Heavyweights 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, BJP chief Amit Shah and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi are some of the political heavyweights contesting the national elections.

PM Modi is seeking a second term from Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi, a seat that he won by a huge margin in 2014. PM Modi, who is banking on his development agenda, has been challenged by Congress's Ajay Rai and gathbandan candidate Shalini Yadav.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, who has been trying to bring together the opposition parties against the ruling BJP, contested from two seats this time. In UP's Amethi, a seat that he has represented since 2004, he has been challenged once again by Union Minister Smriti Irani. Mr Gandhi, for the first time, has chosen to contest from a constituency in south India - Kerala's Wayanad. His mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi contested again from UP's Raebareli, a Congress stronghold. She has been winning the parliamentary seat since 2004.

BJP chief Amit Shah is the party's candidate from Gandhinagar in Gujarat. He replaced party veteran LK Advani. The ruling party's decision to replace the senior leader had sparked a controversy triggering attack from the opposition.

Union Minister Rajnath Singh, contesting from Lucknow, is locked in a three-cornered fight with the gathbandan candidate Poonam Sinha, actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha's wife, and Congress's Acharya Pramod Krishnam, a spiritual guru. In 2014, Rajnath Singh won the seat by a margin of 5,61,196 votes.

Other key candidates who made a debut this election are actors Urmila Matondkar and Sunny Deol. While Urmila Matondar is Congress's candidate from Mumbai North against BJP's sitting lawmaker Gopal Shetty, Sunny Deol is BJP's pick from Punjab's Gurdaspur against state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar.

The seven-phased national elections to elect the 17th Lok Sabha were held between April 11 and May 19.
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