Lok Sabha Election 2024 1st Phase Voting: Top 10 Contests In Phase 1 Of Polls That Would Get The Most Attention

Elections 2024: Among the contestants are ministers, senior leaders and multiple winners out to defend their territory. There are issues at stake also, including tribal rights, and Article 370.

Lok Sabha Election 2024 1st Phase Voting: Top 10 Contests In Phase 1 Of Polls That Would Get The Most Attention

Lok Sabha Polls: Voting in 102 seats, 21 states, UTs today (Representational)

New Delhi:

The Lok Sabha election begins today with a scintillating first phase that would see voting in 102 seats across 21 states and Union Territories. Among the contestants are ministers, senior leaders and multiple winners out to defend their territory. There are issues at stake also, including tribal rights,  and Article 370.

Here are the Top 10 contests that would grab eyeballs:

Bikaner, Rajasthan

Rajasthan's Bikaner, once a Congress stronghold, has become a BJP bastion since 2004. Tomorrow, the sitting MP, the BJP's Arjun Ram Meghwal will contest against Congress's Govind Ram Meghwal for the fourth time. This is a fight where the Congress is hoping for a win this time. The BJP MP has won the seat four times in a row since 2009. Arjun Ram Meghwal was part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet also, while the Congress candidate is a former state minister.

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Chennai Central, Tamil Nadu

Chennai Central, one of Tamil Nadu's 39 constituencies, has been a DMK stronghold, which will be defended by incumbent Dayanidhi Maran. The former union minister is being challenged by the BJP's state president Vinoj P. Selvam. The BJP candidate had lost to the DMK's PK Sekhar Babu in the Harbour Assembly constituency in 2021.

Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh

Chhindwara is the only Congress bastion still standing in Madhya Pradesh. The seat has been the pocketborough of Kamal Nath's family for 44 years. This time, Kamal Nath's son Nakul Nath is defending his father's seat against BJP challenger Vivek Bunty Sahu. The BJP, determined to take over Chhindwara, has deployed its heavy weights to campaign for its candidate. Chief Minister Mohan Yadav has campaigned for Mr Sahu six times from this seat in the Mahakoshal region.

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Dibrugarh, Assam

Dibrugarh, one of Assam's 14 constituencies, will witness a high-profile battle between former Union minister and Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Asom Jatiya Parishad's Lurinjyoti Gogoi, who is part of the INDIA bloc.  Mr Sonowal has won from this constituency once as a candidate of the Asom Gana Parishad. For the last two terms the constituency has been represented by Rameswar Teli, a member of the tribal community that forms a chunk of the electorate. Neither candidate this time belongs to the community, making for an interesting fight. The candidate belonging to the tea tribe in this triangular contest is Aam Aadmi Party's Manoj Dhanowar, who is likely to eat into the votes of the AJP candidate.

Jamui, Bihar

Jamui, one of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, is expected to see a straight fight between Rashtriya Janata Dal's Archana Ravidass, who is up against NDA's Arun Bharti. Mr Bharti is the brother-in-law of Lok Janshakti Party chief Chirag Paswan, who won the seat last time.  Both are first-time candidates and the battle is expected to be tough, with Ms Ravidass being the wife of local RJD leader Mukesh Yadav.

Jorhat, Assam

Jorhat, of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam, is expected to be the most keenly watched with three-time Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's son Gaurav Gogoi attempting to snatch back this erstwhile Congress bastion from the BJP. For both parties, it is a prestige battle. Jorhat was the place from where Tarun Gogoi won twice in the 1970s. From 1991 to 2014, the seat belonged to Congress's Bijoy Krishna Handique, a six-time legislator, till it was wrested by the BJP in 2014. Gaurav Gogoi's opponent is sitting MP Topon Kumar Gogoi, in whose campaign Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is taking a personal interest. Gaurav Gogoi, the Congress's Deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, a two-time MP from Kaliabor, had to shift to Jorhat after delimitation.

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Nagaur, Rajasthan

Nagaur, one of Rajasthan's 25 Lok Sabha seats, is going to be the other closely-watched contest in the desert state, and is expected to settle the question of whether voters look at the party or candidate while casting the ballot. Both candidates have changed sides over the last years. Jyoti Mirdha, who won the seat for the Congress in 2009, is now with the BJP. Rashtriya Loktantrik Party chief Hanuman Beniwal, who won the 2019 contest for the NDA, is now part of the INDIA bloc.

Nagpur, Maharashtra

Maharashtra's Nagpur, one of the state's 48 constituencies under which the headquarters of the BJP's ideological mentor, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is located, switched support to the party in 2014 after decades of voting for Congress. Union minister and BJP heavyweight Nitin Gadkari had stormed the seat, defeating Congress's seven-time MP Vilas Muttemwar by a margin of nearly 3 lakh votes. The Grand Old Party's efforts to wrest the seat failed in 2019, when the current state Congress chief Nana Patole was the candidate. Mr Gadkari, a two-time winner is all set to defend the seat a third time. The Congress is banking on Vikas Thakre, a former Mayor of the city and sitting MLA of Nagpur West.

Tura, Meghalaya

Meghalaya's Tura is all set for a scintillating three-corner contest between the ruling National People's Party, a BJP ally, and the Congress. Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress, which is officially part of the INDIA bloc, has also fielded a candidate – a move that's expected to eat into the Congress votes. The candidate of the ruling NPP is the sitting legislator Agatha Sangma.  Meghalaya accounts for two of  the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the northeast. Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma – the BJP's pointsperson in the northeast – has predicted the NDA will win at least 22 of the 25 seats.

Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir

Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir is expected to be he acid test for the BJP claims of development following the revocation of Article 370 that gave the erstwhile state its special status. While Article 370 is the dominant issue in Kashmir Valley, Udhampur in Jammu region is dominated by Rajputs. As in Kashmir, Article 370 is a issue here but issues like unemployment and development are crucial for the Hindu-majority area. The battle is expected to be tough, with Congress's Choudhury Lal Singh challenging two-time winner and Union minister Jitendra Singh. Ghulam Nabi Azad's DPAP (Democratic Progressive Azad Party) has fielded former J&K Minister GM Saroori, making for a triangular contest.