Phase VI: The big names and contests
The sixth phase of the general elections on Sunday will have 59 Lok Sabha constituencies going to polls in seven states. From a terror case accused, to former chief ministers to intense battles in the national capital, this phase will see bigwigs in contest. Sheila Dikshit, Maneka Gandhi, Digvijaya Singh and Akhilesh Yadav are some of the top leaders contesting in this round.
- The contest: Digvijaya Singh (Congress) vs Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur (BJP)
Seat: Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
Interest quotient: The entry of terror case accused Pragya has made Bhopal a much-watched contest. The BJP has won the constituency eight times since 1989. Pragya's statement on police officer Hemant Karkare and on the Babri Masjid demolition have made this a contest of who is more Hindu - the self-proclaimed sadhvi or Digvijaya.
- The contest: Bhupinder Singh Hooda (Congress) vs Ramesh Chander Kaushik (BJP) vs Digvijay Chautala (Jannayak Janta Party)
Seat: Sonipat, Haryana
Interest quotient: Hooda, a two-time chief minister of Haryana, has won Rohtak four times, a seat which was taken over by his son Deepender who won it thrice. The problem, however, isn’t Kaushik, but Om Prakash Chautala’s grandson and Jannayak Janta Party’s candidate Digvijay Chautala. Both Hooda and Chautala are Jats and a division in the Jat votes will benefit the BJP.
- The contest: Deepender Singh Hooda (Congress) vs Arvind Kumar Sharma (BJP)
Seat: Rohtak, Haryana
Interest quotient: The Hoodas face another tough fight in Rohtak. The Congress has won the seat 11 times since 1952 and nine times a Hooda has been elected from the constituency. In this seat too, JJP might split the votes. Rohtak has never gone to the BJP and whether or not things change remains to be seen.
- The contest: Radha Mohan Singh (BJP) vs Aakash Kumar Singh (Rashtriya Lok Samta Party)
Seat: Purvi Champaran, Bihar
Interest quotient: The five-time BJP MP from East Champaran and Union agriculture minister might face a tough battle as a chunk of Bhumihar votes - considered to be BJP vote bank - may go to RLSP candidate Aakash, who is also a face of the alliance. He also seems to benefit from votes of Khushwahas, Muslims, Yadavs and Dalits.
- The contest: Ramesh Bidhuri (BJP) vs Raghav Chadha (AAP) vs Vijender Singh (Congress)
Seat: South Delhi
Interest quotient: BJP MP Bidhuri could face a tough contest from AAP’s youngest candidate Chadha who is fighting on the plank of local development. The Congress has fielded boxer Vijender Singh in the three-corner contest.
- The contest: Maneka Sanjay Gandhi (BJP) vs Chandra Bhadra Singh alias Sonu (BSP)
Seat: Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh
Interest quotient: Sultanpur has been in the news for statements made by Maneka and her son Varun. Maneka had warned Muslims that if she did not get their vote, it would make her bitter. It earned her a 48-hour campaign ban from the Election Commission. Varun had said he is Sanjay Gandhi’s son and people like Monu-Tonu untie his shoelaces. His hint was perhaps towards Maneka's rival Sonu, who is likely to benefit from the SP-BSP vote consolidation.
- The contest: Manoj Tiwari (BJP) vs Sheila Dikshit (Congress)
Seat: North East Delhi
Interest quotient: It is one of the most interesting contests in Delhi where the voters have to choose between the longest serving chief minister and the BJP state chief who won the seat last time. Dikshit will have to beeat the sway of Bhojpuri identity over the Purvanchali-dominated constituency.
- The contest: Gautam Gambhir (BJP) vs Atishi (AAP)
Seat: East Delhi
Interest quotient: The contest between the BJP and AAP candidates is getting intense by the day. Amid allegations and counter-allegations of dirty politics, Atishi hopes to wrestle the seat from BJP while the former cricketer hopes to ride on the Modi-factor and a vote split between Atishi and Congress leader Arvinder Singh Lovely.
- The contest: Pashupati Nath Singh (BJP) vs Kirti Azad (Congress)
Seat: Dhanbad, Jharkhand
Interest quotient: Former cricketer Azad joined the Congress in February after rebelling against the BJP. The son of veteran Congress leader and former Bihar chief minister Bhagwat Jha Azad, he called it ‘ghar wapsi’. Azad, who is an outsider in the constituency with almost no sway in the coal belts, is up against a strong BJP candidate. Azad has been a three-time MP from Darbhanga, Bihar, winning it for BJP every time.