Rahul vs Smriti is star attraction in fifth phase of Lok Sabha Elections 2019

  • Seven states are going to the polls in the fifth phase of Lok Sabha Elections 2019
  • Mint takes a look at the numbers, faces and places in this round

The fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections on Monday is the smallest, with polling being held in 51 seats. However, it features one of the biggest contests: Rahul Gandhi versus Smriti Irani in Amethi. Mint takes a look at the numbers, faces and places in this round.

Which are the states going to the polls?

Seven states are going to the polls in the fifth phase. Polling has so far been completed in 18 states and five Union territories. In Tamil Nadu, elections have been held in all the 39 seats, except Vellore. Phase V will see polling being completed in Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir. Voters in 12 seats of the desert state will exercise their franchise, while in India’s most troubled state, two seats, including Anantnag, will go to the polls. The biggest battle is in Uttar Pradesh, where 14 seats will witness elections in this phase. Polling will also be held in Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.

What are the events on people’s minds?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave an interview to Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar in which he presented a softer image. The interview generated controversy over Akshay’s Canadian citizenship and raised questions about his patriotism. Modi went to Ayodhya, but not to the disputed site. The Election Commission gave him a clean chit in a case related to his 21 April speech at Patan in Gujarat. This is the sixth clean chit he has got so far. India scored a major victory at the United Nations, when the world body declared Pakistan-based Masood Azhar, the chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed, a global terrorist.

What has been the voter turnout so far?

Every subsequent phase has seen a lower turnout than that of the previous one. The turnout in phase I was 69.5%, in phase IV it was 65.51%. In the 2014 elections, the overall figure was 66.4%.

Who are the big names in the poll fray?

Union minister Smriti Irani takes on Congress president Rahul Gandhi in the Gandhi bastion of Amethi, while Sonia Gandhi faces the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Dinesh Pratap Singh in another Gandhi stronghold, Rae Bareli. Home minister Rajnath Singh squares off against the Samajwadi Party’s Poonam Sinha in Lucknow. Lok Janshakti Party’s Pashupati Kumar Paras will fight Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Shiv Chandra Ram in Bihar’s Hajipur. Union minister Jayant Sinha will face the Congress’ Gopal Sahu at Hazaribagh in Jharkhand.

What are the key issues for voters?

In Uttar Pradesh, it’s a battle between caste and religion, championed by the grand alliance and BJP, respectively. These could overshadow concerns about lack of jobs and farm distress that go against BJP and the success of its Swachh Bharat, Ayushman Bharat and Ujjwala initiatives. Voters in Amethi, Rae Bareli, Lucknow and Hajipur tend to go with the party or the candidate. Modi’s image of a “doer" is still BJP’s main plank, especially in UP where the upper castes are not too happy with Yogi Adityanath’s government.