Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin : A look at high-stakes contests in first phase

Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin

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Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin : Eight Union ministers, two former chief ministers and one ex-governor are among those who are set to test their electoral fate in the first phase.

India’s 44-day-long election season has finally arrived!

After weeks of high-voltage electioneering, marked by grand roadshows and marathon poll yatras, the 2024 Lok Sabha elections kicked off today with 102 constituencies going to polls in the first phase. Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin

The general election will be held in seven phases from April 19 to June 1 and the results will be declared on June 4.

Complete coverage: Lok Sabha elections 2024

The first round of the election will also be the biggest, with voting taking place in nearly one-fifth of all constituencies. Voting will start at 7 am and conclude at 6 pm. Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin

It will cover as many as 21 states/UTs, including Arunachal Pradesh (2), Assam (5), Bihar (4), Chhattisgarh (1), Madhya Pradesh (6), Maharashtra (5), Manipur (2), Meghalaya (2), Mizoram (1), Nagaland (1), Rajasthan (12), Sikkim (1), Tamil Nadu (39), Tripura (1), Uttar Pradesh (8), Uttarakhand (5), West Bengal (3), Andaman and Nicobar (1), J&K (1), Lakshadweep (1) and Puducherry (1). Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin

Eight Union ministers, two former chief ministers, and one ex-governor are among those who are set to test their electoral fate in this phase. Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin

Lok Sabha elections 2024 complete schedule

Battleground seats

Several high-profile clashes are on the cards on April 19 with Union ministers, debutants and turncoats in the fray. Here are the key battles/candidates to watch out for:

Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu): Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai is facing DMK leader Ganapathy P Rajkumar and AIADMK’s Singai Ramachandran. Annamalai has emerged as a star candidate for the BJP and a central figure in the party’s expansion plans across the region. He will face DMK leader Ganapathy P Rajkumar and AIADMK’s Singai Ramachandran. BJP fancies its chances in Coimbatore since it has been a significant player here and even won the seat once in 1999. Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin

Chennai (Tamil Nadu): Known to be a DMK bastion, the three constituencies in Chennai (Chennai South, Chennai Central and Chennai North) are expected to see a tough fight on April 19. In fact, the incumbent DMK candidates may even be under pressure as sections of the angry electorate are leaning towards BJP since the MPs were not to be seen during the December 2023 floods, especially in Chennai South. Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin

Pilibhit (Uttar Pradesh): One of the most interesting contests in the first phase of polling will be in Pilibhit, where BJP has fielded Jitin Prasada, once a close aide of Rahul Gandhi. The decision generated significant buzz since Pilibhit was represented by Varun Gandhi, who has been sidelined in the upcoming elections. Prasada will be challenged by SP’s Bhagwat Saran Gangwar and BSP’s Anis Ahmed Khan Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin

Cooch Behar (West Bengal): Here, the contest is essentially between BJP candidate Nishith Pramanik and Trinamool’s Jagadish Chandra Burma Basunia. In the last Lok Sabha polls, Pramanik won by over 50,000 votes. Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee visited the constituency on April 4 and set the tone for their representatives. The parties are also trying to woo the Rajbanshis who account for about 40 percent of the voters in the constituency. Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin

Chhindwara (Madhya Pradesh): Congress veteran Kamal Nath’s legacy will be at stake as his son Nakul Nath eyes another term from the family bastion. Notably, Chhindwara was the only seat won by Congress in MP in the previous Lok Sabha polls. BJP has fielded Vivek ‘Bunty’ Sahu from the seat. Sahu previously lost to Kamal Nath in the assembly polls.

Muzaffarnagar (Uttar Pradesh): Known for its intricate caste dynamics, the west UP constituency is witnessing a three-cornered electoral battle. Union minister Sanjeev Baliyan is locked in competition against Samajwadi Party’s Harindra Malik and BSP candidate Dara Singh Prajapati. Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin

Alwar (Rajasthan): The clash in Alwar, widely regarded as Ground Zero of India’s cow vigilantism, is perhaps the most intriguing electoral contest in Rajasthan. In this ‘Yadav vs Yadav’ battle, BJP veteran and Union minister Bhupender Yadav is pitted against a young sitting MLA, Lalit Yadav of the Congress. Stakes here are high for Bhupendra Yadav, who is known for his closeness to PM Modi.

Gaya (Bihar): HAM leader Jitan Ram Manjhi is pitted against RJD’s Kumar Sarvjeet in a clash of alliances. While Manjhi is part of BJP-led NDA, Sarvjeet will represent the RJD-Congress Gathbandhan. Former Bihar CM Manjhi contested from Gaya unsuccessfully on three previous occasions. Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin

Nilgiris (Tamil Nadu): The contest here will be a keenly-watched battle with A Raja, the incumbent DMK MP, and former telecom minister, facing L Murugan of the BJP, who is the Union minister of state for fisheries. This will be the first time that Murugan, who was elected to Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh, is contesting from here.

J&K (Udhampur): The only J&K seat going to polls in the first phase, the election here will be closely watched especially since it will be the first such major exercise since the revocation of Article 370 in 2019 and will set the tone for the assembly polls due by September this year. Union minister and incumbent MP Jitendra Singh will face Congress’s two-time Lok Sabha MP Choudhary Lal Singh. Ghulam Nabi Azad’s Democratic Progressive Azad Party has fielded GM Saroori from the seat. Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin

Arunachal West (Arunachal Pradesh): Union minister Kiren Rijiju, who has represented the constituency thrice since 2004, has again been fielded by BJP. Rijiju’s main rival is former chief minister and current president of Arunachal Pradesh Congress Nabam Tuki.

Dibrugarh (Assam): Sarbanada Sonowal, Union minister of ports, shipping and waterways, is seeking a return to Lok Sabha from Dibrugarh in Assam. Sonowal, a Rajya Sabha member, was fielded from Dibrugarh after Union minister of state for petroleum and natural gas Rameswar Teli was denied a ticket. Sonowal had stepped aside as the CM of Assam to make way for Himanta Biswa Sarma after the assembly elections.

West Tripura (Tripura): The seat will see a high-voltage clash between former chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb and state Congress president Ashish Kumar Saha. Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin

Jorhat (Assam): Former CM Tarun Gogoi’s son Gaurav Gogoi will contest from Jorhat this year. He had won the previous two Lok Sabha elections from the Kaliabor constituency. He will face BJP’s Topon Kumar Gogoi, who won in 2019.

Thoothukudi (Tamil Nadu): DMK’s deputy general secretary and Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi is seeking re-election from the constituency. AIADMK candidate R Sivasamy Velumani, who runs the Puttur Bone and Joint Fracture Treatment Centre in Chennai, and TMC candidate S D R Vijayaseelan, are also in the fray. Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin

NDA vs INDIA

The contest in the 2024 general election is primarily between the BJP-led NDA – which is eyeing a third straight term in power – and an alliance of opposition parties called ‘INDIA’, which includes Congress.

PM Modi, who is confident of returning to power yet again, has set an ambitious target of 400 plus seats for NDA this time, including 370 for BJP alone. With momentum on BJP’s side and opinion polls widely predicting its victory, PM Modi is on the verge of becoming the third longest-serving Prime Minister of the country after Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi. Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin

On the other hand, opposition parties such as Congress, TMC, AAP, Shiv Sena, SP, and NCP, have joined hands to deny PM Modi another term in power, warning that a third term for PM Modi will be detrimental to Indian democracy. However, hectic seat-sharing talks, turf wars and regionals interests have diluted the larger opposition mission to counter the BJP juggernaut. Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin

In its manifesto released ahead of polling, the BJP prioritised development and welfare while shunning populist measures and contentious issues like the NRC. Named “Modi ki Guarantee”, the manifesto largely built on the government’s existing welfare schemes targeted at different sections of society, while reiterating the BJP’s commitment to roll out one-nation-one-election and Uniform Civil Code, two issues mentioned in its 2019 manifesto too. Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin

Meanwhile, in its 45-page manifesto titled ‘Nyay Patra’, Congress focussed on five “pillars of justice” and 25 guarantees under them. Right to apprenticeship, a legal guarantee for MSP, passing a constitutional amendment to raise the 50 percent cap on reservations for SCs, STs, and OBCs, a nationwide caste census and scrapping of the Agnipath scheme are among the promises made by the party in the manifesto. Lok Sabha elections 2024 begin

The second phase of polling for 89 seats in 13 states and Union territories will be held on April 26.

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