Stage set for Karnataka battle, BJP keen to open account in Kerala


Several opposition parties have come together to form the INDIA bloc to put up common candidates against the BJP…reports Asian Lite News

The stage is set for a high-octane political battle in the southern state of Kerala and Karnataka as prominent leaders from main political parties like Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, V Muraleedharan, KC Venugopal, Annie Raja, Tejasvi Surya, DK Suresh, K Surendran and HD Kumaraswamy, entered the fray for the Lok Sabha Elections in phase 2 on April 26.

Kerala will decide the fate of 194 candidates as polling on all 20 parliamentary constituencies will be held in the second phase on Friday – Kasaragod, Kannur, Vatakara, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Ponnani, Palakkad, Alathur, Thrissur, Chalakudy, Ernakulam, Idukki, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Mavelikkara, Pathanamthitta, Kollam, Attingal, Thiruvananthapuram

Karnataka, which contributes 28 seats in 543-member Parliament, will witness polling in two phases in which voting will be held on 14 seats tomorrow – Udupi Chikamagalur, Hassan, Dakshina Kannada, Chitradurga, Tumkur, Mandya, Mysore, Chamarajanagar, Bangalore Rural, Bangalore North, Bangalore Central, Bangalore South, Chikballapur, Kolar.

The bypoll will be held in Surpur (Shorapur) constituency located in the Yadgir district.

Several opposition parties have come together to form the INDIA bloc to put up common candidates against the BJP.

India will go for the second phase of Lok Sabha elections tomorrow in a high-stakes battle across 13 States and Union Territories with the campaign marked by sharp jibes by the leaders of BJP as also by Congress and other opposition parties.

The second phase of polling was to be held on 89 seats but it has been deferred to May 7 in Betul in Madhya Pradesh due to the death of a BSP candidate.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is re-contesting from Kerala’s Wayanad. In Thiruvananthapuram, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor is seeking a fourth successive term. DK Suresh from Bangalore Rural, and Tejasvi Surya from Bangalore South.

According to the Election Commission, Kerala has over 2.75 crore voters. In Kerala, a total of 194 candidates across 20 Lok Sabha seats are competing for voters’ support as the state heads to the polls on Friday.

Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Electoral Officer Sanjay Kaul said that 25,231 polling booths which are ready to welcome all the voters tomorrow morning at 7 am.

“We have 25,231 polling booths which are ready to welcome all the voters tomorrow morning at 7 am. 70% of the polling parties have reached the booths today… We have made elaborate arrangements for the comfort of the voters who come there. There will be an orderly queue management system. We will have volunteers managing the queues. There will be separate queues for elderly people. There is drinking water and toilet facilities. For our friends who are physically challenged, we have ramps on all the booths. We have wheelchairs. We expect it to be a little warm tomorrow, we have shaded areas wherever the booths do not have permanent shaded structures… We are ready as far as security is concerned. Police forces also have been deployed… There are about 1700 vulnerable and critical booths spread across all the statistics in the state… Vulnerable and critical booths, we have special facilities… We have the cameras both inside and outside the booth… We have central parametric forces deployed,” he said.

Of the 20 constituencies in Kerala going to polls, two seats -Alathur and Mavelikara- are reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) candidates.

The key candidates in Kerala are, Wayanad: Congress leader and sitting MP Rahul Gandhi is recontesting against Annie Raja of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Both of them are part of the national INDIA alliance but are rivals in Kerala. Congress has been winning in Wayanad since 2009 general elections. BJP, which is yet to open its account in the state, has fielded its state president K Surendran in the constituency, Thiruvananthapuram: Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor won this seat in the 2009, 2014 and 2019 general elections. The former UN diplomat is contesting against BJP leader and Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar and CPI’s Pannyan Raveendran, Thrissur: K Muraleedharan of Congress is pitted against VS Sunil Kumar of CPI and actor-turned-politician Suresh Gopi of BJP, Attingal: Sitting MP Adoor Prakash of Congress is contesting against V Joy of CPM and V Muraleedharan of BJP.

Pathanamthitta: Congress’ Anto Antony is competing against Thomas Issac from the CPI(M) and Anil K Antony of the BJP, Kannur: Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chief K Sudhakaran is contesting against CPI(M)’s MV Jayarajan and NDA candidate C Raghunath, who had joined the BJP from Congress, Kozhikode: Congress’ MK Raghavan, the UDF candidate, is running against CPI(M)’s Elamaram Kareemm, the LDF candidate, and BJP’s MT Ramesh.

Kottayam: Thushar Vellappalli from Bharath Dharma Jana Sena is contesting against K Francis George of Kerala Congress and Thomas Chazhikadan of Kerala Congress (M), Alappuzha: KC Venugopal from Congress, Shobha Surendran from Bharatiya Janata Party and AM Ariff from Communist Party of India (Marxist) are in the fray. Ariff is the sitting MP from the seat.

In 2019, the Congress party registered victory on 19 out of the 20 seats while CPI-M could only win one seat. The BJP failed to open its account.

Karnataka, saw the BJP securing 25 seats out of 28 seats in the 2019 elections. This time, the BJP is contesting in 25 seats, with its state ally JDS vying for the remaining 3 seats. The three constituencies contested by JDS are part of the second phase – Hassan, Mandya, and Kolar.

Bangalore South and Mysuru stand as other pivotal constituencies going to the polls on April 26.

The key candidates in Karnataka are Mandya: Former Chief Minister and JD(S)’ HD Kumaraswamy is pitted against Congress’s Venkataramane Gowda (Star Chandru), Mysuru: BJP’s Yaduveer Wadiyar is contested against Congress’s M Lakshman, Bengaluru Rural: Sitting MP Congress’ DK Suresh is pitted against BJP’s Cholenahalli Nanjappa Manjunath, son-in-law of former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, Bengaluru North: BJP’s Shobha Karandlaje is contesting against Congress’ MV Rajeev Gowda, Bengaluru Central: BJP’s PC Mohan is contesting against Congress’ Mansoor Ali Khan and Bengaluru South: Sitting MP Tejasvi Surva is pitted against Congress candidate Sowmya Reddy.

The election campaigning centred around various issues, including the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), allegations of ‘love jihad'(Murder of Congress corporator’s daughter Neha Hiremath in Hubballi), controversies surrounding the movie ‘The Kerala Story’, the Manipur violence incident and Rahul Gandhi’s candidature in Wayanad against Annie Raja.

Moreover, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar exuded confidence in the Bharatiya Janata Party “picking up many more” seats in the southern States in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

Jaishankar asserted that a “new level of energy and enthusiasm” is seen across South India.

“I think what you are seeing in South India is really a very new level of energy and enthusiasm. I could see that in Telangana, where I was, but in other southern states as well. So I think there’s a genuine possibility, a serious possibility this time that the BJP would actually pick up many more seats in all the southern states,” Jaishankar said.

Jaishankar earlier on Wednesday campaigned for BJP’s candidate from Telangana’s Bhuvanagiri Lok Sabha seat.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed confidence that the BJP’s vote share in the South would increase this time compared to the previous parliamentary polls.

In an interview with Asianet News Network on April 21, PM Modi said, “You see Telangana, where our vote share has doubled. In the 2019 parliamentary elections, the BJP emerged as the single largest party in the South. The BJP has the highest number of MPs. I believe that in 2024 (the Lok Sabha elections), the vote share is going to increase compared to the previous elections. Seats will also increase.”

The second phase has 88 Lok Sabha constituencies including all 20 seats in Kerala, 14 in Karnataka, 13 in Rajasthan, eight in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, five each in Assam and Bihar, six in Madhya Pradesh, three each in Chhattisgarh and West Bengal and one each in Tripura, Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir.

Voting will begin at 7 am tomorrow and will conclude at 6 pm. The Lok Sabha election is being held in seven phases till June 1 and votes will be counted on June 4.

The first phase of voting for the seven-phased Lok Sabha election, the world’s largest electoral exercise, was held on April 19 in 102 constituencies across 21 states and UTs. According to the Election Commission, the voter turnout registered was over 62 per cent. The third phase election will be held on May 7. (ANI)

ALSO READ-Blistering two-month campaign comes to a close in Kerala

[mc4wp_form id=""]