What to Watch out For
Second round of Lok Sabha polls begins today: Here’s why phase 2 is a high-octane south battle
The second phase of the Lok Sabha polls today will see voters in 95 constituencies across 11 states exercise their franchise to decide the electoral fortunes of 1600-odd candidates.
Among those in the fray for Round 2 of the polls are Union ministers Jitendra Singh, Jual Oram, Sadananda Gowda and Pon Radhakrishnan, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, Odisha, former ministers Dayanidhi Maran and A Raja, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik and DMK leader Kanimozhi.
Polling is being held across 39 seats in Tamil Nadu, 14 seats in Karnataka, 10 in Maharashtra, eight in Uttar Pradesh, five seats each in Odisha, Bihar and Assam, two in Jammu and Kashmir and one seat each in Manipur and Puducherry.
Fate in fray: The bye-elections on the 18 assembly seats in Tamil Nadu which are taking place alongside the Lok Sabha polling, will decide the fate of the E Palanaswami- O Panneerselvam government. With 22 vacant positions in the 234-member strong Assembly, 18 of them due to disqualification of rebel lawmakers who joined TTV Dhinakaran’s party, the AIADMK needs five seats to stay clinch a majority.
Among the keenly watched battles in the state will be the one between Kanimozhi and Tamil Nadu BJP chief Tamilisai Soundararajan for the Thoothukudi Lok Sabha seat. This time’s contest is happening in the shadow of multiple raids involving, what the Income Tax and Election Commission authorities called cash-for-vote scam. The raids sparked a massive controversy as they only targeted opposition leaders and parties, including Kanimozhi and TTV Dhinakaran’s Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK).
Alliance woes: In Karnataka, the battles in Mandya and Mysuru will be among the most keenly watched due to the contentions between alliance partners – Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular).
In Mandya, on one side is Congress-JD(S) combine’s candidate Nikhil Kumaraswamy, the son of present chief minister HD Kumaraswamy. He will face Sumalatha Ambareesh, the wife of late superstar Ambareesh, who is said to have the support of several disgruntled Congress leaders who are angry with their party for not having given her a ticket.
Mysuru is another aching thorn in Congress-JD(S) alliance as the senior Congress leader and former CM Siddaramaiah is said to have fought to have his own man bag the ticket in what is essentially his home district. Both Mysuru and Mandya have a strong presence of Vokkaliggas who are considered voters of the JD(S), which is why the regional heavyweight tried to bag both seats.
What are the chances: As Odisha witnesses an unprecedented four-phased election this time, stakes are the highest for the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Round 2.
The BJD chief and four-time chief minister Naveen Patnaik is seeking a fifth term in office, contesting for the first time from Bijepur in western Odisha in addition to his traditional coastal constituency of Hinjli. Both these seats, and Patnaik’s future as one of the tallest political leaders of the state, will be on the line in the second phase. Read Fazil Khan’s analysis of how he is likely to fare.
What You May Have Missed
20,000 jobs at stake as Jet Airways grounds flights after lenders refuse Rs 400 crore lifeline
Cash-strapped Jet Airways has cancelled all its domestic and international flights with immediate effect after lenders rejected the airline’s request for an emergency fund infusion of Rs 400 crore. The airline in its statement said that they “will keep supporting the bid process initiated by lenders”, although “the sale process may take some time”. The lenders have shortlisted four candidates, including the Etihad, in the bidding process. Teetering for over four months due to cash-drought, the 25-year-old airline had been saddled with roughly Rs 8,000 crore of bank debt. The temporary grounding of operations has put at stake 20,000 jobs and thousands of crores in passenger refunds, dues to vendors and over Rs 8,500 crore to banks.
News18 Election Tracker: BJP’s surprising choice for Bhopal, Yogi faces backlash from Twitter and INLD’s list of candidates
It's Sadhvi Pragya vs Digvijaya Singh as BJP picks Malegaon blast accused for Bhopal battle
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday picked up Malegaon Blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur to fight the polls against Congress’ Digvijaya Singh from Bhopal. Thakur had joined the saffron party on Wednesday morning. Sources said she became the favourite for the ticket from Bhopal, a saffron citadel since 1989, after BJP seniors Narendra Singh Tomar, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Uma Bharti showed disinterest in the contest. The choice is likely to make ‘Hindu terror’ a key flashpoint in the election as Thakur is a key accused in the 2008 blast, in which six people were killed and over 100 injured.
Twitter deletes Adityanath's 'green virus' tweet on EC notice
After severe backlash and a notice from the Election Commission, Twitter on Wednesday removed Uttar Pradesh CM Yogo Adityanath’s controversial tweet in which he termed the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) as a “green virus”. The move, which was enacted in line with the Election Commission directions, comes just two a few days after the poll watchdog’s ban barring the BJP leader from campaigning for 72 hours. Yogi had also made the comment during a rally in Meerut on April 9, to rebuke the long-term supporter of the Indian National Congress in Kerala, expressing their support for Congress chief Rahul Gandhi during his nomination filing in Wayanad.
INLD announces 6 candidates for Haryana, retains Sirsa MP Charanjit Singh Rori
The Indian National Lok Dal on Wednesday announced its candidates on six of the 10 Lok Sabha constituencies in Haryana. Barring lone sitting MP from Sirsa, Charanjit Singh Rori, the party has chosen to go with new candidates. The INLD has fielded Rampal Valmiki from Ambala, Dharamvir Pada from Karnal, Surender Chikara from Sonepat; Suresh Kauth from Hisar; and, Mahender Singh Chauhan from Faridabad. In the press conference held in Chandigarh, Senior party leader Abhay Chautala also announced that the names of the remaining candidates for Gurugram, Kurukshetra, Rohtak and Bhiwani-Mahendragarh seats will be disclosed following a consultation with Om Prakash Chautala.
Peru's ex-President dies after shooting himself in the head before arrest in corruption case
Peru’s former president Alan Garcia died in a hospital in Lima on Wednesday, hours after shooting himself in the head to avoid arrest in connection with a bribery probe. Garcia had been one of nine people a judge had ordered to be arrested on Wednesday for alleged involvement in bribes distributed by Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company that triggered Latin America’s biggest graft scandal in 2016. A skilled orator elected president twice, first as a firebrand leftist and then as a champion of foreign investment and free trade, Garcia had repeatedly denied the allegations of corruption.
The fate of 1629 candidates is at stake in this phase. What are the key constituencies and candidates to watch out for in this phase? Here’s everything you need to know.