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    Heavyweights to battle it out in Gujarat, Telangana, Punjab

    April 30, 2014

    Seven States go to the polls today; Sonia and Modi in the fray


    Ahead of Wednesday's seventh phase of the Lok Sabha elections for 89 Lok Sabha seats spread across seven states and two Union Territories, the Congress exuded in confidence about returning to power and asserted that the need to support a Third Front does not arise.

    The battle for Telangana is crucial for the Congress as it gambled its stakes in Seemandhra, which voted overwhelmingly for the party in the 2009 Lok Sabha and Assembly election. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which went back on its promise of a merger with Congress after the formation of Telangana, has left the national party in a lurch. Voters will also decide who will govern the new State of Telangana that will come into existence on June 2. Telangana accounts for 17 Lok Sabha seats and Seemandhra, which votes on May 7, has 25 seats.


    In Hyderabad, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh sounded emphatic about his party’s prospects on Tuesday. “The tail cannot wag the body, the body can wag the tail,” he said, adding that the dominant political party should lead the government for greater stability and effective functioning of any coalition arrangement.


    All eyes will also be on Gujarat where all 26 Lok Sabha seats are going to polls. In 2009, the Congress had managed to win 10 seats in the state. Narendra Modi will be leading the Bharatiya Janata Party’s charge from Vadodara.


    Another key battle will be fought in the 13 constituencies going to poll in Punjab. Ground reports suggest that the ruling Akali Dal-BJP combine is facing a strong anti-incumbency factor. In Amritsar, leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, who is testing his luck for the first time in a Lok Sabha election, is pitted against former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, a formidable candidate.


    The high-profile candidates who are contesting in this phase include the Congress president Sonia Gandhi, BJP president Rajnath Singh and BJP veteran L.K. Advani. Other prominent leaders in the fray are Union Minister Farooq Abdullah from Srinagar, former BJP president Murli Manohar Joshi and Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal from Kanpur and JD(U) president Sharad Yadav from Madhepura.


    Meanwhile, in Delhi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel expressed confidence that the Congress and its allies would secure a majority and a UPA-III government will be formed. “We are confident of getting absolute majority with our allies. Why should we support a Third Front when we are getting majority? It is a hypothetical question. We are confident of scoring the third straight victory over the BJP,” he said.(TheHindu)


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