Varanasi leads the pack with a three pronged fight likely featuring BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and AAP boss Arvind Kejriwal in the fray. Samajwadi Party (SP) has named Kailash Chaurasia, minister in the state government, and BSP is thinking of fielding Vijay Jayaswal, a prominent trader, there. Congress has indicated it would field a strong candidate against Modi.
Earlier Varanasi was held by former BJP party president M M Joshi who has now moved to Kanpur bowing to wishes of party high command keen to pitch Gujarat Chief Minister from the holy city to help improve the overall party tally in the state that sends maximum number of Parliamentarians to Lok Sabha.
Ghaziabad is another location that has of late grabbed headlines. The predominantly middle class residential colony in the National Capital Region (NCR) area witnessed the rise of Arvind Kejriwal from an activist turned political aspirant to the Chief Minister of Delhi. But even as Kejriwal has moved house, Ghaziabad continues to be in the spotlight as a parliamentary constituency of consequence.
While BJP president Rajnath Singh is the sitting MP from there, it is the advent of three new age politicians that Ghaziabad promises a keen fare. BJP has now nominated former Army chief VK Singh, journalist turned politician Shazia Ilmi is contesting on AAP ticket while Congress has fielded actor and sitting MP from Firozabad, Raj Babbar there.
Chandigarh has become a mouth watering contest with an overdose of Bollywood this election. Kirron Kher, who became the voice of anti-corruption campaign launched by Anna Hazare in 2011 and later joined ranks with BJP will take on Gul Panag, who has positioned herself as not the run of the mill actress. Like her father, an ex army man, Panag has found favor with AAP. Congress choice in Chandigarh has also made the contest newsy. Pawan Bansal, who had to quit as Railways amidst charges of corruption, will find the going a challenge.
Journalist turned spokesperson of AAP Ashutosh’s entry in Chandni Chowk has brought a new dimension to the challenge while BJP has shown its keenness to use clean image of its Delhi Chief Ministerial candidate Dr. Harshvardhan to turn the table on competition which includes Congress heavyweight sitting MP and union minister Kapil Sibal. AAP was first to field its nominee from Chandni Chowk.
Like in Varanasi, Ghaziabad and Chandigarh, Chandni Chowk had its share of protests over fielding of ‘external’ candidates.
The millennium city, Gurgaon is also expected to stay in limelight because of the candidates fielded by various parties. While AAP has chosen its ideologue Yogendra Yadav, BJP has gone with three time Congress MP Rao Inderjit Singh who recently moved to saffron party. Congress has given ticket to Rao Dharampal. AAP has been keen to repeat its performance in the state as it goes for assembly polls soon.
Moving west, contest for Mumbai North Central seat is being seen as the battle of daughters. BJP has fielded Poonam Mahajan, daughter of slain leader Pramod Mahajan against two-time Congress MP Priya Dutt. It is not clear whether Raj Thackeray led MNS would field a candidate there. BJP strongman Gopinath Munde made it a point to get Poonam a ticket even as there apparently were other contenders as well.
This election promises to add to the political hotspots as parties get set to announce another set of candidates.