Lok Sabha polls: Congress faces saffron challenge

Lok Sabha polls: Congress faces saffron challenge
Highlights

Lok Sabha polls: Congress faces saffron challenge. BJP faces a tough test in Bihar, Congress stares at a saffron challenge in Maharashtra and regional outfits contend with turning pitches on 117 Lok Sabha seats across 11 states and one union territory where polling is due on Thursday.

NEW DELHI: BJP faces a tough test in Bihar, Congress stares at a saffron challenge in Maharashtra and regional outfits contend with turning pitches on 117 Lok Sabha seats across 11 states and one union territory where polling is due on Thursday.

The 2014 Lok Sabha polls will be more than half over after elections to 347 seats are complete after the sixth phase of voting, with the 84, 91 and 41 seats left in the remaining phases.
BJP and Congress are squaring off in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan and state bosses like Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, AIADMK's J Jayalalitha and NCP leader Sharad Pawar are also slugging it out with their rivals.
This phase will settle the fate of political biggies like SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and BJP leader Sushma Swaraj besides others like PDP's Mehbooba Mufti, DMK's A Raja and Congress's Mohammad Azharuddin.
The political topography is a challenge to BJP and Congress which need to defend turfs while seeking fresh gains even as regional forces like SP, BSP, AIADMK and DMK look to do much the same, with the difference that some now see BJP as an unanticipated threat.
All of 39 seats in Tamil Nadu and one seat of Puducherry will go to polls while elections will be over in major states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. In Maharashtra the populous bell weather Mumbai-Thane-Kalyan belt will vote along with northern areas and Raigad.
The contests in Mumbai are keen, with Shiv Sena-BJP hoping to snatch seats from Congress-NCP riding on an anti-UPA wave and the diminished presence of Raj Thackeray's MNS.
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