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Lok Sabha elections 2024 Phase 1: Big faces and high-stakes battles

First Published: 19th April, 2024 7:01 IST

The candidature of its Tamil Nadu state president shows that the BJP is pressing hard to increase its presence in South India

With the first phase of voting for the Lok Sabha elections set to take place on Friday, let us look at the big faces in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA versus the opposition’s INDIA bloc.
The Coimbatore Lok Sabha seat in Tamil Nadu will witness a high-stakes battle, with State BJP president K Annamalai facing DMK leader Ganapathy P Rajkumar and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (AIADMK) Singai Ramachandran.

The candidature of its Tamil Nadu state president shows that the BJP is pressing hard to increase its presence in South India.
Annamalai faces strong competition from parties like DMK and AIADMK, which hold prominent significance in Tamil Nadu with their dedicated followers.
In his post on X, Annamalai said, “For an honest political change to take place in Tamil Nadu, for youth politics to be born, for equal opportunities to flourish for all, for the pride of Kongu land to be known throughout the country, for Coimbatore to travel on the path of development, I earnestly request all the voters of the Coimbatore Parliament to vote for the lotus symbol.”

Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, will be eyeing a third straight victory from Maharashtra’s Nagpur parliamentary seat. The seat will witness the contest between senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari and Congress candidate Vikas Thakre, who is currently the Nagpur West MLA.
Recently, Nitin Gadkari released ‘Vachan Nama’ (Manifesto) for the Nagpur Lok Sabha constituency.
“We plan to open an organic fruits and vegetables and foodgrains market in Nagpur,” he said.”I am 101 per cent sure of my victory. This time I will win the election with a very good margin. Given the support of the public, their enthusiasm, and the hard work of the party workers, I will try my best to win with a margin of more than 5 lakhs,” Gadkari said after his name was announced by the party.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Nitin Gadkari registered victory with a massive vote share of 55.7 per cent. He defeated the current Maharashtra Congress President, Nana Patole, with a victory margin of 2,16,009 votes.
Jitin Prasada, who quit Congress in 2021, is one of the prominent faces of the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections as he replaced two-time MP from Pilibhit, Varun Gandhi.
The BJP has demonstrated a solid majority in UP in the previous two Lok Sabha elections, gaining the majority of seats. Pilibhit, one of the 80 Lok Sabha constituencies in UP, scheduled to go into polls on Friday. The BJP’s Jitin Prasada, the Samajwadi Party’s (SP) Bhagwat Saran Gangwar, and the Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) Anis Ahmed Khan are in the political fray from Pilibhit. The BJP’s Prasada secured victory in the 2004 elections from Shahajahanpur and the 2009 elections from Dharura seats.
In the 2019 elections, BJP leader Feroze Varun Gandhi of the BJP emerged victorious in Pilibhit, securing a notable mandate with 704,549 votes with 59.4 per cent of votes.

In Bihar, former Chief Minister, Jitan Ram Manjhi is contesting from the Gaya seat, which has the highest number of 14 candidates contesting the elections this time. This election holds important political significance for the 79-year-old Manjhi.
In the 2024 election, the BJP has left the Gaya (reserved) seat for its ally, the Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular (HAM-S). Jitan Ram Manjhi and former minister and RJD candidate Kumar Sarvjeet are in the electoral fray. The seat was earlier represented in parliament by Vijay Kumar, alias Vijay Manjhi of JD (U).
In the last Lok Sabha election, the JD (U) candidate defeated Manjhi by a margin of more than 1.52 lakh votes. Manjhi’s HAM was part of a grand alliance in the last election. “Wherever we are going, everyone is raising slogans of ‘Abki baar 400 paar’. People themselves are saying that they will vote for PM Modi. We don’t see any challenge,” Manjhi said.
Meanwhile, in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhindwara, the BJP is leaving no stone unturned to snatch the lone seat won by the Congress in the 2019 elections. Nakul Nath, son of former CM Kamal Nath, is fighting again from the Chhindwara seat against BJP candidate Vivek Bunty Sahu, who had lost to Kamal Nath in the last two assembly polls. The BJP already showed in the recently conducted assembly polls that it has an upper advantage in the Hindi heartland state.

In the 2019 elections, Congress leader Nakul Nath got a total of 47.1 per cent of the vote, whereas the defeated BJP candidate touched 44.1 per cent. Madhya Pradesh has a total of 29 Lok Sabha seats. “I have full faith that the people of Chhindwara will give their love and blessings to me again,” Nakul Nath said after filing the nomination papers.
Similarly, the Jorhat seat in Assam will decide if the Congress’ deputy leader in Lok Sabha, Gaurav Gogoi, can make it to the elected house this time too. The constituency has been seen as a stronghold of the BJP.
However, Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi’s decision to contest the elections from Jorhat, instead of his family’s stronghold Kaziranga (erstwhile Kaliabor) — from where he is sitting MP — has made the contest interesting.
Topon Kumar Gogoi, the sitting MP, will contest against Gaurav Gogoi. In the 2019 elections, Topon got 5,43,288 votes, while Congress candidate Sushanta Borgohain got 4,60,635 votes. (ANI)

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