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Several states to witness multi-cornered contests

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IANS New Delhi
Several states will witness multi-cornered contests in the coming Lok Sabha elections with the BJP expected to gain in some seats due to lack of opposition unity and fragmentation of votes against it. Incumbent parties could also gain on some seats due to fragmentation of votes.
Several states including Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Jammu and Kashmir will witness triangular or multi-cornered contests.
In Uttar Pradesh, where Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal have formed an alliance, the Congress is keen to put up a serious fight and has brought in Priyanaka Gandhi Vadra as a star campaigner.
Though Congress is expected to draw some upper caste votes of the BJP, it will also divide opposition votes and attract some of those who have already made up their mind to replace the ruling party at the Centre.
The Congress has good candidates on some seats who had put credible performance when the BJP swept the state in 2014 by winning 73 of 80 seats with its allies.
The BJP had gained in the last parliamentary polls in the state as opposition votes were split between the Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party and Congress.
Analysts said that BJP will gain if opposition votes split. They said that several opposition parties have similar vote base and a division in vote share causes problems. The BJP had polled around 31 per cent of vote in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and got full majority.
The analysts also said that electoral scene across states was different and multi-polar contests will play out differently.
In West Bengal, the BJP is keen to emerge as a force to reckon with and has set a target of 23 of 42 Lok Sabha seats. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool, which is leading party of the opposition alliance, has set its eyes on winning all 42 seats. The state will witness a multi-cornered contest with CPI-M and the Congress failing to reach an understanding. While the CPI-M had won two seats in 2014, Congress had won four.
In Haryana, the main contest is likely to be between the BJP and Congress but AAP is also keen to put up a challenge. The Indian National Lok Dal has split into two and the two factions have strongholds in certain pockets of the state.
In Tamil Nadu, both the ruling AIADMK and opposition DMK have formed their alliances but Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) of actor-turned politician Kamal Haasan is challenging them on all the seats.
In Punjab, the main contest is between the ruling Congress and SAD-BJP combine but AAP is also a player and had won four seats in 2014.
The Punjab Democratic Alliance (PDA), which is seeking to emerge as the third alternative in the state, is also fielding candidates on several seats. PDA comprises of Punjab Ekta Party, BSP, Lok Insaaf Party and Punjab Manch.
Andhra Pradesh will also have a multi-cornered contest with Congress and the ruling TDP deciding to go it alone in the state. The TDP is facing a serious challenge from YSRC party with BJP also trying to make its presence felt.
In Odisha, where BJD leader and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has been beating anti-incumbency, the BJP has been gaining strength at the cost of Congress. The Lok Sabha election result will show how far the BJP has been able to penetrate in the state and if it emerges as the main opposition party in the state.
Though there is an understanding between Congress and National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir, the two parties will also go for "friendly fights." The PDP has also put up candidates in the Valley as has People's Conference of separatist-turned-mainstream leader Sajad Lone.
However, the BJP will face tough contest on Jammu and Udhampur seats as PDP, like National Conference, has decided against putting up candidates to prevent division of "secular votes".
--IANS
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First Published: Mar 27 2019 | 9:14 PM IST

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