The last phase of the Lok Sabha polls will see some fiery fights this elections. This phase will see nine seats in West Bengal - including three seats of Kolkata - go to the polls, which has been in the news due to recent political violence.
Spanning 59 seats, the phase will witness some other big fights as all of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar too find themselves in the fray. Amritsar, Indore, Chandigarh, Gorakhpur and Patna Sahib are among the prominent constituencies that will see a direct Bharatiya Janata Party-Congress contest.
However, all eyes will be on Varanasi, from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek re-election.
The seventh phase will also witness the richest candidate by assets in this election, Ramesh Kumar Sharma, an independent candidate contest from Pataliputra. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), meanwhile, has emerged as the party whose candidates have the highest average assets in this phase - standing at a staggering ₹51 crore.
BOOM utilised the report by Association for Democratic Reforms on the self-sworn affidavits by 909 out of 918 candidates, to gain insights into their demographics.
The number of self declared convicts is at 5, and includes all declared convictions ranging from one-time fines to the BJP candidate from Dhar, Madhya Pradesh - Chattar Singh Darbar - who has already served a jail term from 1981 to 2001 on charges of murder (IPC - 302).
33 of the 59 constituencies going to polls are red alert constituencies – they have 3 or more candidates with criminal cases against them.
Meanwhile, the 42% of all the candidates fielded by the BJP have declared criminal cases against themselves. 35% cases against all BJP candidates fall under ‘serious criminal charges’.
The Congress comes in second. While 31% of their candidates have criminal charges against them, 22% of their candidates have serious criminal charges against them.
ADR defines a serious criminal case as:
- Punishments of 5 years or more or if it is non-bailable
- Electoral offences (such as bribery)
- Assault, murder, kidnap or rape
- Offences mentioned under the Representation of People’s Act, 1951
- Offences of corruption, under the Prevention of Corruption Act
How Money Talks In Phase 7
As per the classifications done by ADR, which divides the asset groups of contestants into five categories, 57% of contestants fall into the lower three rungs – with declared assets of less than ₹50 lakhs. In the previous two phases, it was 55% and 61%respectively.
Punjab regional honcho and NDA member SAD has the highest assets per candidate, surpassing the Congress - which is at the second spot - by almost three times; their ₹51 crores per candidates to the Congress' ₹17 crore.
The BJP stands at ₹9 crores per candidate, with the communist parties having the least of the lot.
However, it must be noted that parties are fielding varying number of candidates.
While the Congress, BJP and the BSP are fielding 45, 43 and 39 candidates respectively, AAP is fielding 14, the TMC 11, the SAD 10 and the SP 6.
Meanwhile, Ramesh Kumar Sharma is the richest the candidate this Lok Sabha election; an independent contesting from Pataliputra in Bihar.
Phase 7 has will also witness the influx of celebrities of cinematic origin, and they find themselves among the top candidates this phase by total assets.
The Important Battles Of Phase 7
The last phase of the Lok Sabha will see some intense battles, quite prominently that too directly between the BJP and the Congress.
Probably the most watched constituency this phase, it is the one from which PM Narendra Modi will seek re-elections. This phase was recently in the news as the Congress speculated fielding Priyanka Gandhi in Varanasi. However, all murmurs of this was put to rest when the Congress announced the candidature of Ajai Rai.
Modi won this constituency by more than 50% of the vote in 2014.
This constituency has been a BJP bastion since 1991, as it has been represented by Yogi Adityanath - only to be vacated by him when he became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in 2017.
However, the Samajwadi Party's Praveen Kumar Nishad won the by-poll to this seat. In their hope to retake the seat, the BJP has fielded actor-turned-politician Ravi Kishan, who takes on Madhusudhan Tripathi of the Congress and Ram Nishad of the Samajwadi Party.
Current Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will contest against former renegade BJP MP, film star and now Congress member Shatrughan Sinha.
A seat currently being held by the Congress, the BJP is fielding current Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Hardeep Singh Puri.
This constituency is a prestige battle for the BJP since Arun Jaitley lost this seat in 2014, and is a second shot for them this time.
Firozpur and Bathinda
Two seats that will be contested by the top brass of the SAD - former Deputy CM and party president Sukhbir Singh Badal from Firzopur and the current Union Minister for Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal from Bathinda.
They will be up against a redoubtable Congress in the state which is fighting its campaign under the aegis of CM Capt. Amarinder Singh.
The incumbent MP Kirron Kher of the BJP will be up against former Minister for Railways, Pawan Kumar Bansal of the Congress from Chandigarh.
The three constituencies of Kolkata - Kolkata Dakshin, Kolkata Uttar and Dum Dum will face a four-corner fight among the BJP, the TMC, the CPI(M) and the Congress. All these seats are currently occupied by the TMC and it is in the news due to recent political pandemonium in state.
Ballot Buster – BOOM’s video coverage of Phase 7 – can be watched here.
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