4-Time MP, Expelled MP And Ex-Cricketer: Phase 4's Key Battles

Today is the halfway mark of the Lok Sabha elections in terms of the number of phases.

4-Time MP, Expelled MP And Ex-Cricketer: Phase 4's Key Battles

Asaduddin Owaisi has held the Hyderabad Lok Sabah constituency since 2004.

Another 96 seats will go to the polls today as the Lok Sabha elections reach their halfway mark in terms of the number of phases -  three stages of polling have been completed and three more will be left after today. Voters will decide the fate of candidates in 10 states, including all 17 seats in Telangana. Andhra Pradesh will also see voting on all 25 of its Lok Sabha constituencies as well as 175 Assembly seats. Assembly elections will begin in Odisha too.

Here's a look at some of the key contests:

Asaduddin Owaisi vs Madhavi Latha, Hyderabad

With a four-time sitting MP who is still considered popular contesting again, the electoral battle for Hyderabad would ordinarily not have received much attention. But the heated rhetoric and even theatrics, exemplified by the BJP candidate's alleged gesture of shooting an imaginary arrow towards a mosque - which has led to a case being filed against her - has made the contest the talk of the town.

In one corner of the ring is All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi, who has been the MP from the constituency since 2004, and has been increasing the margin of victory each time. He won with a margin of just over 1 lakh votes in 2004, which went up to over 2.8 lakh in the last general elections. Another thing working in his favour is that the Hyderabad constituency is a family stronghold and was held by Mr Owaisi's father Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi since 1984.

In the other corner is Madhavi Latha, chairperson of the Virinchi Hospitals chain. Though she is new to politics, the BJP is banking on her Hindutva credentials, experience as a social activist and its strong organisational base to help her win the constituency. 

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury vs Yusuf Pathan, Baharampur

The Baharampur constituency is one of only two that the Congress had won in West Bengal in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections with the remaining 40 being split between the Trinamool (22) and the BJP (18). This time, the Trinamool Congress has fielded former cricketer Yusuf Pathan against Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the Congress' Leader in the Lok Sabha.

Mr Chowdhury has been the MP from Baharampur since 1999 and the Congress is fighting the polls in an alliance with the Left Front. The Congress and the Left Front are also part of the INDIA bloc at the Centre, as is the Trinamool Congress, which is, however, contesting on its own in West Bengal. Despite the alliance, Mr Chowdhury is one of the fiercest critics of the Trinamool Congress and its chairperson and Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. The constituency is, thus, witnessing a prestige battle.

Yusuf Pathan is making his electoral debut and his brother Irfan Pathan, one of India's former ace pacers, also campaigned for him. The BJP has fielded Nirmal Kumar Saha, a local surgeon.

Mahua Moitra vs Amrita Roy, Krishnanagar

Two high-profile women candidates are battling it out in the Krishnanagar constituency in West Bengal. The Trinamool Congress has backed Mahua Moitra, who was one of the loudest voices against the BJP in the Lok Sabha but was expelled in December last year after being accused of accepting bribes from businessman Darshan Hiranandani to ask questions in Parliament. 

She had denied all the allegations and the Trinamool Congress, after initially maintaining silence, came out in her support and party chief Mamata Banerjee called her expulsion a "murder of democracy". Ms Banerjee also held up Ms Moitra's hand at a rally in support of her earlier this month and a video in which the two leaders were seen dancing had also gone viral.

Ms Moitra, who had won against the BJP's Kalyan Chaubey by a margin of 60,000 votes last time, is being challenged by Amrita Roy, a member of Krishnanagar's royal family. People in Krishnanagar still have an emotional connection with the royal family and Ms Roy is affectionately called Rajmata. The BJP's decision to field her was seen as a surprise but she has emerged as a formidable challenger. 

The CPM candidate is SM Saadi and he may hurt Ms Moitra's prospects if he cuts into the Muslim vote. Muslims account for 26.76% of the constituency's population.

Akhilesh Yadav vs Subrat Pathak, Kannauj

With the BJP looking to better its figure of 62 out of 80 constituencies that it had won in 2019, all eyes have been on Uttar Pradesh, parts of which have been voting in every phase of the election. Countering the BJP is the Samajwadi Party, which has tied up with INDIA ally Congress this time, and is fighting 63 seats.

The Samajwadi Party chief, Akhilesh Yadav, is contesting from the party bastion of Kannauj at the insistence of party workers and the candidate who had been named - Mr Yadav's nephew Tej Pratap Yadav - had been replaced at the last minute. Kannauj had been won by SP candidates since 1998 but the fortress had been breached by the BJP's Subrat Pathak in 2019, who had defeated Akhilesh Yadav's wife, Dimple Yadav by a margin of about 12,000 votes. 

Kannauj was held by Mr Yadav thrice and his father, and Samajwadi Party founder, Mulayam Singh Yadav, had also been an MP from the seat, making winning it all the more important for the SP chief. 

Subrat Pathak, who is the BJP candidate from the seat again, has compared his contest with Mr Yadav to an India-Pakistan match and said that it will be an interesting one.