The seventh and final phase of the Lok Sabha Polls 2019 is underway. Polling will be held in 59 parliamentary constituencies across seven states and one Union Territory, namely West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh (1 seat). As many as 918 candidates are in the fray, vying for votes of over 10 crore people.
While the BJP is aiming to defend the 30 seats it won in 2014, the regional parties and the Congress are seeking to increase their respective tallies. Significantly, a tight fight seems to be on the cards - 24 of the constituencies up for polling had been won by the smallest victory margin in the last general elections, India Today reported.
Which constituencies will vote on Phase 7 of Lok Sabha Elections 2019?
Uttar Pradesh: Varanasi, Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushi Nagar, Deoria, Bansgaon, Ghosi, Salempur, Ballia, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Mirzapur and Robertsganj
Bihar: Nalanda, Patna Sahib, Patliputra, Arrah, Buxar, Sasaram, Karakat, Jahanabad
Himachal Pradesh: Shimla, Kangra, Mandi and Hamirpur
Madhya Pradesh: Indore, Ujjain, Mandsour, Ratlam, Dhar, Khargone, Khandwa and Betul
Punjab: Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Khadoor Sahib, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Anandpur Sahib, Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib, Faridkot, Ferozpur, Bathinda, Sangrur and Patiala
Jharkhand: Rajmahal, Dumka and Godda
Chandigarh: 1 seat
West Bengal: Barasat, Basirhat, Joynagar, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Kolkata Dakshin, Kolkata Uttar and Dum Dum
What are the major parties in the states voting in Phase 7?
In the last phase polling, the BJP is expected to face a big challenge on eight seats in different states including UP, Punjab and West Bengal. Similarly, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), a coalition partner of BJP in Punjab, and Trinamool Congress are facing a tough challenge on four seats each, while other opposition parties like AAP, Congress, and JMM are witnessing a tight race on two seats each.
Punjab, where voting in this phase will take place for 13 seats, may hold a surprise element on as many as nine seats. The SAD, which is contesting 10 of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab in alliance with the BJP could face a fierce battle to retain its hold on Bathinda, Anandpur Sahib, Khadoor Sahib, and Ferozpur seats. The Hoshiarpur seat in Punjab held by BJP is also a high stake one. Meanwhile, the Congress is facing tight race on seats like Ludhiana and Jalandhar while AAP's two seats are under threat.
Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party, which has tied up with Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh, continues to prove a forceful third front in the state while in West Bengal, there's Mamata Banerjee's formidable All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) to contend with. The Grand Alliance is also posing a threat to the BJP in Jharkhand and Bihar.
Poll pundits will be closely watching Madhya Pradesh because except Indore, which has been with the BJP since 1989, most seats in western MP are swing seats. This is the region where the Congress expects to gain seats, the reference point for the party is the 2009 election when it won five of these eight seats, Dhar, Ratlam, Ujjain, Mandsaur and Khandwa, with the rest going to the BJP.
Who are the most high profile candidates in the last round?
The biggest name in this round is Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is up for re-election from Varanasi. The last PM to contest in the general elections was Atal Bihari Vajpayee 15 years ago. Sunday will also see voters decide whether former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar (Congress), Bhojpuri star Ravi Kishan (BJP), Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Bollywood veterans Shatrughan Sinha (Congress) and Sunny Deol (BJP) get elected as lawmakers to the lower house of parliament.
Which parties have the richest candidates?
The National Election Watch and non-profit election research group Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) analysed the self-sworn affidavits of 909 candidates out of the total total - affidavits of 9 candidates could not be analysed due to the unavailability of complete information - and found that 31% of the contestants boast assets worth over Rs 1 crore. The average asset per candidate contesting in phase 7 is Rs 4.61 crore, and the Congress has fielded candidates with the highest average assets.
Here's the party-wise break-up: The average assets for the 45 Congress candidates stood at Rs 17.15 crore while that for the 43 BJP candidates is Rs 9.82 crore. The 39 BSP candidates and 14 AAP candidates lag far behind at Rs 5.24 crore and Rs 5.20 crore, respectively.
Ramesh Kumar Sharma, who has declared Rs 1,107 crore assets in his election affidavit, is the richest candidate contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He is an independent candidate contesting from Patliputra constituency in Bihar. Ex-BJP rebel Sinha, also known as Shotgun, and Sukhbir Singh Badal and his wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal also rank among the top-5 richest candidates in fray.
How many candidates in this phase boast a criminal record?
According to the ADR report, 170 of the analysed 909 candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves in the self-sworn affidavits filed at the time of nomination. The BJP has fielded the most of such candidates (42% of the 43 saffron party contestants), followed by the Congress (31% of its candidates), AAP (21%), Bahujan Samaj Party (15%) and 9% among the 313 independents.
The list of offences includes cases related to murder, kidnapping and crimes against women, including rape. As many as 14% candidates have serious criminal cases against them and five contestants have declared convicted cases against themselves. More than half of the constituencies (33 seats) are reportedly red alert constituencies, where three or more contestants have some sort of a criminal record.
How to check the name on voters' list for Phase 7 of Lok Sabha Elections 2019?
Log on to the National Voter Services Portal's Electoral Search page (nvsp.in) and check your name on the voter's list by entering your details. You can alternatively put in your Electoral Photo ID Card (EPIC) number.
What to do if you don't have a Voter ID card?
Log on to the NSVP Electoral Search page and click on search by details. Put in your details, such as name, gender, age, assembly constituency etc. Based on your details, a result will pop up, which means that your name is in the voter's list. In case, there is no pop-up, it means your name is probably missing from the voter's list.
How can you report any violation of Model Code of Conduct?
Through the ECI's mobile app, cVIGIL, people report about any violation of Model Code of Conduct, any incident of intimidation or inducement within minutes of having witnessed. cVIGIL is an Android-based mobile app, which is user-friendly. "All that one has to do is to simply click a picture or to take a video and briefly describe the activity before uploading it on the cVIGIL mobile application. If the complainant desires to remain anonymous he has the option to do so," says the EC. The district control room allocates cVIGIL cases to the flying squads, which further investigate the matter. The status of the complaint is also with the cVIGIL complainant in 100 minutes.
(With PTI inputs)