Campaign for 1st LS poll phase ends, Rahul says BJP will be reduced to 150 seats | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Campaign for 1st LS poll phase ends, Rahul says BJP will be reduced to 150 seats

Apr 18, 2024 09:24 AM IST

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, another prominent member of the opposition bloc, has said the BJP was going to be restricted under 200 seats

The campaign for the first and largest phase of the Lok Sabha elections ended on Wednesday two days before the world’s largest democratic exercise kicks off on Friday. As many as 102 constituencies across 21 states and Union territories will go to the polls and 1,625 candidates are in the fray.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressing a public meeting in Karnataka’s Kolar. (X)
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressing a public meeting in Karnataka’s Kolar. (X)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has set a target of winning 400 of 543 Lok Sabha seats on the promise of Viksit Bharat (developed India), infrastructure push and ideological issues such as construction of the Ram Temple. If the BJP wins another term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will equal the record of Jawaharlal Nehru of winning three consecutive Lok Sabha polls. Congress is hoping to ensure it does not lose three consecutive polls for a second time.

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Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav share stage

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said the BJP will be reduced to 150 seats in the Lok Sabha polls because of a strong undercurrent in favour of the Opposition as he addressed a press conference with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav two days before general elections kick off.

Gandhi’s comments came a day after West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, another prominent member of the opposition bloc, said that the BJP was going to be restricted under 200 seats. The back-to-back statements suggested the opposition was looking to undercut the BJP’s campaign narrative that it was on course to win 370 seats on its own and over 400 with allies.

Yadav said that “winds of change” were blowing from western Uttar Pradesh and there would be an opposition bloc “clean sweep” from Ghaziabad to Ghazipur.

Suspense over Amethi

Gandhi kept up the suspense on whether he would contest the Lok Sabha polls from Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi besides seeking re-election from Wayanad in Kerala. He maintained he would follow “whatever order” he got from his party. The comment comes days after his brother-in-law, Robert Vadra, said the people of Amethi want him to contest from the Uttar Pradesh seat. Gandhi represented Amethi in the Lok Sabha for three straight terms from 2004. He lost the constituency to BJP leader and Union minister Smriti Irani in 2019.

TMC releases manifesto

West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Wednesday released its election manifesto two days before the first phase of the election begins. Coochbehar, Alipurduar, and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal will go to the polls in the first phase. TMC’s 10 poll promises include the party chief Mamata Banerjee’s oft-repeated assurances over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC), and Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in Bengal. The manifesto called the CAA “botched up” and said it would be abolished and the NRC would be discontinued.

TMC leaders reiterated support for the Congress-led alliance at the Centre. The two parties are contesting the polls in West Bengal separately.

Chandigarh Congress in damage control mode

Congress’s candidate Manish Tewari met Deipa Dubey, one of the party’s 61 office bearers who resigned over alleged disrespect to four-time Member of Parliament Pawan Bansal. He visited Dubey at her residence where she stuck to her stand demanding the removal of local Congress unit chief HS Lucky. Tewari maintained it was impossible at this point.

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