Campaigning came to a close on Friday evening for the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha polls in 59 constituencies spread across seven states on May 12. Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, Congress leader Digvijay Singh and BJP's Pragya Singh Thakur are among 968 candidates in the fray. Voting will be held in 14 seats in Uttar Pradesh, ten in Haryana, eight seats each in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, seven in Delhi and four in Jharkhand.
Bharatiya Janata Party had won 44 of the 59 in the last general elections. In UP's Sultanpur, BJP has fielded Maneka Gandhi instead of her son and sitting MP Varun Gandhi who won in 2014 by a margin of over one lakh votes. She is contesting against BSP candidate Chandra Bhadra Singh and Congress' Dr Sanjay Sinh. Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is in the race from the Azamgarh Lok Sabha seat, currently represented by his father Mulayam Singh Yadav.
He is pitted against BJP's Nirahua, a Bhojpuri star, while Congress has not fielded any candidate against him. Madhya Pradesh is expected to witness a tough battle on the eight constituencies including Bhopal and Guna. BJP has fielded terror-accused Pragya Singh Thakur against former state chief minister Digvijay Singh in Bhopal. Congress general secretary in-charge western Uttar Pradesh Jyotiraditya Scindia is seeking another term from Guna, which he has been representing in Lok Sabha since 2002.
Scindia, who had won in 2014 by over one lakh votes, will face BJP's KP Yadav. In Bihar, Valmiki Nagar, Paschim Champaran, Purvi Champaran, Sheohar, Vaishali, Gopalganj, Siwan and Maharajganj constituencies will go to polls. Among the seven seats in the national capital, the contest in the North-East Delhi, East Delhi and South Delhi seats is being keenly watched. In 2014, BJP had swept all the seats. In North-East Delhi, Congress has fielded former chief minister Sheila Dikshit against BJP's sitting MP Manoj Tiwari while in East Delhi, former cricketer and BJP candidate Gautam Gambhir is facing AAP's Atishi and three-time Congress MLA Arvinder Singh Lovely.
Congress' Vijender Singh, BJP's sitting MP Ramesh Bidhuri and AAP leader Raghav Chadha are in the fray from South Delhi seat. Haryana will witness single-phase polling on 10 parliamentary constituencies on May 12. BJP had registered landslide victory on seven Lok Sabha seats in Haryana in 2014. The first five phases of the elections were held on April 11, 18, 23, 29 and May 6. After the sixth phase on May 12, the voting for the seventh and last phase will take place on May 19. Counting of votes is scheduled on May 23.
(With inputs from agencies.)