By Gyan Pathak
April 23 will witness the most crucial Lok Sabha Election of 2019, the date on which 115 constituencies across 14 states will vote. NDA, UPA, and anti-Modi alliances have been leaving no stone unturned, because there are very high stakes in this phase. It would be opening the window on the next government formation, not only because the largest number of seats is going to poll but also it would mark the end of election on 303 seats leaving only 240 seats for the next four phases.
With election on four seats – Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Barpeta, and Gauhati – election process in Assam will be over. Barring Gauhati, which the BJP is most likely to retain, NDA nowhere has upper hand. The effect of NRC is clearly visible on voters. They are sharply polarized on communal lines. However, the poll mathematics are not that much in BJP’s favour as they have presumed. In final reckoning, the BJP is most likely to lose two seats out of seven they have in the state which has 14 seats altogether.
Five seats – Jhanjharpur, Supaul, Araria, Madhepura, and Khagaria – in Bihar are being contested tooth and nail. It is NDA vs UPA, and no one is assured of their victory. The impact of NYAY is visible. Anti-incumbency against NDA working. But the alliance of the BJP, JD(U), and LJP has tilted the poll arithmetic in their favour except in Araria which is an RJD seat presently.
With seven seats – Surguja, Raigarh, Janjgir-Champa, Korba, Bilaspur, Durg and Raipur – going to poll in this phase, election in Chhattisgarh will be over. INC is clearly winning Durg and Korba, and giving a tough fight to BJP in Surguja and Raipur. However, BJP seems to have upper hand in Raigarh, Janjgir-Champa, and Bilaspur. In the final reckoning, the BJP is likely to win five, and INC four out of 11 in the state. The rest two seats are emanating conflicting signals which may go to any side depending on the swing of votes on the polling day.
The UTs, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, have two seats altogether, one in each. Both seats are presently held by the BJP, albeit with very small winning margin of 3.83 and 10.73 per cent respectively. Due to their proximity with Maharashtra and Gujarat, where BJP is strongest compared to all other states in the country, the party seems to have considerable influence on voters. However, INC in Dadra and Nagar Haveli is not far behind. In Daman and Diu too, INC has made the BJP’s walk-over a little difficult. Anti-incumbency against BJP seems to be working.
BJP seems to be comfortable in North Goa, but they are in trouble in South Goa this time. Both the seats are presently held by the party. Their winning margin in South Goa in 2014 was only 7.96 per cent. The party has been weakened since then and there is anti-incumbency too. They need to exert more to save this site for themselves from the INC onslaught.
Gujarati pride is working more effectively in favour of Modi in Gujarat than his so called charisma. All the 26 constituencies in the state are going to poll in this phase, and in most of them the BJP is comfortably placed. However, in Anand, Bardoli, and Sabarkantha, BJP candidates are in close contest with INC. The BJP had won these seats in the height of Modi wave in 2014 by margins of only 6.65, 10.44, and 7.88 per cent which has given a great hope to INC of snatching theses seats from the BJP. INC and all other political parties are putting their best efforts to make this happen.
Since election in Anantnag constituency of Jammu and Kashmir will be held in three phases from now, it is not clear in which side the wind is blowing. Mehbooba Mufti of PDP had won this seat in 2014 defeating Mirza Mehboob Beg of JKN by a margin of 17.71 per cent. This is the only constituency in the country where elections will be held in multiple phases. She has lately become Modi’s bête-noir and therefore BJP is trying its best to sabotage her chances of win. Mehbooa has more than once voiced her concern about the misuse of security forces by Modi in the helm of affair in the centre, and there is a rumour in the area that the administrative system is indirectly and by default in favour of JKN. However, it would be too early to say anything about this constituency before the fifth phase of election.
With election in 14 constituencies – Chikkodi, Belgaum, Bagalkot, Bijapur, Gulbarga, Raichur, Bidar, Koppal, Bellari, Haveri, Dharwad, Uttara Kannada, Davanagere, and Shimoga – in this phase, election in Karnataka will be complete. Anti-incumbency and counter-anti-incumbency against BJP and UPA respectively had made the situation volatile in the state. BJP has upper hand in Shimoga, and Uttar Kannad, but in Bagalkot, Dharwad, and Bidar they are in close contest with UPA. In Belgaum, Bijapur, Koppal, Bellary, Haveri, and Devangere the BJP candidates are struggling to retain their seats which the party had won with a slender margin in 2014 even riding on Modi Wave. INC is most likely to retain their Chikkodi, Gulbarga, and Raichur seats. In final reckoning, it seems, BJP may lose eight seats out of 17 they presently hold among the 29 seats in the state. Even in worst of the situation UPA is likely to bag at least 16 seats.
All the 20 constituencies will be voting in Karala. There is UPA vs LDF this time too, and BJP or NDA may not be able to even open their account. With Rahul Gandhi contesting from Wayanad, the prospect of the INC has brightened a little compared to LDF. There are close fights in almost all seats except in Ernakulam, Kottayam, Malappuram and Palakkad, held presently by INC, KEC(M), IUML, and CPM respectively. They are most likely retaining their seat. However, there will be no cake-walk for Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad, the seat which was won by the INC in 2014 by a slender margin of only 2.31 per cent. There are 13 constituencies in the state where winning margin were less than 5 per cent. Obviously, the state is witnessing toughest political battle compared to all the states in the country.
BJP and Shiv Sena – both the partners of NDA – have clearly an edge over their adversaries in Maharashtra. A total of 14 seats are going to poll in this phase. BJP is comfortable in Jalgaon, Raver, Pune, Ahmadnagar, Sangli, and Jalna. SHS is comfortable in Aurangabad and Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, but struggling to retain its Raigad seat which it had won by a very slender margin of 0.22 per cent in 2014. NDA has put NCP in vulnerable position in Barmati, Madha, and Kolhapur which NCP had won by small margins of only 6.63, 2.36, and 2.65 respectively. NCP is comfortably placed in Satara and SWP in Hatkanagle.
Out of six seats – Sambalpur, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Cuttack, Puri, and Bhubaneswar – in Odisha, only Sambalpur presents a challenge to BJD which the party had won by a slender margin of 3.15 per cent in the last election. In all others they will have comfortable win. There is a triangular fight on Sambalpur seat where BJD, BJP, and INC are pitted against each other. BJP was runner-up last time and INC was not also far behind.
Ten seats of Uttar Pradesh – Moradabad, Rampur, Sambhal, Firozabad, Mainpuri, Etah, Badaun, Aonla, Bareilly, and Pilibhit – are to vote in this phase. BJP is most likely to retain Etah, Bareilly and Pilibhit, but will be losing Moradabad, Rampur, and Sambhal to SP-BSP alliance which they had won by a slender margin of 7.79, 2.47, and 0.49 per cent respectively despite the Modi wave in 2014. There is a tough fight in Aonla between the two with a slight edge of SP-BSP alliance. SP will retain its Firozabad, Mainpuri, and Badaun seats.
Among the five constituencies in West Bengal, INC is comfortably placed in Maldha Dakshin, and AITC in Balurghat. However, in Malda Uttar, Jangipur, and Murshidabad, the fight is between INC and CPM. Unexpected results may come out from these seats. INC had won the first two of three by small margins of only 5.70 and 0.74 per cent while the CPM had won the last by a margin of only 1.44 per cent. (IPA Service)