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Electioneering Closed in 49 Constituencies for Fifth Phase Polling

Electioneering Closed in 49 Constituencies for Fifth Phase Polling

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NEW DELHI, May 18: The din of electioneering ended on Saturday evening in 49 constituencies including the high-profile Amethi and Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh which will go to the polls in the fifth phase of polling on Monday.

The campaigning saw high-pitched rhetoric by both the BJP and the INDIA bloc. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi sharpened his attack on the Congress claiming that the UPA government had wanted to allocate 15% of the budget to Muslims, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge widened the gamut of poll guarantees of his opposition bloc promising 10 kgs of free grains to the poor instead of five kgs being given at present.

Mr Modi, while campaigning in Uttar Pradesh on Friday, also claimed that the Congress and the Sanajwadi Party if voted to power would bulldozed the Ayodhya Ram Temple prompting the Congress to complain to the Election Commission on Saturday.

Of the 49 seats going to the polls on May 20, the BJP had won 32 in 2019, while the Congress got only Rae Bareli. This time, the BJP is contesting in 40 seats while the Congress has limited itself to just 18 seats, leaving the rest to its allies. For this phase, which has the least number of constituencies going to the polls, 695 candidates, including 82 women, are in the fray.

Some of the star candidates include the Congress’ Rahul Gandhi from Rae Bareli, the BJP’s Smriti Irani from Amethi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in Lucknow, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal from Mumbai-North, Omar Abdullah from Baramulla and the RJD’s Rohini Acharya from Saran in Bihar.

Uttar Pradesh, which sends the largest number of MPs to Parliament, will see 14 sensitive seats voting in the fifth phase with the fate of five Union Ministers at stake. These seats include Congress pocket boroughs Rae Bareli and Amethi, Faizabad, which includes Ayodhya, the nerve centre of the BJP’s Hindutva politics will also vote in this phase.

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi campaigned for Rahul Gandhi in Rae Bareli saying she was handing over her son to the people of Rae Bareli. “Rahul will not disappoint you,” she said. In neighbouring Amethi, where Union Minister Smriti Irani is locked in a tight contest with the Congress’s K.L. Sharma, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi held street corner meetings in his support.

All the seats in Mumbai are also going to polls in this phase. With the fifth phase, the polling process in 25 States and Union Territories will be over. The next two phases will be on May 25 and June 1 with votes to be counted on June 4.

(Manas Dasgupta)


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