NEW DELHI: A vitriol-filled campaign ended Friday for the sixth and penultimate phase of Lok Sabha polls to be held in 59 constituencies in six states and Delhi with barbs flying thick and fast as leaders made every effort to sway voters in their favour.
On Sunday, elections will be held in 14 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 10 seats in Haryana, eights constituencies each in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, seven seats in Delhi and four in Jharkhand. In 2014, the BJP had won 45 of these seats, the Trinamool Congress 8, the Congress two and the Samajwadi Party and the LJP one seat each among others.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi once again led the BJP's campaign holding several rallies and stepping up his attack on Opposition parties, particularly the Congress. BJP chief Amit Shah, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and a host of Union ministers among others canvassed for their party candidates in the past few days, undertaking whirlwind tours of constituencies.
Microphones fell silent and weeks of high-octane poll campaigning by parties came to end on Friday evening in the national capital as the 48-hour silence period kicked in from 6 pm ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
All seven parliamentary constituencies in Delhi will go to polls on Sunday. As many as 164 candidates are in fray in the polls, which are largely been seen as a three-way contest among the BJP, Congress and AAP.
Prominent candidates in the contest include, veteran Congress leader Sheila Dikshit, Olympian boxer Vijender Singh, Union minister Harsh Vardhan, cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir and Atishi from AAP.
In Uttar Pradesh, the candidates whose electoral fate will be decided include SP president Akhilesh Yadav and Union minister Maneka Gandhi. Of the 14 constituencies going to polls in the state, the BJP had won 13 in 2014 with Azamgarh being the only exception from where SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav had been victorious.
In Haryana, Union ministers Krishan Pal Gurjar and Rao Inderjit Singh are seeking re-election while former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is once again entering the race to the lower house. The high-voltage electioneering saw a galaxy of leaders from the ruling BJP and Congress campaign for their respective parties in Haryana.
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Modi and Amit Shah also campaigned in the state on Friday, with the prime minister addressing a rally in Rohtak, considered as stronghold of the Hooda family, where he raked up the 1984 anti-Sikh riots issue.
Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal campaigned for the Jannayak Janata Party-AAP alliance candidates while BSP supremo Mayawati sought votes for her party and its ally Loktantra Suraksha Party.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had contested in eight seats and won seven while the saffron party's then ally HJC had fought two bit losing both and INLD winning two seats and Congress one. The Congress has re-nominated its sitting MP from Rohtak, Deepender Singh Hooda, son of Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
Hectic electioneering also came to an end in West Bengal. The polls in this phase will cover 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 regime.
Seats where elections will be held on Sunday are Tamluk, Kanthi, Ghatal, Jhargram (ST), Medinipur, Purulia, Bankura and Bishnupur (SC), where an electorate of 1,33,69,749 will decide the fate of 83 candidates. All these seats were won by the TMC in 2014.
Curtains also came down on campaigning for the third phase of polling in four Lok Sabha seats of Jharkhand. A total 66,85,401 voters of Giridih, Dhanbad, Jamshedpur and Singhbhum (ST) constituencies are eligible to decide the fate of 67 candidates in Sunday's election.
The JMM and the Congress are part of the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) in Jharkhand. Polling for the first two phases in the state were held on April 29 and May 6. The last phase will be conducted on May 19. Eight seats in Bihar will go to polls on Sunday. All of these were won by the NDA in 2014.
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While Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP holds the Vaishali seat, the remaining were won by the BJP, which has given up Valmiki Nagar and Siwan in favour of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U) and fielded its sitting MPs from their respective seats. Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh is in the fray. He is serving his fifth term as the MP from Purvi Champaran, earlier known as Motihari.
A high-voltage campaign for the eight Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh, which includes Bhopal constituency where senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh is locked in a battle with BJP nominee and Malegaon blast accused Pragya Singh Thakur, also came to an end Friday evening.
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.
While seven of these seats were won by the BJP in 2014, the Guna constituency was won by the Congress. Guna, one of the high-profile seats in this phase, would seal the fate of AICC general secretary and Congress candidate Jyotiraditya Scindia. Union minister and BJP nominee Narendra Singh Tomar is in the fray from Morena.