Congress faces an uphill task in penultimate round
With nearly half of the 64 seats that go to polls in the penultimate round of the Lok Sabha elections on Wednesday, Congress appears to have an uphill task to perform when the whole of Seemandhra and parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal cast their vote.
Conversely its main rival BJP, which currently has only five seats in Wednesday’s round, may have everything to gain if it improves its performance in heartland UP and Bihar and Uttarakhand.
The fate of 1,737 candidates, including Rahul Gandhi (Amethi), his cousin Varun (Sultanpur), Union minister Beni Prasad Verma (Gonda), cricketer-turned-politician Mohammad Kaif (Phulpur-all in UP), Ram Vilas Paswan (Hajipur), Rabri Devi and Rajiv Pratap Rudy (Saran-all in Bihar) is in the hands of 18.47 crore voters who are eligible to cast their franchise.
Elections will also be held on Wednesday in Mandi in Himachal Pradesh where Pratibha, wife of chief minister Virbhadra Singh, is contesting while Anurag Thakur, sitting MP and son of former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal, is the candidate in Hamirpur.
Seemandhra, comprising the areas of Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra accounting for 25 seats will vote tomorrow for both Lok Sabha and assembly. In the last two parliamentary elections, Congress had done exceedingly well and had contributed overwhelmingly to the making of the UPA government at the Centre.
In 2009, the Congress had won 19 of the 25 seats in the region. It had also formed the government in Andhra Pradesh on both the occasions.
The demise of strongman YS Rajashekhar Reddy shortly after the 2009 elections and the split in the party effected by his son
YS Jaganmohan Reddy coupled with politics over division of the state have combined to pose big hurdles for the party in the current elections.
Besides, Andhra Pradesh, elections will be held in seven Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar, 15 in UP, six in West Bengal, five in Uttarakhand, four in Himachal Pradesh and two in Jammu and Kashmir.