LS polls Phase 2: Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor in fray; Hema Malini, Om Birla seek hat-trick of wins

89 seats spanning across Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Manipur, Tripura and Jammu and Kashmir will go to the polls.
Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor, Hema Malini, Om Birla.
Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor, Hema Malini, Om Birla.

NEW DELHI: Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Shashi Tharoor, and actor-turned-politician Arun Govil are among the key candidates in the fray for the second phase of the Lok Sabha polls with BJP's Hema Malini, Om Birla and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat seeking a hat-trick of wins from their respective constituencies.

Staggered over seven stages, the first phase of the elections held last Friday for 102 seats across 21 states and Union territories saw a voter turnout of around 65.5 per cent.

In the second phase of Lok Sabha polls on Friday, polling is scheduled in all 20 seats of Kerala, 14 of the 28 seats in Karnataka, 13 seats in Rajasthan, eight seats each in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, seven in Madhya Pradesh, five each in Assam and Bihar, three seats each in Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, and one seat each in Manipur, Tripura and Jammu and Kashmir.

Gandhi is the sitting MP from Wayanad in Kerala and is seeking re-election. He is pitted against CPI's Annie Raja and BJP's K Surendran.

Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor, Hema Malini, Om Birla.
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In the 2019 election, Gandhi secured victory by a substantial margin of more than 7 lakh votes against his closest rival, CPI's P P Suneer.

Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor is hoping to retain the Thiruvananthapuram seat for the fourth time.

He is pitted against Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar from the BJP and CPI's Pannyan Raveendran.

Malini, who has represented the Mathura constituency since 2014, is contesting against Congress' Mukesh Dhangar while Om Birla, a two-time MP from Kota, is facing Prahlad Gunjal from the Congress party.

Union minister Shekhawat is eyeing a third win from the Jodhpur seat while Congress candidate Karan Singh Uchiyarda would look to put a spanner in the works of the BJP candidate.

Tejasvi Surya, the sitting MP for Bangalore South and the national president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), will face Congress' Sowmya Reddy.

Former chief minister of Chhattisgarh and Congress leader Bhupesh Baghel is contesting from Rajnandgaon, a stronghold of the BJP for over 30 years.

Baghel is pitted against BJP's Santosh Pandey, who won the 2019 Lok Sabha elections succeeding Abhishek Singh, the son of former Chief Minister Raman Singh, also from the BJP.

Replacing three-time MP Rajendra Agarwal, who has been holding the Meerut seat since 2004, Arun Govil, famous for portraying Lord Ram's character in Ramayan TV series, is making his electoral debut against BSP's Devvrat Kumar Tyagi and SP's Sunita Verma.

In Madhya Pradesh, BJP leader Virendra Kumar Khatik is eyeing a fourth win from Tikamgarh.

The Congress has fielded a new face, Pankaj Ahirwar, from the constituency.

In 2019, Khatik defeated Congress' Kiran Ahirwar by a margin of over 3.48 lakh votes.

The contest for the Alappuzha seat in Kerala has turned into a prestige battle for the Congress with All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary K C Venugopal's return to the Lok Sabha poll fray after 2014 as the party looks to wrest the only seat it lost to the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) in its landslide 19-1 victory in Kerala in the 2019 polls.

Venugopal has not lost any major election in his career.

He won the Alappuzha Assembly seat thrice in a row in 1996, 2001, and 2006 and was elected to the Lok Sabha from Alappuzha in 2009 and 2014.

In 2019, he did not contest after the party elevated him to the post of the AICC general secretary.

Actor-turned-politician Suresh Gopi is also in the fray from Thrissur against K Muraleedharan of Congress and VS Sunil Kumar of CPI(M).

Sukanta Majumdar, incumbent BJP MP from Balurghat in West Bengal is seeking re-election.

He is pitted against Biplab Mitra of the Trinamool Congress and Joydeb Siddhanta of the Revolutionary Socialist Party.

Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor, Hema Malini, Om Birla.
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