All eyes on battle for Delhi in sixth phase of Lok Sabha polls

The Lok Sabha election battle enters its second-last phase on Sunday, with polling being held in a single round in Delhi and Haryana. Some constituencies in other states will also go to the polls in this phase

Which are the states going to the polls?

The sixth phase will cover constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Delhi. Elections to all 10 seats in Haryana and seven in Delhi will be held in this phase, while in the other five they will end in the final phase. In terms of the number of seats, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are the biggest states going to the polls in phase VI, but all eyes will be on Delhi, where a triangular contest involving the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress, and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) makes the battle interesting. The contestants include sportspersons and singers, as well as veteran politicians.

What is the mood of the people?

Voters are seen to be either for Prime Minister Narendra Modi or against him, with most discussions centred around him. Some people believe that BJP will get about 200 seats, while others predict it will win 300. Statements by politicians have reached a new low and these have become talking points across various sections of society. Those whose statements have raised objections include Modi, Union minister Maneka Gandhi, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Singh Thakur, Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

What has been the voter turnout so far?

The turnout in phase I was 69.5%. The figure has fallen with every subsequent phase. In the fifth phase, the turnout was 62.46%. The overall turnout in the 2014 elections was 66.4%.

Who are the big names in the fray?

Former Delhi chief minister and Congress leader Sheila Dikshit takes on BJP’s Manoj Tiwari in North East Delhi. Her party colleague Ajay Maken faces Meenakshi Lekhi of BJP in New Delhi. Arvinder Singh Lovely of the Congress, BJP’s Gautam Gambhir and AAP’s Atishi fight it out in East Delhi. BJP has fielded Bhojpuri star Dinesh Lal Yadav “Nirahua" against SP chief Akhilesh Yadav in UP’s Azamgarh, while BJP’s Rita Bahuguna Joshi is pitted against Yogesh Shukla of the Congress in Prayagraj.

What are the main issues in these states?

Caste and religion play a big role in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The Yadavs, who are prominent in both states, are a dominant force. But the Modi factor and the challenge of the grand alliance cannot be discounted. Upper castes are angry with BJP for diluting the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, but the 10% quota for the economically weak among them could counter that. Modi’s tough stance on Pakistan may find favour among voters in Delhi, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, UP and Jharkhand.