Akhilesh Yadav To Asaduddin Owaisi: Big Names Taking Poll Test In Phase 4

Among candidates for the phase 4 of Lok Sabha polls are several heavyweights whose poll performance will be watched closely across the country.

Akhilesh Yadav To Asaduddin Owaisi: Big Names Taking Poll Test In Phase 4

Akhilesh Yadav, Samajwadi Party president, back into the parliamentary election arena this time

New Delhi:

A total of 1717 candidates are contesting in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha polls today, when 96 seats across 10 states and Union Territories are going to polls. Among these candidates are several heavyweights whose poll performance will be watched closely across the country.

Here's a look at some of the big faces in this phase

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Akhilesh Yadav

The Samajwadi Party president and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister is back into the parliamentary election arena this time from Kannauj, a seat he represented for 12 years -- from 2000-2012. Held by Samajwadi Party for over two decades, Kannauj fell to the BJP in the 2019 election, when Subrat Pathak defeated sitting MP and Mr Yadav's wife Dimple Yadav by a slim margin of less than 13,000 votes. The BJP has retained Mr Pathak as their candidate this time.

The Kannauj battle is a prestige fight for Samajwadi Party as Mr Yadav pushes to win back the family stronghold once represented by his late father Mulayam Singh Yadav. The BSP has named Imran Bin Zafar as its candidate from Kannauj, but it is likely to be a straight fight between the Samajwadi Party and the BJP.

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Mahua Moitra

The firebrand Trinamool Congress leader, who was expelled as an MP last December in the cash-for-query case, is contesting again from West Bengal's Krishnanagar, which elected her in the 2019 election. The seat has been with the Trinamool Congress since 2009. The BJP has fielded Amrita Roy, a member of Krishnanagar's erstwhile royal family. Ms Roy joined the BJP in March this year. She made national headlines when Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to her over the telephone late in March.

The Trinamool has said Raja Krishnachandra, once Krishnanagar's king, "conspired with Mir Jafar, Jagat Seth and Umi Chand and sold himself out to the British like a spineless traitor". The ruling party has said "'Rajmata' Amrita Roy, his family member, has shamelessly embraced the Bangla-birodhi BJP, sealing a pact to once again deceive the people of Bengal".

During the phone call with the Prime Minister, Ms Roy said the Trinamool is calling her family "traitor" and added that Krishnachandra Roy worked for people and joined hands with other kings of the time to save "Sanatan Dharma". The CPM has fielded SM Saadi, a former MLA, as its candidate.

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Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury

Of the eight West Bengal seats going to polls in the third phase is Baharampur, the fort of Congress leader in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. A five-time MP from the seat, Mr Chowdhury is known to hold considerable clout in the north Bengal constituency. This time, he is up against the BJP's Nirmal Kumar Saha and Trinamool's pick, former cricketer Yusuf Pathan. Of the seven Assembly segments that are part of the Lok Sabha seat, six are with the Trinamool Congress and the ruling party in Bengal will be trying hard to unseat Mr Chowdhury, among the most-vocal critics of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

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Asaduddin Owaisi

The four-time MP from Hyderabad, AIMIM's Asaduddin Owaisi, is contesting from his family stronghold Hyderabad, which was represented by his father Salahuddin Owaisi for two decades, from 1984-2004. While the Congress and the Bharat Rashtra Samithi have fielded Mohammad Waliullah Sameer and Gaddam Srinivas Yadav from the seat, Mr Owaisi's most-talked-about opponent is the BJP's Kompella Madhavi Latha. A prominent Hindutva face, Madhavi Latha is a cultural activist who actively campaigned against the now-outlawed practice of triple talaq. She is the chairperson of Virinchi Hospitals and also a professional Bharatanatyam dancer.

In the run-up to the polls, Ms Madhavi Latha was at a centre of a controversy over a viral video in which she is seen pretending to fire an arrow in the direction of a mosque. Amid heavy criticism, including from Asaduddin Owaisi, the BJP candidate offered an apology "if anyone's feelings are hurt", but claimed the video is "incomplete".

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Giriraj Singh

The firebrand leader and Union Minister known to make headlines with his controversial statements is contesting from Bihar's Begusarai, which he won in the 2019 election. Earlier, he has represented Nawada in Lok Sabha and has also served as a minister in the Bihar government and a member of the state legislative council. Begusarai has been with by the BJP since 2014. In the 2019 election, Mr Singh had defeated former JNU students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar -- then with CPI and now with Congress -- by a margin of over 4 lakh votes. This time, he is up against INDIA bloc candidate, CPI's Awadesh Kumar Rai. The Congress and the RJD have decided to back the CPI pick in his tall fight against Giriraj Singh. Currently, the minister for rural development and panchayati raj at the Centre, Mr Singh has served as a Union Minister since the Narendra Modi government took over at the Centre in 2014.

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YS Sharmila

The Andhra Pradesh Congress president, who is also the sister of Chief Minister and YSRCP chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, is contesting from Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh, represented in the past by her father and former Chief Minister, late YS Rajasekhar Reddy, and her uncle, late YS Vivekananda Reddy. The seat has also been represented by Jagan Mohan Reddy and was won by his party in the last two general elections.

YS Sharmila is up against her cousin and YSCRP leader YS Avinash Reddy, who won the Kadapa seat in 2014 and 2019. The N Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party has fielded Chadipiralla Bhupesh Subbarami Reddy in Kadapa.