A voter’s finger is marked with indelible ink after casting her vote at a polling station during the fourth phase of voting for national elections in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Lok Sabha Election 2019: A Guide To Phase 5

Going into the fifth phase of the 17th Lok Sabha election on Monday, voters from seven states will cast their ballots across 51 seats—the lowest number of Parliamentary constituencies—to choose from 674 candidates. It’s also one of the most important contests as the Gandhi mother-son duo will fight to retain their pocket boroughs.

Since the fourth phase of polling, Mumbai—the country’s financial capital—recorded the highest voter turnout in three decades at 54 percent. That compares with the overall turnout of 63.16 percent. Last week, the Election Commission gave Narendra Modi a fourth clean chit for his comments, the Vivek Oberoi-starrer Modi biopic, PM Narendra Modi, chalked out a release date and Sadhvi Pragya was barred from the campaign trail by the poll panel for 72 hours.

Also, a citizenship status led to a debate, with a plea to debar Rahul Gandhi over his alleged British nationality, while Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar had to clarify his Canadian passport.

Here are the key seats and details to watch out for in this phase:

Key Seats To Look Out For

Bihar

  • Madhubani: The constituency, which is known for its distinct art style, will see BJP’s Ashok Kumar Yadav contest independent candidate and former AICC General Secretary Shakeel Ahmad. Yadav—a three-time MLA from Keoti in Darbhanga—is the son of four-time MP and sitting parliamentarian Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav. Also in the fray is Badrinath Purve of the Vikassheel Insaaf Party, who was given a ticket based on the ‘grand alliance.’
  • Saran: Earlier known as Chapra, this constituency will see BJP’s Rajeev Pratap Rudy eyeing a second term. He will contest against Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Chandrika Rai, and a namesake of jailed RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav. Rudy had lost to Yadav in 2004 and 2009, but had won in 2014 against former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi. His contenders continue to have the Yadav link as Chandrika Rai—a six-time MLA— is the father-in-law of Yadav’s son Tej Pratap.
  • Hajipur: Eight-time MP Ram Vilas Paswan’s younger brother Pashupati Kumar Paras will represent the Lok Janshakti Party against RJD’s Shiv Chandra Ram. Sitting MP Paswan represented Hajipur from 1977-84, 1989-91 and 1996-2009.

Jharkhand

  • Ranchi: After representing the state’s capital for five terms on a BJP ticket, Ram Tahal Choudhary seeks a sixth term as an independent candidate. He will contest three-time Congress MP Subodh Kant Sahay, and BJP’s Sanjay Seth, who is the former president of the Federation of Jharkhand Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
  • Hazaribagh: BJP’s Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha seeks re-election against Congress’ Jharkhand treasurer Gopal Sahu. While the Congress has never won this seat in 35 years, Jayant Sinha’s father Yashwant Sinha, a former finance minister, held the seat from 1998-2004.

Rajasthan

  • Ganganagar: Sitting BJP MP Nihal Chand will be pitted against Congress’ Bharat Ram Meghwal. Chand was a former Minister of State (various portfolios) in the Modi administration from 2014-2016 and had won in 1996, 1999 and 2004.
  • Bikaner: It’s a battle of the Meghwals as BJP’s Arjun Ram Meghwal— the Union Minister of State in Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, and Parliamentary Affairs—will be up against his cousin Madangopal Meghwal, who is contesting on a Congress ticket. While Arjun Ram seeks a third-term in Parliament, Madangopal joined the Congress ahead of the assembly polls. The Congress had last won this seat in 1999.
  • Jaipur Rural: BJP’s Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, and Olympic medalist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore will battle Commonwealth Games medalist Krishna Poonia. While Rathore had defeated Congress’ CP Joshi in 2014 with a margin of over three lakh votes, Poonia is the sitting MLA from Sadulpur.

Also read: Election 2019: Why Congress May Win At Least 30 Seats In Hindi Heartland States

Uttar Pradesh

  • Sitapur: With his eyes on a fourth-term as an MP, Rajesh Verma will fight on a BJP ticket against BSP’s Nakul Dubey, and Congress’ Kaiser Jahan. Verma had won his first two terms in 1999 and 2004 on BSP tickets. Jahan had won the seat as a BSP aspirant in 2009 but lost to Verma in 2014 by more than 51,000 votes.
  • Lucknow: Home Minister Rajnath Singh will contest Samajwadi Party’s newest entrant and former actress Poonam Sinha, and Congress’ Acharya Pramod Krishnam. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had represented this seat from 1991 to 2009.
  • Rae Bareli: UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi is up against former Congress MLC Dinesh Pratap Singh, now a BJP candidate.
  • Amethi: Congress President Rahul Gandhi seeks a fourth term from his family bastion and will be up against Union Minister Smriti Irani. The seat has been represented by Rajiv Gandhi for four times, and Sonia Gandhi once. Although Irani lost to Gandhi in 2014, she brought down his vote share from 71.7 percent in 2009 to 46.7 percent in 2014. His victory margin, too, dropped from 3.7 lakh in 2009 to 1.1 lakh in 2014.
Sonia Gandhi’s vote share has been declining after the 2006 by-elections. While she received 80 percent ballots in 2006, it fell to 72 percent in 2009 and 63.8 percent in 2014.
  • Fatehpur: The other Sadhvi from BJP— Minister of State for Food Processing Industries Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti— will contest Congress’ Rakesh Sachan, and SP’s Sukhdev Prasad Verma. Sachan had won the 2009 election on an SP ticket.

West Bengal

  • Barrackpur: Former Railway Minister and sitting Trinamool Congress MP Dinesh Trivedi seeks a third term and will contest BJP’s Arjun Singh. The last two elections were the only instances when the TMC won this seat, for it has only seen the Left and Congress. Singh was the chairman of the Bhatpara Municipality until early April before he was removed via a secret ballot.

Also read: The Woman Standing Between Modi and a Majority

Criminal Cases

The National Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms analysed self-sworn affidavits of 668 of the total 674 candidates.

Here’s a breakup of all the candidates contesting the fifth phase:

  • National parties: 150
  • State parties: 31
  • Registered unrecognised parties: 240
  • Independent: 253

In this phase, 19 percent, or 126 candidates, have a criminal case lodged against them.

Nearly one out of every four candidates in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is a criminal.
Seven out of nine Samajwadi Party candidates are history-sheeters.
  • In this phase, 14 percent of the candidates face serious criminal charges entailing a punishment of at least five years, the survey showed. These include kidnapping, murder, rape and offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
  • The BJP has fielded 19 candidates with serious criminal charges, while 13 out of 45 Congress candidates are history-sheeters.
  • There are 18 parties in this phase that have given tickets to criminals.

Also read: Aspiring Middle Class Emerges as Key Electoral Bloc in India’s Election

Red-Alert Constituencies

  • There are 20 constituencies in this phase where three or more contesting candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.
  • Uttar Pradesh tops the list with eight out of 14 constituencies on ‘red alert’.
  • Bihar’s Madhubani constituency has eight candidates who are criminals, while seven are law offenders in Rahul Gandhi-represented Amethi.

Asset, Tax Check

The average assets held per candidate is the lowest so far in this election.

The average asset per candidate is Rs 2.57 crore in this phase.
Assets of a Samajwadi Party candidate are worth Rs 31 crore on average.
  • There are 184 candidates with assets valued at least Rs 1 crore. The average assets held by the Congress’ candidates is Rs 8 crore, while it’s Rs 6 crore for the BJP.
  • SP’s Poonam Sinha, who is contesting from Lucknow, has assets worth Rs 193 crore—almost 31,000 times the 10 candidates with lowest assets.

Also read: Here’s What India’s Modi Achieved on His Frequent Trips Abroad

  • BJP’s Hazaribagh candidate Jayant Sinha has the highest income of Rs 5 crore, as per his income tax return declaration.
  • There are 272 candidates in this phase who have declared liabilities. Congress’ Churu candidate Rafique Mandela has liabilities worth Rs 46 crore. That’s in contrast with the candidate who declared lowest assets—Dausa candidate Rinku Kumar Meena. Meena declared assets worth Rs 1,000.
  • There are three candidates who have declared zero assets.

Age, Education

  • This phase has 264 candidates, or 40 percent of the total contenders, with educational qualification between 5th grade and 12th grade.
  • More than half of the candidates are at least graduates.
  • Six candidates are illiterate, while 43 are educated enough to be deemed literate.
  • More than half of the candidates age between 41 years and 60 years, followed by aspirants in the age group of 25-40 years. There are 113 candidates who are between 61 years and 80 years of age.
Narayan Das Jatav, who is contesting from Tikamgarh, has declared his age as 4 years.
  • So far, this phase has the highest representation of women, with 12 percent, or 79 female candidates contesting.