51 Seats Vote Today, Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi Test: Your 5-Point Guide

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Lakhimpur: National Congress President Rahul Gandhi being welcomed on his arrival for an election campaign rally in Lakhimpur, Assam, Wednesday, April 3, 2019. (PTI Photo) (PTI4_3_2019_000132B)

General Election 2019: As many as 7.32 crore people will decide from 674 candidates, 78 of whom are women, in constituencies stretching across north and east India.

NEW DELHI: The fifth phase of the Lok Sabha election witnesses several high-stake battles between the BJP and opposition parties, with people from 51 Lok Sabha constituencies across seven states casting their votes today to form the next government. The foremost among them is Amethi, where Congress president Rahul Gandhi will try to hold his own against the BJP’s Smriti Irani. Other important candidates in the mix are Rajnath Singh (Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow), Jayant Sinha (Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh), Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (Rajasthan’s Jaipur Rural) and Dinesh Trivedi (West Bengal’s Barrackpore). The votes will be counted on May 23.

Here is your 5-point guide to what is at stake in Phase 5 of 2019 Lok Sabha Polls:

1 : In Phase 5 of the Lok Sabha elections, voting is taking place across Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. As many as 7.32 crore people will decide from 674 candidates, 78 of whom are women, in constituencies stretching across north and east India. Campaigning for this phase of the elections ended on Saturday evening.

2 : The biggest test will arguably be for Rahul Gandhi, who will need to prove that Amethi remains a Congress stronghold despite intense attacks from Smriti Irani. Although the opposition “mahagathbandhan” or “grand alliance” in Uttar Pradesh excluded the Congress from the grouping, it has opted against fielding candidates from Amethi and Raebareli (where Sonia Gandhi is contesting) to prevent fragmentation of non-BJP votes. Rahul Gandhi had defeated Ms Irani by over one lakh votes in the 2014 elections despite an overall decline in voting percentage.

3 : In the other 12 seats of Uttar Pradesh, the coalition of the Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal is expected to pose a tough challenge for the BJP. Even if the ruling party gets the same number of votes it did in the 2014 elections, it will still lag behind the grand alliance in Bahraich, Mohanlalganj, Sitapur, Kaisarganj, Kaushambhi, Banda and Dhaurahra.

4 : According to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), 184 of the candidates contesting the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections have declared assets of Rs. 1 crore or above. The pro-transparency body identified the Samajwadi Party’s Poonam Sinha as the richest of the lot with assets worth Rs. 193 crore and Pragatishil Samajwadi Party (Lohia) candidate Vijay Kumar Mishra coming second with Rs. 177 crore.

5 : Following accusations of bias against the Bengal police, the Election Commission has announced that only central security personnel will oversee the voting process in the state in the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections. The state police will not be allowed within 100 metres of the booths. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has, however, accused central security forces of forcing people to vote for the BJP.

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