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Lok Sabha elections 2024: Campaigning ends for fifth phase, 49 seats to vote on May 20

NEW DELHI: Campaigning for the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections ended on Saturday amid the sweltering heat and high-pitch political rhetorics and promises by contestants in the fray.
In the fifth phase, polling will take place in 49 constituencies across six states and two Union Territories, including the high-stake Rae Bareli and Amethi seats from where former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Union minister Smriti Irani are contesting.
For Rahul Gandhi, Rae Bareli will be the second seat from where he is contesting the national polls. The Congress scion has already contested from Kerala’s Wayanad in the second phase.
Rae Bareli is a Nehru-Gandhi family pocket borough that was represented by his mother Sonia Gandhi since 2004. The BJP has fielded UP minister Dinesh Pratap Singh.
In Amethi, Union minister Smriti Irani, who had defeated Rahul Gandhi in 2019, is seeking a second term, while KL Sharma, an aide of the Gandhi family, has been fielded by the Congress.
Fifth phase polling
On Monday, polling will be held in 13 seats in Maharashtra, 14 in Uttar Pradesh, seven in West Bengal, five in Bihar, three in Jharkhand, five in Odisha and one each in J-K and Ladakh. This round covers the least number of seats (49) in the seven-phase election.
The parties also wrapped up canvassing in 35 assembly constituencies in Odisha, where BJD president and chief minister Naveen Patnaik is among the candidates.
Key candidates
Among other prominent candidates in the fifth phase of Lok Sabha polls are several Union ministers including Rajnath Singh (Lucknow, UP), Piyush Goyal (Mumbai North, Maharashtra), Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti (from Fatehpur, UP) and Shantanu Thakur (Bangaon, WB); LJP (Ram Vilas) leader Chirag Paswan (Hajipur, Bihar), Shiv Sena’s Shrikant Shinde (Kalyan, Maharashtra ), and BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy and RJD president Lalu Prasad’s daughter Rohini Acharya (both Saran, Bihar).

BJP’s corners INDIA bloc on Ram Mandir

With over 40 of these seats with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Prime Minister Narendra and other BJP leaders tried to fend off the challenge posed by the INDIA bloc parties by raising the pitch on issues of appeasement, dynastic politics, Ram temple, Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), corruption and welfare initiatives taken by his government.
“If the SP and the Congress come to power, they will send Ram Lalla back to the tent and bulldoze the temple,” Modi claimed. He also alleged that the opposition wanted to bring back Article 370.
Congress whips up emotions
On Friday, Congress leader Sonia Gandhi tried to strike an emotional chord as she said at a rally that she is giving her son to the people of Rae Bareli and “Rahul will not disappoint you”.
“My everything is all given by you. So, brothers and sisters, I am giving you my son” said Sonia Gandhi, as Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra stood by her side on the stage at the rally.
Speaking before his mother, Rahul Gandhi said the “youth across the country have made up their mind that they don’t want Narendra Modi“.
“Narendra Modi will not remain prime minister after June 4 and the INDIA coalition government will be forme,” he said.
Security beefed up Bengal
Security has been stepped up in West Bengal’s seven constituencies, with over 57 per cent of the polling stations identified as sensitive in the fifth phase, the highest till now in this election.
Over 60,000 personnel of central forces, besides around 30,000 personnel of the state police, have been deployed, which is more than in the four previous phases in the state, an official said.
High turnout expected in Kashmir
In Baramulla, former chief minister Omar Abdullah, who is among 22 candidates in the electoral contest, held a roadshow in Soibugh – a central Kashmir village that was once a hotbed of militancy- on the last day of campaigning.
Former separatist Sajad Lone, former MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid, who is currently in Delhi’s Tihar jail, and the PDP’s former Rajya Sabha member Fayaz Ahmad Mir are also contesting.
With the separatist-sponsored boycott politics a thing of past now, the people are expected to participate in the elections in large numbers to choose their leader.
Campaign continues for remaining two phases
Amid sweltering heat across the country, the campaign for the parliamentary polls continued to intensify as the final two weeks approached.
On Tuesday, the Election Commission stated that it anticipates the star campaigners, especially those from national parties, to set a positive example in the upcoming three phases of the Lok Sabha elections and avoid harming social harmony.
With the conclusion of Phase 4, polling for general elections had crossed the halfway mark as it was completed in 23 states/UTs and 379 Lok Sabha constituencies out of 543. The sixth and seventh phases are on May 25 and June 1 respectively. The counting of votes is on June 4.
(With PTI inputs)

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