51 constituencies in 7 states to vote in fifth phase
A total of 51 seats spread across seven states are scheduled to vote in the fifth phase on Monday, with Rae Bareli and Amethi seats in Uttar Pradesh among the most watched contests.
Of the seats going to polls on Monday, 14 are in Uttar Pradesh, 12 in Rajasthan, seven each in West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, five in Bihar, four in Jharkhand and two in Jammu and Kashmir, including Anantnag, where the third and final phase of polling will be held.
In the 2014 elections, the BJP had won 39 of these 51 seats -- all 12 in Rajasthan, 12 of 14 in Uttar Pradesh, all seven in Madhya Pradesh, three of five in Bihar, all four in Jharkhand and one of two in Jammu and Kashmir.
In West Bengal, all seven seats were won by the Trinamool Congress, in Bihar, one was won by BJP ally Lok Janshakti Party and one by then ally Rashtriya Lok Samta Party, and in Jammu and Kashmir, one seat was Peoples Democratic Party.
The Congress had only bagged Amethi and Rae Bareli.
This phase will see voting in many high-profile seats. In Uttar Pradesh, both Rae Bareli and Amethi, which are traditional Congress strongholds, will witness a heated contest between Congress and BJP.
In Rae Bareli, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who has held the seat from 2004, will face former Congress leader Dinesh Pratap Singh of the BJP. In Amethi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi will again face Union Minister Smriti Irani.
Among other prominent candidates in the fray are Union Ministers Rajnath Singh (Lucknow), Jayant Sinha (Hazaribagh) and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (Jaipur Rural).
In Uttar Pradesh, the fifth phase will include most of the seats where the BJP performed credibly in 2014 but face a strong challenge from the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party combine this time.
In Bihar, the political equations have changed from the last Lok Sabha elections. Then the ruling Janata Dal-United was then opposed to the BJP but this time, it is a constituent of the NDA, facing the challenge from its erstwhile ally, the Rashtriya Janata Dal along with the Congress and some smaller parties. IANS