More half a dozen union ministers, celebrities and newcomers who have made a big splash are among the 961 candidates contesting in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections today. This phase will see a significant number of young politicians rolling into action, making their political debut. In many cases, they are will be taking on veteran leaders - from sons of chief ministers to former student union leaders. About 12.79 crore people across nine states and 72 Lok Sabha seats are eligible to vote today. In 2014, the BJP and its allies had won 56 of these seats. Voting for the last phase will held on May 19 and the election results will be declared on May 23.
Here are the top 10 battles to watch in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha polls:
Kanhaiya Kumar vs Giriraj Singh vs Tanveer Ahmed
Kanhaiya Kumar, former JNU student union president is the CPI's candidate from Begusarai in Bihar. The 32-year-old's candidacy apparently came at the cost of a potential alliance between the Left front and LaluYadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal. Begusarai is a stronghold seat for the RJD which was not willing to yield. Lalu Yadav's party has fielded Tanvir Hasan, who lost in 2014 to the BJP's candidate by a margin of 60,000 votes. This time, the BJP has fielded Giriraj Singh, a Union Minister known for his controversial pronouncements.
Baijayant Panda vs Anubhav Mohanty
Baijayant Panda, or Jay Panda as he is known, will be contesting from the Kendrapara seat once again, but this time on a BJP ticket. The four-time parliamentarian from joined the BJP months before elections after quitting from Odisha's Biju Janata Dal last year. The BJD has fielded Rajya Sabha member and filmstar-turned politician Anubhav Mohanty against Mr Panda. "People of Kendrapara will never spare the traitor," Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had said.
Dimple Yadav vs Subrat Pathak
Dimple Yadav, a two-time lawmaker from Kannauj, will be seeking a third term this time. The seat was previously held by her husband Akhilesh Yadav, now chief of the Samajwadi Party. In 2012, after Mr Yadav went on to become Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Dimple Yadav was elected unopposed from Kannauj as major political parties decided to skip the by-election. This time, the BJP has fielded Subrat Pathak, a candidate she had defeated in 2014. However, winning the seat won't be easy for Dimple Yadav this time, since Mr Pathak is using her inaccessibility to the people of the constituency to push his case.
Salman Khurshid vs Mukesh Rajput vs Manoj Agarwal
UP's Farrukhabad is a seat which is not dominated by a single caste or religion. Former union minister and Congress leader Salman Khurshid is contesting against sitting MP and BJP leader Mukesh Rajput. The seat is locked in a three-cornered contest between Congress, BJP and the opposition alliance which has fielded BSP leader Manoj Agarwal. Muslims, though a little over 14 per cent in this constituency, could still decide the fate of this Lok Sabha seat along with the Yadavs. A division of votes will likely benefit the BJP. Another challenge for the opposition will be overcoming the "Modi factor".
Babul Supriyo vs Moon Moon Sen
Union Minister Babul Supriyo, a singer-turned-politician is up against a member of his fraternity, actor-turned-politician Moon Moon Sen in the Asansol constituency. The high-profile contest has garnered a lot of interest since Moon Moon Sen, called the "giant slayer" of Trinamool Congress, defeated nine-time Left lawmaker from Bengal's Bankura in 2014. However, even Babul Supriyo recorded a huge win in his first election in 2014 and is equally confident. Moon Moon Sen is the daughter of legendary Bengali actress Suchitra Sen.
Upendra Kushwaha vs Nityanand Rai
Rashtriya Lok Samata Party chief and former BJP ally Upendra Kushwaha will be contesting from two seats, but the Ujiarpur seat is going to a prestige battle as goes up against Bihar BJP chief Nityanand Rai. The RLSP chief quit the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and exited the BJP-led NDA in December last year, after months of airing his growing resentment with the ruling party and its seat-share deal with another ally, Nitish Kumar, for the national election. Mr Rai had won the seat in 2014 by a margin of 1.5 lakh votes. Also contesting from the seat is the CPI(M)'s Ajay Kumar.
Vaibhav Gehlot vs Gajendra Singh Shekhawat
Son of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Vaibhav will be contesting national elections for the first time from the Jodhpur seat, widely considered to be his father's home turf. He is up against Union minister and BJP candidate Gajendra Singh Shekhawat in the high-stakes electoral battle. The union minister is quite confident, since the constituency is dominated by the Rajputs, a social group considered to be a vote bank for the BJP. Mr Shekhawat defeated Congress's Chandresh Kumari by over four lakh votes in the 2014 elections and is hoping to repeat the feat in the polls on April 29.
Sakshi Maharaj vs Annu Tandon vs Pooja Pal
BJP leader Sakshi Maharaj, known for his highly controversial comments, is contesting once again from Unnao seat against the Congress candidate Annu Tandon and BSP's Pooja Pal. He had threatened his party last month before it declared him as its candidate from the constituency. Ms Tandon served as the MP from Unnao seat from 2009 to 2014 when she was defeated by Sakshi Maharaj with a massive margin.
Milind Deora vs Arvind Sawant
Congress Mumbai chief and former minister Milind Deora is contesting from Mumbai South constituency against the Shiv Sena's Arvind Sawant, who had defeated him by a margin of 1.28 lakh in 2014. Mr Deora recently received a glowing endorsement from industrialists Mukesh Ambani and Uday Kotak among others. In Mumbai-South, Congress is banking on small businessmen who they believe are still feeling the pinch of the central government's twin "shocks" of demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax through 2016-17.
Nakul Nath vs Nathan Shah Kavreti
Nakul Nath will be contesting from Madhya Pradesh's Chindwara seat, a constituency represented by his father and chief minister Kamal Nath for a record nine times since 1980. Nakul's father has held this seat since 1980 and lost only once. Nakul Nath has been promising to continue the development work started by his father in his constituency. Though the seat is Nakul Nath's family turf, he is being challenged by BJP candidate Nathan Shah Kavreti who is attempting to exploit the recent tax raids against Kamal Nath's former aides and the few infrequent appearances made by the chief minister in the constituency. Nathan Shah Kavreti has said his campaign "is a fight between the poor and the mafia who have money".