In the fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections on Monday, 51 constituencies will vote across seven states as the mega election process to elect 543 members of the Lok Sabha nears conclusion.
This round will see some high-profile contests in Rae Bareli – where Sonia Gandhi is in the fray, Lucknow -Rajnath Singh is contesting from here, Amethi – Rahul Gandhi’s seat and Saran – where BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy is contesting.
Here is a look at some of the close contests in phase five of the Lok Sabha elections:
In the ring: Rajnath Singh (BJP) Acharya Pramod Krishnam (Congress) Poonam Sinha (SP)
Quick take: Many consider victory a foregone conclusion for BJP’s Rajnath Singh on the seat that BJP has not lost in the last seven Lok Sabha elections (since 1991). Last time the Congress won this seats was 1984, SP and BSP have never won this seat. However, both Acharya Pramod Krishnam (a seer) and Poonam Sinha (former Bollywood actor and wife of Congress’ Shatrughan Sinha) have made the poll interesting.
2014 results: Rajnath Singh of BJP won the seat by a margin of 2.72 lakh votes against Congress’ Rita Bahuguna Joshi.
In the ring: Sonia Gandhi (Congress), Dinesh Pratap Singh (BJP)
Quick take: Congress leader Sonia Gandhi is looking for a straight fifth term from this seat. The alliance has not fielded a candidate against her. She is in a straight fight with BJP’s Dinesh Pratap Singh.
2014 results: Sonia Gandhi had won the seat with a margin of 3.52 lakh votes against the BJP’s Ajay Agarwal. It was the highest victory margin in UP in 2014.
In the ring: Rahul Gandhi (Congress) and Smriti Irani (BJP)
Quick take: The Congress has lost this seat only twice –once to Janata Dal in 1977 and then to BJP in 1998. Rahul Gandhi is looking for a fourth straight victory on the seat, but the union minister and BJP candidate Smriti Irani is putting up a brave fight. Despite losing the contest in 2014, she continued to visit and campaign in the constituency.
2014 results: Rahul Gandhi of Congress won the seat by a margin of 1 lakh votes against BJP’s Smriti Irani.
In the ring: Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti (BJP), Shukhdev Prasad Verma (BSP) and Rakesh Sachchan (Congress)
Quick take: Firebrand Niranjan Jyoti, the sitting MP , is in a triangular contest with the SP-BSP-RLD alliance candidate Sukhdev Prasad Verma and Congress’ Rakesh Sachchan, who had been an SP lawmaker and had won in 2009. Former prime minister the Late VP Singh had won this seat twice.
2014 results: Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti of BJP won by a margin of 1.8 lakh votes against BSP’s Afzal Siddiqui.
In the ring: Savitri Bai Phule (Congress), Akshaywar Lal Gaur (BJP), Shabbir Ahmed Balmiki (SP)
Quick take: The sitting BJP MP Savitri Bai Phule, who recently joined the Congress, is tied in a triangular contest with Shabbir Ahmed Balmiki of the SP and Akshaywar Lal Gaur of the BJP.
2014 results: Savitri Bai Phule, then with the BJP, won the seat by a margin of 95,000 votes against SP’s Shabbir Ahmed.
In the ring: Rekha Verma(BJP), Jitin Prasada (Congress), Arshad Siddiqui (BSP).
Quick take: Congress’ Jitin Prasada was the first MP of this constituency that was formed in 2009 . But in the Modi wave of 2014, Prasada came fourth. This time, it will be a triangular contest among BJP, the SP-BSP alliance, and the Congress. The combined vote share of SP and BSP was 10% higher than the BJP’s 33% vote share last time.
2014 result: Rekha Verma of BJP defeated BSP’s Daud Ahmed by 1.25 lakh votes.
In the ring: Krishna Poonia (Congress), Col. Rajyavardhan Rathore (BJP), Virender Singh Bidhuri (BSP)
Quick take: For Rajyavardhan Rathore, the incumbent BJP MP and Olympic silver medalist, the contest is interesting as he is pitted against another Olympian, Krishan Poonia, the Congress MLA from Sadulpur in Churu district. Congress has fielded her because of a large number of Jat voters in the constituency. Rathore made his political debut with the 2014 general election and became the information and broadcasting minister in Modi government.
2014 result: Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (BJP) defeated CP Joshi (Congress) by 3,32,896 votes.
In the ring: Dr Jyoti Mirdha (Congress) and Hanuman Beniwal (Rashtriya Loktantrik Party).
Quick take: The BJP did not field its incumbent MP CR Choudhary and instead backed a fledgling party, Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, which won three Assembly seats in December 2018 state election. RLTP’s founder Hanuman Beniwal was with the BJP earlier but quit the party over differences with Vasundhara Raje. In 2014 general election, Beniwal got 1,59,980 votes as an Independent candidate. Nagaur is a Jat dominated constituency and both Mirdha and Beniwal are Jats.
2014 result: CR Choudhary (BJP) defeated Dr Jyoti Mirdha (Congress) by 75,218 votes.
In the ring: Bhanwar Jitendra Singh (Congress), Balak Nath (Bharatiya Janata Party), Imran Khan (Bahujan Samaj Party).
Quick take: Alwar had a by-election in February 2018 after the incumbent BJP MP Mahant Chand Nath died. Dr Karan Singh Yadav of the Congress won the by-election but the Congress has now fielded Bhanwar Jitendra Singh, who contested the 2014 general election and lost. The BJP has fielded Chand Nath’s successor Balak Nath, probably to win over the Yadav electors in the constituency.
2014 result: Chand Nath (BJP) defeated Jitendra Singh (Congress) by 2,83,895 votes.
In the ring: Rajiv Pratap Rudy (BJP) and Chandrika Rai (RJD)
Quick take: All eyes are on Saran, simply because Lalu Prasad’s ‘samdhi’ Chandrika Rai (father in-law of his eldest son Tej Pratap Yadav) and former union minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy are in the electoral fray. Saran was represented by Lalu Prasad in 2009 but in 2014, Rudy defeated his wife Rabri Devi after Lalu was barred from contesting the polls.
2014 result: Rajiv Pratap Rudy of BJP defeated Rabri Devi of RJD by 40948 votes.
In the ring: Pashupati Paras (LJP) and Shiv Chandra Ram (RJD)
Quick take: Although LJP chief and union minister Ram Vilas Paswan is not contesting this time, yet he faces a big test in his bastion Hajipur from where his brother, Pashupati Paras is contesting. Paswan, barring 1984, 1991, and 2009, had been representing this constituency since 1977.
2014 results: Ramvilas Paswan (LJP) won the seat by nearly 225,500 votes against Sanjeev Prasad Toni of the Congress.
In the ring: Dinesh Trivedi (Trinamool Congress), Arjun Singh (Bharatiya Janata Party), Gargi Chatterjee (CPI-M), Md. Alam (Congress)
Quick take: This otherwise low-key constituency turned into one of Bengal’s most high-profile contests as four-time TMC MLA Arjun Singh switched to BJP soon after the Bengal party re-nominated its two-time Barrackpore MP and former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi from this seat. Barrackpore being part of the declining Hooghly industrial belt, both the TMC and BJP are accusing each other of doing nothing for the region. PM Modi and Mamata Banerjee have campaigned here.
2014 result: Dinesh Trivedi (TMC) defeated Subhashini Ali (CPI(M) by 206,773 votes.
In the ring: Mamata Thakur (Trinamool Congress), Shantanu Thakur (Bharatiya Janata Party), Alokesh Das (Communist Party of India (Marxist), Sourav Prasad (Congress)
Quick take: In Bongaon, the sharply divided Matua community makes the largest share of voters. While the TMC has renominated Mamata Thakur, the incumbent who also heads one faction of the Matua Mahasangha – highest body of the sect – BJP has fielded her nephew who heads the rival faction of the Mahasangha. Citizenship screening exercise has been the key issues here.
2014 result: Mamata Thakur (TMC) defeated Debesh Das (CPI(M) by 1,46,601 votes.
In the ring: Babulal Marandi (JVM-P) Annapurna Devi (BJP), Raj Kumar Yadav (CPI-ML).
Quick take: JVM–P chief Babulal Marandi is contesting as joint candidate of opposition grand alliance in the state against the BJP, which dropped sitting MP Ravindra Kumar Ray and fielded Annapurna Devi, former minister and state president of Rashtriya Janata Dal. Marandi, the only tribal leader in the state contesting from a general seat, has won this seat thrice in the past—2004, 2006 (by-election) and 2009. Devi, a former four-term legislator from Kodarma joined BJP days ahead of her candidature declaration. CPI-ML legislator from Rajdhanawar, Rajkumar Yadav has, made the contest triangular.
2014 result: BJP’s Ravindra Kumar Ray defeated Rajkumar Yadav of CPI-ML by 98,654 votes.
Khunti (Reserved for STs)
In the ring: Arjun Munda (BJP), Kalicharan Munda (Congress).
Quick take: Khunti is BJP-stronghold as it has been represented by former deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, Karia Munda eight times. BJP has rested Karia Munda this and fielded ex-CM Arjun Munda . The Congress has fielded Kalicharan Munda from this tribal and Christian dominated seat. He is brother of BJP minister Neelkanth Munda.
2014 result: Karia Munda of BJP defeated Enos Ekka of the Jharkhand Party by 92,248 votes.
In the ring: Jayant Sinha (BJP) Gopal Sahu (Congress)
Quicktake: Jayant Sinha is looking for a second term from Hazaribag, which was earlier represented by his father Yashwant Sinha. Congress has fielded Gopal Sahu, brother of Rajya Sabha member Dhiraj Sahu. The Sahus belong to one of the most renowned business families of Ranchi. Former CPI MP from Hazaribag, Bhuvneshwar Mehta, is also in the running from the seat.
2014 result: Jayant Sinha of BJP defeated Saurabh Narayan Singh of the Congress by 159,128 votes.
In the ring: Virendra Kumar (BJP), Kiran Ahirwar (Congress) and RD Prajapati (SP)
Quick take: Sitting MP and union minister Virendra Kumar been winning Lok Sabha elections consecutively since 1996 . Tikamgarh seat, a part of Bundelkhand region, was created in 2009 which he won in 2009 and 2014. Congress has relied on Kiran Ahirwar, 47, who is a new face in the electoral battle. Ahirwar is a secretary of MP Mahila Congress. Samajwadi Party has fielded RD Prajapati,56, an ex-MLA who joined the party three weeks back.
2014 results: Virendra Kumar (BJP) defeated Kamlesh Verma Ahirwar (Congress) by 208,731 votes
In the ring: Prahlad Patel (BJP), Pratap Singh Lodhi (Cong) and Jittu Singh Badal (BSP)
Quick take: Sitting MP and former union minister Prahlad Patel, 59, faced opposition from a section of BJP workers for being an ‘outsider’. The BJP stalwart from the Mahakoshal region won this seat in Bundelkhand region in 2014 polls when he was shifted here by the party. Given the domination of the Lodhi caste in this constituency, the Congress has fielded ex-MLA Pratap Singh Lodhi,57. Prahlad Patel too belongs to Lodhi caste.
2014 results: Prahlad Patel (BJP) defeated Choudhary Mahendra Pratap Singh (Congress) by 213,299 votes
In the ring: Rigzin Spalbar (Congress), Jamyang Tsering Namgyal (BJP), Asgar Ali Karbalai and Sajjad Hussain, both independents.
Quick take: The Parliamentary Constituency comprises two districts of Leh and Kargil. The Kargil district consists of two assembly segments Kargil and Zanskar while as Leh district includes Nubra and Leh assembly segments. The constituency will witness a four-way contest .
2014 result: Thupsun Chewang of BJP defeated the then Congress candidate Ghulam Raza by a margin of mere 36 votes.