Big Faces Contesting In Phase 1 Tomorrow

Nitin Gadkari To K Kanimozhi: Big Faces Contesting In Phase 1 Today

102 seats in 21 states and Union Territories are going to polls in the first phase

New Delhi:

A total of 102 seats across 21 states and Union Territories are going to polls in the first phase of Lok Sabha election today. These include all the 39 seats in politically significant Tamil Nadu and several in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Maharashtra. 

Here are some of the prominent leaders contesting in this phase: 

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Nitin Gadkari (BJP): Nagpur

The country’s longest serving minister for road transport and highways, Nitin Gadkari is eyeing a hat-trick from Nagpur, which sent him to Lok Sabha in 2014 and 2019. Mr Gadkari’s work in expanding India’s road connectivity has drawn praise even from his political rivals. A former BJP national president, Mr Gadkari faces Congress’s Vikas Thakre in the high-profile seat. Mr Thakre is a former Nagpur mayor and sitting MLA from Nagpur West.

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Kiren Rijiju (BJP): Arunachal West

Union Minister Kiren Rijiju is the BJP’s candidate from Arunachal West, a seat he won in the 2014 and 2019 general elections. A former Law Minister, he currently holds the Earth Sciences and Food Processing Industries portfolios. Challenging him in Arunachal West this time is former Chief Minister and Congress candidate Nabam Tuki.

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K Annamalai, BJP, Coimbatore

Among BJP’s most-watched candidates in this Lok Sabha election, K Annamalai is the party’s Tamil Nadu unit chief and has gained significant popularity through his articulation of the party’s stand on key issues. A former IPS officer, the 39-year-old quit the service in 2019 before his plunge in politics. An engineering graduate, he also holds an MBA from IIM-Lucknow. The DMK has fielded Ganapathi P Rajkumar to take on Mr Annamalai in Coimbatore. A former mayor of the city, Mr Rajkumar was earlier with AIADMK. He holds degrees in Arts and Law and a doctorate in journalism and mass communication.

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Gaurav Gogoi, Congress, Jorhat

Among Congress’s prominent young faces, Gaurav Gogoi is a two-time MP from Assam’s Kaliabor and managed to win despite a BJP wave in the 2014 and 2019 polls. This time, he is contesting from Jorhat after the Kaliabor seat ceased to exist following delimitation. Once a Congress bastion, Jorhat was won by the BJP in the last two Lok Sabha elections. In fact, Mr Gogoi’s father and Assam’s former Chief Minister, late Tarun Gogoi, has also represented the seat twice. The BJP has retained its sitting MP, Topon Kumar Gogoi, in Jorhat.

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Tamilisai Soundararajan, BJP, Chennai South

A BJP veteran who has served as its Tamil Nadu chief, Ms Soundararajan was named Telangana Governor in 2019 and also held the additional charge of Puducherry Lieutenant Governor. With the BJP pushing hard to emerge as a formidable force in Tamil Nadu, she has been brought back to the poll arena. A doctor by qualification, Ms Soundararajan has also taught in a Chennai medical college before her full-time stint in politics. She is up against sitting MP and DMK candidate Thamizhachi Thangapandian.

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Nakul Nath, Congress, Chhindwara

Sitting MP from Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh, Nakul Nath is eyeing another win this time. The son of Congress veteran Kamal Nath, he is a businessman and among the richest MPs in the country. The Chhindwara seat has been represented as many as nine times by his father, who is campaigning extensively for him. The BJP has fielded Vivek Sahu to take on Mr Nath in the Congress stronghold. A prestige battle, the BJP is pushing hard to clinch Chhindwara this time.

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K Kanimozhi, DMK, Thoothukkudi

A two-time Rajya Sabha MP, Ms Kanimozhi was elected to Lok Sabha in 2019. Among the most prominent voices of the Opposition in Parliament, she is also DMK’s key face in the national capital. In her maiden Lok Sabha contest, she had won the 2019 election with a margin of over 3 lakh votes, with the BJP’s Tamilisai Soundararajan finishing second. DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin’s half-sister, Ms Kanimozhi is up against the AIADMK’s Sivasamy Velumani and SDR Vijayaseelan, the Tamil Manila Congress candidate backed by BJP.

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Sarbananda Sonowal, BJP, Dibrugarh

Twenty years after he won the Dibrugarh Lok Sabha seat as an Asom Gana Parishad candidate, Sarbananda Sonowal is back, this time as the BJP’s poll pick. A Union Minister and a former Assam Chief Minister, Mr Sonowal is a sitting Rajya Sabha MP. He is up against Assam Jatiya Parishad’s Lurinjyoti Gogoi, who is backed by the INDIA bloc parties. Mr Gogoi, a prominent face of the anti-CAA agitation in Assam, started his political career as a student leader with All Assam Students’ Union, like his heavyweight opponent Mr Sonowal.

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Jitin Prasada, BJP, Pilibhit

Two years after his switch to the BJP ahead of the 2022 Uttar Pradesh election, Jitin Prasada has got a poll pass for Pilibhit, where the BJP replaced sitting MP Varun Gandhi. Once a trusted aide of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Mr Prasada won in the 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha polls, but faced defeats in the 2014 and the 2019 elections. Following his switch to the BJP, he was appointed a minister in the Yogi Adityanath government. The Brahmin leader is up against Samajwadi Party’s five-time MLA and former minister Bhagwat Saran Gangwar, who is also being backed by the Congress, and Bahujan Samaj Party’s Anis Ahmed Khan.

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Karti Chidambaram, Congress, Sivaganga

Congress’s Karti Chidambaram will be looking to retain the Sivaganga seat in Tamil Nadu. The seat, won by him in the 2019 election, elected his father and former Home Minister P Chidambaram as many as seven times. Karti Chidambaram had suffered a crushing defeat in Sivaganga in 2014, finishing fourth, but made a strong comeback to win the seat in 2019. This time, the 46-year-old is up against AIADMK’s A Xavierdas and the BJP’s Devanathan Yadav T.

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