Lok Sabha elections phase 4: Looking at top 5 battles
The fourth phase of polls will be held on Monday, April 29. Like we have seen, the battle is not restricted to BJP and Congress, as several regional parties have shown they won't back down easily. Polling will happen in 9 states for 72 seats and 957 candidates are in the fray. Here's looking at five key battles which will keep news cycles running.
In Begusarai, also known as Leningrad of Bihar, CPI has placed its bets on Kanhaiya Kumar, the former JNUSU president who became a "known face" after he was accused of sedition. The political newbie will take on Union Minister Giriraj Singh, whose first choice was Nawada. The battle became more interesting after Congress-RJD combine gave a ticket to Tanveer Hassan. Begusarai has a sizeable Muslim and Bhumihar population.
Sitting MP of Mumbai North, Gopal Shetty is facing fierce competition from actress and Congress candidate Urmila Matondkar. Historically, the large Gujarati population made winning Mumbai North easy for BJP but within a fortnight Urmila has put up a good fight. Her intricate door-to-door campaigning has struck a chord among voters. In 2014, Congress' Sanjay Nirupam lost by a margin of 4.46 lakh votes.
After West Bengal's capital, Asansol is the second largest city with a cosmopolitan population. Dotted with coal mines, both legal and illegal, the fight for Asansol is a matter of prestige for Trinamool matriarch Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Singer Babul Supriyo will take on actress-turned-politician Moon Moon Sen. In 2014, Supriyo ended the red spell by defeating CPI(M)'s Bansa Gopal Chowdhury.
From Mumbai South, Congress has fielded Milind Deora to take on sitting Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant. Deora got a big boost recently when Reliance Industries head honcho Mukesh Ambani endorsed his candidature. While Deora has more weight that Sawant, voters (which include elites of Mumbai) may vote for the latter because of PM Modi. This factor may give an edge to Sena.
In Uttar Pradesh's Kannauj, Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav's daughter-in-law Dimple Yadav will fight BJP's Subrat Pathak, who lost by 19,000 votes last time. With support from BSP, RLD, and Congress (it hasn't fielded any candidate), SP hopes to retain its bastion. But in Kannauj as well, PM Modi factor might help Pathak. While local issues are rampant, many voters want to give PM Modi second chance.