2019 Winner: CPI(M) (PR Natarajan) Key contenders: K Annamalai (BJP), Ganapathy P Rajkumar (DMK)
Coimbatore is the battleground of TN BJP chief K Annamalai, who is fighting his first LS election. Opposite him are DMK’s Ganapathy P Rajkumar and ADMK’s Singai G Ramachandran. Since 1952, DMK fielded candidates in Coimbatore only three times and ADMK just once while choosing to give the seat to their national allies.After the 1998 serial blasts, BJP gained a foothold and steadily built its presence. In 1998 and 1999, BJP won in alliances, first with ADMK and then DMK. Annamalai is hoping to repeat the feat but he has his task cut out: BJP is on its own, DMK has a strong alliance and vote share in its favour, and ADMK has stronger grassroots presence.
2019 Winner: DMK (A Raja)
Key contenders: A Raja (DMK), L Murugan (BJP), Logesh Tamilselvan D (ADMK)
This reserved constituency that includes regions from the plains and the hills is one of the few seats in Tamil Nadu where BJP has seen electoral success in the past (late 1990s). It is also the turf of former Union minister A Raja, who won in 2009 and 2019, but lost to ADMK in 2014, amid 2G scam allegations. BJP, which has fielded Union minister of state L Murugan, will hope to loosen Dravidian hold with the support of small tea farmers in the hills. Raja, though, starts as clear frontrunner.
2019 Winner: DMK (S Senthilkumar)
Key contenders: Sowmiya Ramadoss (PMK), A Mani (DMK), R Ashokan (ADMK)
The fight for the Vanniyar heartland features three candidates from the community – PMK chief Anbumani Ramadoss’s wife Sowmiya, DMK’s A Mani and ADMK’s R Ashokan. The candidature of Sowmiya, an environmentalist-turned-politician, came as a surprise from the party that is seen to have an edge among Vanniyars in the 14 lakh-strong electorate. Many in this constituency on the Karnataka border, a Maoist hotbed until the 90s, are forced to go to Chennai, Coimbatore or Bengaluru for jobs. NDA is hopeful of a good show here. DMK, with its allies, will look to break PMK’s hold; and it’s all the way uphill for ADMK that has to take on two strong fronts.
2019 Winner: ADMK (P Ravindhranath)
Key contenders: TTV Dhinakaran (AMMK), Thanga Tamilselvan (DMK) and VT Narayanasamy (ADMK)
AMMK chief TTV Dhinakaran, nephew of V K Sasikala, his former protégé DMK’s Thanga Tamilselvan and ADMK’s V T Narayanasamy are locked in a tough battle here. The Andipatti assembly segment was historically won by ADMK stalwarts MG Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa. Dhinakaran, who previously represented Periyakulam in 1999 on an ADMK ticket, is now aligned with BJP. Tamilselvan switched from AMMK to DMK after unsuccessfully contesting from here in 2019. The dominant Mukkulathor, a sub-sect of Thevar, hold sway in Theni. Their loyalties are split between Dhinakaran and Tamilselvan, both of whom hail from the community. ADMK and DMK highlight Dhinakaran’s past criticism of BJP and allege his 1995 FERA case is the reason for his tie-up. Tamilselvan relies on DMK’s welfare schemes and Narayanasamy is banking on ADMK’s goodwill.
2019 Winner: IUML (K Navas Kani)
Key contenders: OP Panneerselvam, P Jeyaperumal (ADMK), K Navas Kani (IUML backed by DMK)
With BJP turning the islet, Katchatheevu, into a poll issue, the spotlight is on this coastal seat where expelled ADMK leader and former chief minister O Panneerselvam is pitted against the sitting MP, IUML candidate and DMK ally K Navas Kani. Panneerselvam is hoping that a win would bolster his fight with Edappadi K Palaniswami to take over ADMK’s reins. But contesting as an Independent with BJP support, his worries are elsewhere — four namesakes who share his initials, OPS. Hailing from the Mukkulathor (subsect of Thevar) community, OPS is banking on their support. Navas Kani is counting on dominant Muslims, Christians and the fishing community.
2019 Winner: BJP (Varun Gandhi)
Key contenders: Bhagwat Saran Gangwar (SP), Anis Ahmed Khan (BSP), Jitin Prasada (BJP)
Former Congressman and now BJP’s Brahmin face, Jitin Prasada, takes on SP’s Bhagwat Saran Gangwar in a contest that could well be defined by internal strife both camps are facing because of their choice of candidate. As a result, BSP’s Anis Ahmed Khan fancies his chances. BJP chose Prasada, the state PWD minister, over incumbent Varun Gandhi, who had won the seat by a margin of 2.5 lakh votes in 2019. After being denied a ticket, Varun has kept away from party events, not even attending PM Modi’s rally in the constituency. Pilibhit has for a long time been regarded as the fortress of Varun and his mother Maneka (they never lost an election here since 1996).
2019 Winner: BSP (Girish Chandra)
Key contenders: Chandrashekhar Azad (Azaad Samaj Party-Kanshi Ram), Surendra Pal Singh (BSP), Om Kumar (BJP), Manoj Kumar (SP)
This west UP constituency on the Uttarakhand border, which is witnessing a worsening man-wildlife conflict with several lives lost in attacks by big cats, will see a four-cornered fight. The most well-known face is neither from NDA nor INDIA bloc, but Bhim Army chief and Azaad Samaj Party president Chandrashekhar Azad. All candidates are LS debutants. BJP has nominated Om Kumar, the current local MLA and SP (INDIA bloc) has fielded Manoj Kumar, a retired judicial officer. Azad is expected to make a dent in the traditional vote banks of BSP and SP — Dalits (24% of the electorate) and Muslims (38%) — which could benefit BJP.
Cooch Behar
2019 Winner: BJP (Nisith Pramanik)
Key contenders: Jagadish Chandra Barma Basunia (TMC), Nisith Pramanik (BJP), Piya Roy Chowdhury (Cong), Nitish Chandra Roy (Forward Bloc)
Once a Left bastion and now a BJP pocket, Cooch Behar could pose the stiffest challenge to TMC’s electoral fortunes this Lok Sabha election. Mamata Banerjee’s party managed to wrest just two of the seven assembly segments in the north Bengal constituency in the 2021 state polls. Nisith, an influential Rajbanshi leader and former Trinamool man, is crucial to BJP’s chances because of his support base and was rewarded with a berth in the Union ministry. Mamata has showered sops to woo the Rajbanshis back into the Trinamool fold while BJP elevated Greater Cooch Behar leader Nagendra Roy to Rajya Sabha. Congress and Left will make this a four-headed fight.
2019 Winner: Cong (Nakul Nath)
Key contenders: Nakul Nath (Cong), Bunty Vivek Sahu (BJP)
A Congress fortress synonymous with Kamal Nath, and since 2019 represented by his son Nakul, Chhindwara did not sway even in the last LS election when BJP won all other seats in the state. But this time, the saffron party, buoyed by its convincing assembly election win last year, is aiming for the perfect score amid talk of Kamal Nath’s differences with his party. Congress has seen an exodus of dozens of workers, senior functionaries and MLAs, including Kamal Nath loyalists Kamlesh Shah and Deepak Saxena, since the assembly poll defeat to BJP last year. BJP is backing district president Bunty Vivek Sahu to turn the tables on Nakul this time and avenge his 2019 loss.
2019 Winner: JD(U) (Vijay Manjhi)
Key contenders: Jitan Ram Manjhi (HAM/NDA), Kumar Sarvjeet (RJD/INDIA)
In existence since 1957, no party has been able to dominate here. Congress won it five times, BJP four, Janata Dal thrice and JD(U) once. Dubbed as the fight between two generations, 79-year-old former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi is trying his luck a fourth time, this time against the son of his first opponent in Gaya, former MLA and RJD’s Kumar Sarvjeet. In 1991, Manjhi, then with Congress, lost the seat to Sarvjeet’s father Rajesh Kumar.
Gaya has been represented by Manjhis since 1999.
2019 Winner: BJP (Rahul Kaswan)
Key contenders: Rahul Kaswan (Cong), Devendra Jhajaria (BJP)
BJP’s decision to drop two-time MP Rahul Kaswan, who then moved to Congress, has thrown the battle wide open in this constituency known as the gateway to Thar. Kaswan finds himself pitted against BJP’s paralympian nominee Devendra Jhajharia, but the real battle is in the background where the local rivalry between Kaswan and BJP veteran Rajendra Rathore is playing out, effectively turning the contest into a Kaswan vs Rathore fight. The Shekhawati belt, which sends a large number of youths into the armed forces, is cut up with the Centre’s short-service Agniveer scheme, anger which Congress hopes will turn into votes, even as BJP hardsells ‘Modi ki guarantee’.
Outer Manipur
2019 Winner: NPF (Lorho S Pfoze)
Key contenders: Alfred Kanngam S Arthur (Cong), Kachui Timothy Zimik (Naga People’s Front)
The only constituency that will vote in two phases, Outer Manipur will see 13 segments go to the polls today, including Chandel and Churachandpur districts that witnessed the worst of ethnic violence between Kukis and Meiteis last year. Normally, the state is among those with highest voter turnouts, but Kuki-Zo leaders have called on community members to refrain from contesting and hundreds of displaced Meitis are unlikely to exercise their right. To avoid any split, all candidates in the fray are from Naga tribes and may struggle to get support. A total 14 seats in the northeast states, including 5 in Assam, will vote today.
2019 Winner: BJP (Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’)
Key contenders: Trivendra Singh Rawat (BJP), Virender Rawat (Cong)
Haridwar is seeing a rivalry of former CMs play out — BJP’s Trivendra Singh Rawat and Congress veteran Harish Rawat, whose son Virender is the party’s choice. Both veterans are eyeing comebacks. Trivendra, removed as CM in March 2021, had opted out of the 2022 assembly polls. Harish Rawat, the driving force behind his son’s campaign, has been in political wilderness for years now, having tasted defeat in the 2017 and 2022 assembly elections followed by the resounding loss from Nainital in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Trivendra may have an upper hand in urban pockets, including Dehradun, while Virender pulls his weight in rural areas.
2019 Winner: NCP (Mohammed Faizal PP)
Key contenders: Mohammed Faizal PP (NCP-Sharadchandra Pawar), Muhammed Hamdullah Sayeed (Cong), Yousuf TP (NCP)
Its pristine islands thrust into limelight after PM Modi’s visit this Jan, 57,000 voters will decide the political fate of Lakshadweep, where sitting MP Mohammed Faizal PP won in 2019 by a margin of 823 votes. This time, he has a familiar foe in Congress’s Muhammed Hamdullah Sayeed and an unfamiliar one in the form of his own party. Now splintered, Faizal is with NCP (SP), the Sharad Pawar group, while Yousuf TP is representing NCP (Ajit Pawar group) at the ballot.

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