will be the second phase of polling in Madhya Pradesh, the first phase having been held on April 29. These seven constituencies – Tikamgarh, Damoh, Khajuraho, Satna, Rewa, Hoshangabad and Betul – were won by the BJP in 2014.

The Congress, which came to power in the state in December last year after 15 years, hopes to carry forward the winning momentum while the BJP hopes to repeat its 2014 showing. In the four Maoist-hit seats of Jharkhand — Hazaribagh, Koderma, Ranchi and Khunti — polling will end at 4 pm due to security concerns. Union Minister Jayant Sinha is seeking re-election from  Hazaribag and former chief minister and BJP candidate Arjun Munda is contesting from the Khunti constituency

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