NEW DELHI: Monday will mark another test of the saffron camp’s resilience, given that BJP and its partners won 56 of the 72 poll-bound seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. With the fourth phase, the polls enter the crucial states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh where Congress made a comeback last December and hopes to maintain the momentum. Also of critical importance will be voting in 17 seats in Maharashtra where elections end on Monday. BJP has managed to retrieve its alliance with Shiv Sena and its performance will have a key bearing on its total tally. In Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, Congress and BJP are locked in a keen battle, with the assembly results having gone down to the wire. Despite its losses, BJP is banking on a campaign centred around Prime Minister Narendra Modi to dominate these states while Congress is looking to tap its rejuvenated organisational presence and pro-poor promises. Lok Sabha elections phase 4 live updates The 13 constituencies of Rajasthan will kickstart the clash for its prized 25 seats. Add to it 13 seats of UP and six of MP, and the fourth phase seems the most decisive of the 2019 contest in which BJP is seeking a return mandate against Congress and an array of regional parties who have vowed to come together after the polls to form a “secular” government. Barring Kannauj in UP and Chhindwara in MP, BJP and allies had won all 47 LS segments in these four states. If the challenge for BJP is to retain its massive 2014 tally, it is faced with a serious dare from the SP-BSP-RLD combine that is seeking to bring together the dominant sections of the backward classes into a voting compact in UP. The state accounts for 80 seats where BJP and allies hold 73. The 14-seat Jharkhand will also start its LS clash with polling in three seats on Monday. The opposition has a tough job on its hands too. The question remains, if Congress and NCP have managed to mount a serious resistance to BJP-Shiv Sena in Maharashtra where the latter won 42 of 48 seats the last time. In Rajasthan, it is to be seen if Congress can carry forward the December 2018 assembly victory over BJP and secure a big chunk of the 25 seats in the desert state where it drew a blank in 2014. Congress also formed the government in MP in December and hopes to make it count nationally. For BJP, the potential gains lie in the east. It has bet big on West Bengal and Odisha in the hope of offsetting losses in the other regions. Eight seats in Bengal and the last six of Odisha’s 21 seats in the fourth phase have filled BJP with anticipation. In Video:Lok Sabha polls 2019: Voting in phase four begins in 72 constituencies across nine states#ElectionsWithTimes
Source