CAMPAIGNING ended on Saturday evening for elections to 51 Lok Sabha seats in six northern and eastern states besides the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh in the fifth phase on May 6 with Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Rajyavardhan Rathore, Smriti Irani, Jayant Sinha and Arjun Ram Meghwal and top Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and among those in the fray. Polling will be held on Monday in 14 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 12 in Rajasthan, seven seats each in West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, five in Bihar, four in Jharkhand and two seats in Jammu and Kashmir. Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the BJP’s campaigning, holding several rallies.
BJP chief Amit Shah, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and a host of Union ministers among others also canvassed for their party candidates in the past few days, undertaking whirlwind tours of constituencies. In West Bengal, the BJP candidate from Bongaon (SC) seat, Shantanu Thakur, was injured in a road accident. A police van lost control and hit Thakur’s vehicle at the front when he was heading towards Kalyani to attend an election rally on the last day of campaigning, police said. Thakur, his driver and two others who were in the vehicle, were injured, they said. Campaigning in the state during the past couple of days was marred by panic over Cyclone Fani, which caused large scale destruction in neighbouring Odisha, with political parties cancelling their election meetings.
Seats in which elections will be held on Monday are Bongaon (SC), Barrackpur, Howrah, Uluberia, Serampore, Hooghly and Arambagh (SC) where an electorate of 1,16,91,889 will decide the fate of 83 candidates, the Election Commission said. In Bihar, Modi canvassed in favour of the BJP candidates as also nominees fielded by alliance partners JD(U) and LJP. He described the ruling NDA in the State as a cohesive three-in-one entity and the Opposition weak, loosely knit and helpless against menaces of black money, corruption and threats to national security. BJP MPs Ajay Nishad and Rajiv Pratap Rudy are seeking re-election from their respective seats of Muzaffarpur and Saran respectively in Bihar.
LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, who has announced that he would no longer contest direct elections, has fielded his younger brother and State Minister Pashupati Kumar Paras from his pocket borough of Hajipur. A high-decibel campaign for seven Lok Sabha constituencies in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh also ended Saturday. Polling for Tikamgarh, Damoh, Khajuraho, Satna, Rewa, Hoshangabad and Betul seats, all held by the BJP currently, will take place on Monday. This will be the second phase of polling in Madhya Pradesh, the first phase having been held on April 29.