Voting is underway in 89 Lok Sabha constituencies in round seven of the national election that ends on May 12. Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi, L K Advani, Rajnath Singh, M M Joshi, Arun Jaitley, Captain Amarinder Singh, K Chandrashekhara Rao and Farooq Abdullah among those whose fate will be sealed today.
Here's a quick look at the top ten contests:
1) Gujarat has a maximum of 334 candidates contesting for its 26 parliamentary seats. Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is contesting from Vadodara. The BJP mascot is facing Congress's Madhusudan Mistri. The battle in Vadodara is interesting because of the state being Modi's home turf. He has consistently invoked the idea that he is the 'son of the soil'. The Gujarat chief Minister is also contesting from Varanasi which will vote on May 12.
2) In Gandhinagar, veteran BJP leader LK Advani is locked in a contest with Congress's Kiritbhai Ishvarbhai Patel. Advani's decision to contest from Gandhinagar was in controversy after he expressed the desire to contest from Bhopal and was later convinced by senior BJP leaders to stick to Gandhinagar. The BJP leader has been the sitting Gandhinagar MP since 1999. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has pitted Rituraj Mehta from this constituency.
In Ahmedabad East, Bollywood actor and BJP candidate Paresh Rawal is pitted against
Congress's Himmat Singh Patel.
Former Gujarat Chief Minister and the leader of opposition in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly Shankarsinh Vaghela is contesting from Sabarkantha seat. His main rival is BJP's Dipsinh Rathod.
3) BJP president Rajnath Singh is contesting from Lucknow, a seat that has been represented in the past by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Singh’s biggest worry is his rival from the Congress, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna’s daughter, who seems to be attracting the Brahmins. Lucknow has sent non-Brahmins to the Lok Sabha only three times in the last 63 years. In 2009, she rallied to secure a second spot in Lucknow losing out by only 40,000 votes to the BJP's Lalji Tandon.
4) Kanpur is witnessing ‘local versus outsider’ contest as sitting Congress MP and Union Minister for Coal Sri Prakash Jaiswal faces senior BJP leader and former MP from Varanasi, Murli Manohar Joshi. The BJP veteran is banking on the ‘anti-Congress and pro-Modi waves” to dislodge him.
Senior BJP leader Uma Bharti is contesting from Jhansi. Union minister Jitin Prasada is seeking re-election from Dhauhrahra.
5) Amritsar poll fight has become a clash of titans, featuring Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and BJP candidate Arun Jaitley against former Punjab Chief Minister and state Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh. Traditionally a Congress stronghold, Amritsar has backed BJP's Navjot Singh Sidhu since 2004.
In Gurdaspur, incumbent MP Pratap Singh Bajwa is being pitted against three-time BJP MP and actor Vinod Khanna.
6) In Uttar Pradesh, a keenly watched contest is in Rae Bareli where Congress president Sonia Gandhi is seeking her third consecutive term. She is pitted against Ajay Agarwal of the BJP, Pravesh Singh of the Bahujan Samaj Party and Archana Srivastava of the AAP. Sonia is a three-time MP from Rae Bareli, including the by-election in 2006, after she resigned over the office of profit issue. In the 2004 elections she shifted to Rae Bareli from Amethi, leaving it to Rahul Gandhi.
7) Retaining Srinagar seat is a tough call for National Conference patron and thrice Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah. The constituency has been represented in the past by Abdullah's mother, Begum Akbar Jahan. His son and state Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah has represented Srinagar in the Lok Sabha thrice. There are 14 candidates in fray in this Lok Sabha constituency, but the main fight is between Farooq Abdullah and Tariq Hamid Karra of the regional People's Democratic Party (PDP)
8) In Madhepura (Bihar), Janata Dal (United) chief Sharad Yadav is facing a tough contest from controversial former MP Pappu Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal. Sharad Yadav is seeking re-election with full support of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in this Yadav dominated constituency. RJD supremo Lalu Prasad is not contesting polls after he was convicted in multi-crore fodder scam.
9) As Telangana will formally become a separate state on June 2, the Election Commission is holding the polls in undivided Andhra Pradesh, which is now under President's rule.Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrasekhar Rao is contesting from Medak Lok Sabha seat and Gajwel assembly seat. The TRS president represented Mahabubnagar in the outgoing Lok Sabha, but chose to contest from Medak, his native district, this time. His daughter K Kavitha is making her electoral debut from Nizamabad Lok Sabha seat.
K Chandrashekhar Rao
Veteran Congress leader and Union Science and Technology Minister S Jaipal Reddy is trying his luck for a sixth term in the Lok Sabha from Mahbubnagar. The senior Congress leader had won in 2009 from Chelvella.
The MIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi is seeking a third straight term from Hyderabad.
10) In West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress and the main opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist are the main contenders in the electoral battle. The BJP has, meanwhile, fielded celebrities like famed music composer Bappi Lahiri from Sreerampur, Bengali actor George Baker from Howrah and journalist-turned-party spokesperson Chandan Mitra from Hooghly.
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