The poll bugle for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections has been sounded. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced its first list of candidates on Thursday, 21 March, naming Prime Minister Narendra Modi as its candidate from Varanasi and party chief Amit Shah as the candidate from Gandhinagar replacing senior leader LK Advani.
The list also named heavyweights like Smriti Irani who is squarely set for a second time battle with Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
But other than Irani and Gandhi, there are many constituencies (across states) which are once gain gearing up for an intense fight between political heavyweights from various parties.
Let’s take a look at the candidates who will be fighting it out to win the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Amethi: Rahul Gandhi vs Smriti Irani
Amethi has been a stronghold of the Congress party for decades. Before Rahul Gandhi, the seat was held by his mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
In 2014 elections, Rahul Gandhi won the elections, but with Irani’s entry, his winning margin was reduced from 3.70 lakh votes in 2009 to 1.07 lakh votes.
Smriti Irani has dubbed the fight between her and Gandhi as a fight between ‘namdaar’ and ‘kaamdar’. She has also accused Gandhi of not addressing the issues of the people of Amethi and instead, using them as a vote bank.
Gandhi, on the other hand, has blamed the Centre for taking away development projects initiated by the UPA government in Amethi.
The seat of Amethi will once again see a fierce battle between Gandhi and Irani, and with SP-BSP out of the picture, it is a direct fight between the two.
Ghaziabad: VK Singh vs Dolly Sharma vs Suresh Bansal
BJP has once again fielded Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs VK Singh as its candidate from Ghaziabad.
In 2014, Singh defeated Congress’ Raj Babbar and won the seat by a margin of over 5 lakh votes. While BJP has once again relied on Singh, the Congress has fielded 33-year-old Dolly Sharma and the SP-BSP have named Suresh Bansal as its candidate.
Sharma entered active politics in 2017 when she contested and lost the urban local body elections for the post of Mayor in Ghaziabad. Her candidature has come as a surprise for many.
Suresh Bansal’s name was announced by SP on Friday, a day after BJP’s first list of candidates was declared. Bansal replaced Surendra Kumar Munni as the Gathbandhan candidate in Ghaziabad.
The seat will see a three-cornered-fight between the BJP, Congress and SP-BSP combined.
Begusarai: Giriraj Singh vs Kanhaiya Kumar
Former JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar will take on BJP’s Giriraj Singh in Bihar’s Begusarai. Kumar, who was left out by the Opposition coalition in Bihar, was declared the CPI’s candidate from the seat on 24 March.
Kumar who hails from Begusarai will be taking on Union Minister Giriraj Singh, who has been moved from his Nawada constituency after the seat went to LJP under the seat-sharing agreement.
Terming Union minister and BJP nominee from Begusarai Giriraj Singh as a “visa minister”, Kumar said, “I am fighting against Giriraj Singh and his fundamentalist thinking.”
Begusarai, known as "little Moscow" or "Leningrad of Bihar", is considered a Left stronghold.
Nagpur: Nitin Gadkari vs Nana Patole
Union minister Nitin Gadkari, who is also the sitting MP from Nagpur, will once again contest from Nagpur. And the battle in Nagpur will be between Gadkari and Congress candidate Nana Patole.
Interestingly, Patole who was a BJP MP from Bhandara-Gondiya constituency quit the BJP to join the Congress in 2018. At the time of quitting, Patole had expressed his unhappiness with the BJP government at the state and centre level.
Gadkari won the seat by a margin of 2.8 lakh votes in 2014 elections. This time, the former BJP MP will fight it out with the current BJP MP to win the seat.
Mumbai North Central: Poonam Mahajan vs Priya Dutt
Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha chief Poonam Mahajan will fight to retain her Mumbai North Central seat against Congress’ Priya Dutt. Mahajan had defeated Dutt in the 2014 elections by a margin of 1.8 lakh votes.
The seat has never picked the same party since 1980, with an exception in 2009 when Dutt won the seat which was previously held by Congress’ Eknath Gaikwad.
Thiruvananthapuram:Shashi Tharoor vs Kummanam Rajasekharan vs C Divakaran
Kerala’s seat of Thiruvananthapuram will be a three-way fight between Congress’ Shashi Tharoor, BJP’s Kummanam Rajasekharan and Left Democratic Front’s C Divakaran.
The seat is current held by Tharoor who defeated BJP’s O Rajagopal by a thin margin of 15,470 votes In 2014 and he will be challenging BJP’s Rajasekharan and LDF’s Divakaran to retain his constituency which could prove to be a close shave for the three contenders.
Rajasekharan’s name has been doing the rounds since earlier this month after he resigned as Mizoram Governor and returned to Kerala for the poll campaigning. He began his career as an activist in the RSS and later became the BJP Kerala President, a post he held till 2018.
Tharoor and Rajasekharan had both opposed the SC verdict allowing women of menstruating age to enter Sabarimala temple.
On the other hand, Divakaran is a three-time legislator. The seat of Thiruvananthapuram will see a close fight between the Congress, BJP and the left front.
Asansol: Babul Supriyo vs Moon Moon Sen
Stars of the film industry, Moon Moon Sen and Babul Supriyo are up against each other in West Bengal’s Asansol.
In 2014, Supriyo defeated TMC’s Dola Sen to win the seat by a margin of 7 lakh votes, while Moon Moon Sen won the Bankura seat in West Bengal.
Interestingly, Supriyo won the Asansol seat and ended the 25-year-old dominion of the Left party on the seat. And Sen won the Bankura seat which had been a CPI(M) stronghold for years. She defeated CPI(M)’s nine-time MP Basudeb Acharia.
Arunachal West: Kiren Rijiju vs Nabam Tuki
Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju will fight against former Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Nabam Tuki.
Tuki was the CM of the state from 2011 to 2016, but his tenure ended following the political crisis in the state which led to President’s rule.
The seat is currently held by Rijiju who defeated Congress’ Takam Sanjoy by a margin of 41,738 votes in 2014.
Tura: Mukul Sangma vs Agatha K Sangma
Congress has fielded former Chief Minister of Meghalaya Mukul Sangma as its candidate from Tura constituency in Meghalaya. Taking on Sangma is National People’s Party’ s Agatha K Sangma.
Agatha Sangma is the younger sister of Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and daughter of former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Sangma who had won the Tura seat in 2014.
She was elected twice to the Lok Sabha from Tura and served as a minister in the UPA-II government.
Tura has been without a Lok Sabha member since last year as Conrad was the sitting member and had resigned after he was elected member of Meghalaya Assembly last year.
Muzaffarnagar: Sanjeev Balyan vs Ajit Singh
BJP’s Sanjeev Balyan will fight RLD chief Ajit Singh in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar, a seat where Jat voters are believed to play the kingmaker. And with both the leaders belonging to the Jat community, it will be an intense fight between the two.
In 2014, Balyan defeated BSP’s Kadir Rana by a margin of over 4 lakh votes.
Singh, a six-time MP from Baghpat, had lost to BJP’s Satya Pal Singh in the previous elections.
The fight for Muzzafarnagar will be a two-way contest between BJP and RLD as the Congress had earlier announced that they won’t contest on seven seats including RLD chief Ajit Singh’s seat.
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