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The stakes are high as the NDA aims to form a government for a second consecutive term, while the Congress and other opposition parties hope to gain ground.
The Lok Sabha polls are crucial for the ruling BJP because it could create history by returning to power with a majority for a consecutive term
The Election Commission of India is set to announce the results for the 17th Lok Sabha elections on Thursday. The stakes are high as the NDA aims to form a government for a second consecutive term, while the Congress and other opposition parties hope to gain ground. Mint takes a look at what’s at stake, the key contests and battleground states.
BJP – The Lok Sabha polls are crucial for the ruling BJP because it could create history by returning to power with a majority for a consecutive term. Congress is the only party in the country that has done so. The elections will also decide the fate of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and members of the NDA.
Congress – After the worst ever performance in the 2014 general elections, the Congress is trying to revive itself. It is also a test for Congress president Rahul Gandhi who is leading the party for the first time in a general election. The mandate of the people will also decide the fate of the direct contest between the Congress and the BJP. It will also test alliances formed by opposition parties against the NDA.
Regional Parties – The run-up to the election results has seen regional parties play a key role. Their attempts to stitch together a pan-India alliance failed, but states such as the SP-BSP have come together to take on the BJP. Odisha and West Bengal faced a new challenger this time as the BJP began making inroads in these states. In the southern states, N. Chandrababu Naidu of the TDP has been meeting leaders to bring together opposition parties. This election has also seen leaders such as M.K. Stalin and K. Chandrashekhar Rao in Tamil Nadu and Telangana play an active role.
1. Varanasi (UP) – The seat from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is contesting election to seek a second consecutive term.
2. Amethi (UP) – Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who is also contesting from Wayanad in Kerala, faces tough competition as he takes on Union minister Smriti Irani.
3. Bhopal (MP)-- BJP nominee and terror-accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur faces veteran Congress leader Digvijay Singh.
4. Indore (MP) -- A BJP bastion, where it did not nominate Lok Sabha Speaker and six-time MP Sumitra Mahajan, and instead fielded Shankar Lalwani against Pankaj Sanghvi of the Congress.
5. Nagpur (Maharashtra) -- BJP stalwart Nitin Gadkari is contesting against Congress nominee and former BJP MP Nana Patole.
6. Arunachal West -- One of the two constituencies in Arunachal Pradesh, has sitting MP and Union minister Kiren Rijiju contesting for a second time.
7. Gandhinagar (Gujarat) – BJP chief Amit Shah is contesting from this seat, which was previously represented by senior BJP leader L.K. Advani.
8.Malkajgiri (Telangana) -- Congress leader A. Revanth Reddy is contesting from this seat, which has about 32 lakh voters and is considered to be a ‘mini India’, as it has a mix of locals, non-locals and army personnel as residents.
9.Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) -- Senior Congress leader and sitting MP Shashi Tharoor is contesting against former Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan of the BJP.
The state that accounts for the largest number of seats in the Lok Sabha, 80, holds the key for the NDA which won the state by a brute majority in the 2014 general elections and the Assembly elections in 2017. This election, there is a three-cornered contest between the NDA, the SP–BSP alliance and the Congress.
It is one of the Hindi heartland states where there is a straight contest between the BJP and the Congress. In 2014, the BJP nearly swept the state winning 27 of 29 Lok Sabha seats. But it lost narrowly to the Congress in the 2018 Assembly polls. It has become a prestige battle for the BJP and Congress.
The state that has been a bastion of the Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) for the past two decades is facing competition this election with the BJP making inroads in the state. Elections to the Assembly were held along with polls for the 21 Lok Sabha seats.
This election in West Bengal has seen the Trinamool Congress led by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee pull out all stops to ensure that the BJP does not make a mark in the state. West Bengal shot into the limelight last week when violence erupted between supporters of the two parties, following which the Election Commission curtailed campaigning.
It sends the second-largest contingent of MPs to the Lok Sabha after Uttar Pradesh, 48. In 2014, the BJP-led NDA won a whopping 42 seats. The elections will determine how much of heft NCP chief Sharad Pawar has.
The Congress wanted to make its coalition with the JD(S) one of the foundation stones for stitching up similar alliances across the country to take on the NDA. However, it has since struggled to keep the alliance together, giving BJP the advantage. The model of giving up the top post to a smaller partner could lead to similar demands from other post-poll allies if the grand alliance can muster up numbers to form the next government at the center. The BJP hopes to bring down the state government to help the party make inroads into Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
The BJP is trying to use the AIADMK to get a foothold in Tamil Nadu while the Congress is trying to regain lost ground by allying with the DMK. This would also be the first time in decades that the state will head to the polls without J. Jayalalitha and M. Karunanidhi to steer their respective parties. The political vacuum has given both the BJP and the Congress a chance to enter the state.
The NDA had won three-fourths of the Lok Sabha seats in 2014 but was defeated in the Assembly elections. While the BJP is back in power in the state again, Bihar is seeing a united opposition take on the NDA in the absence of Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad during the campaign.
With 17 Lok Sabha seats, Telangana might not be strong in terms of numbers. However, chief minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K. Chandrashekhar Rao, who is expected to win 12-13 seats according to the exit polls, might play a crucial role if the NDA falls just short of a majority.
Whoever wins a majority of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh might end up having a bigger say in national politics this time. Chandrababu Naidu will emerge stronger on the national scene if he can win 15 or more seats this time. However, main opposition leader Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party, which exit polls predict will do well, might steal Naidu’s thunder and play a greater role in Delhi.
Kerala is at a crossroads. For the BJP, at its highest point of success over Sabarimala, Kerala is important to ride the wave of Hindu nationalism into one of the most secular states. It hopes to win its first seat ever in Thiruvananthapuram. For the Congress and the CPM, both at its lowest ebb in history, a shrink in seats in Kerala would be an existential crisis. After ruling Karnataka, Kerala is the only state where Congress has some clout in the south and the party has fielded none less than Rahul Gandhi in one seat, Wayanad. For the CPM, Kerala is the only ruling state.
In an almost presidential-style campaign, the BJP fought this election on the personal popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During the election, Modi had an intensive campaigning schedule, holding public meetings across various states.
A key factor in this election is the government’s performance on direct benefit transfers targeting different sections of the society through various schemes including Ujjwala, fertilizers for farmers, public distribution system, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and a number of scholarships.
Opposition parties, especially in key states like Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, are split in a three-cornered contest. After having failed to bridge together alliances, opposition parties are split into these states which analysts believe may give an advantage to the BJP which is the main opponent in these states. The NDA cornered the Congress over statements by their leaders on various issues including the 1984 riots.
The Pulwama attacks followed by the Balakot strike just before the election have led to national security becoming a key factor in this election. Both the NDA and the opposition parties have used the issue in their campaigns.
In 2014, a key promise of the NDA government was increasing the number of jobs. Five years later, the demand for jobs continues to be an important issue. Along with jobs, rural distress also dominated the election campaign. While the Congress has announced that it will come up with a minimum income guarantee scheme, NYAY, the NDA has laid its bets on the PM-Kisan scheme.
VOTER HELPLINE APP: Aking forward its continuous efforts of building an active democratic citizenry in the country, Election Commission of India has undertaken a new initiative by designing a Mobile Application for developing a culture of avid electoral engagement and making informed and ethical ballot decisions among citizens of the country. The app aims to provide a single point of service and information delivery to voters across the country. The app provides following facilities to Indian voters:
A. Electoral Search (#GoVerify your name in the electoral roll)
B. Submission of online forms for New Voter Registration, shifting to a different
The constituency, for Overseas Voters, Deletion or Objection in the electoral roll, correction of entries & Transposition within Assembly.
C. Register Complaints related to Electoral Services and track its disposal status
D. The FAQ on Voter, Elections, EVM, & Results
E. Service & Resources for Voters & Electoral Officers
F: Find the Election Schedule in your area
G: Find all the candidates, their profile, Income Statement, assets, criminal cases
H: Find the Polling Officials and call them: BLO, ERO, DEO and CEO
I: Click a selfie after Voting and get a chance to be featured in the Official Voter Helpline App Gallery.
J: Download the list of Contesting candidates in PDF format and take the print out.