8 Union ministers, 2 former chief ministers, and 1 former governor are running in the first round of the Lok Sabha elections

On April 19, 102 seats across 21 states and Union territory will go to the polls in the first phase of elections, which will test the electoral destiny of eight Union ministers, two former chief ministers, and one former governor.

Nitin Gadkari, the minister of roads and transport, is aiming for a hat-trick of victories from the Nagpur seat. He had won the seat in 2014 against Vilas Muttemwar, the seven-time MP, by a margin of 2.84 lakh votes, and he did it again in 2019 against Nana Patole, the head of the Maharashtra Congress, by 2.16 lakh votes.

Kiren Rijiju, a union minister, is a candidate for the Arunachal West seat. Since 2004, the 52-year-old has served as the constituency’s representative three times. Nabam Tuki, a former chief minister and current head of the Arunachal Pradesh Congress, is Rijiju’s principal opponent.

The Union Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways, Sarbanada Sonowal, is requesting to return from Dibrugarh, Assam, to the Lok Sabha. Following the denial of a ticket to Union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Rameswar Teli, Sonowal, a member of the Rajya Sabha, was fielded from Dibrugarh.

Muzaffarnagar, which is renowned for its complex caste system, is now seeing a three-way election contest, with Union Minister Sanjeev Baliyan facing off against Harindra Malik of the Samajwadi Party and Dara Singh Prajapati of the BSP.

Two-time lawmaker Jitendra Singh, a junior minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is going for a hat-trick in Udhampur.

Union minister and Rajya Sabha member Bhupendra Yadav, who succeeded retiring MP Balak Nath, is running against incumbent Congress MLA Lalit Yadav, who comes from Rajasthan’s Matsya district and has the backing of the Yadav caste.

Former Congress minister Govind Ram Meghwal is competing against Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal for the Rajasthani parliamentary constituency of Bikaner.

One of the most anticipated contests between L Murugan of the BJP, the Union Minister of State for Fisheries, and A Raja, the sitting DMK MP and former telecom minister, is taking place in the Nilgiris Lok Sabha seat in Tamil Nadu. Murugan, a Madhya Pradesh native who was elected to the Rajya Sabha, is running for office for the first time.

Aiming for re-election, Sivaganga MP Karti Chidmabaram is running against Xavier Dass of the AIADMK and T Devanathan Yadav of the BJP from a seat that his father won seven times.

In Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, BJP president K Annamalai will face off against DMK leader Ganapathy P Rajkumar and AIADMK leader Singai Ramachandran in the ballot test.

Tamilisai Soundararajan is running for the Chennai South Lok Sabha seat. He just resigned from his positions as governor of Telangana and lieutenant governor of Puducherry in order to resume his political career. Soundararajan, the daughter of seasoned Congressman Kumari Anantha, fought against Kanimozhi of the DMK in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections but was defeated handily in Thoothukudi.

Kanimozhi is running for the seat again this time. SDR Vijayaseelan has been fielded by NDA ally Tamil Maanila Congress (Moopanar), whereas R Sivasami Velumani has been fielded by AIADMK from the seat.

Nakul Nath, the son of former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and leader of the Congress, is running for reelection in Chhindwara.

Kamal Nath has retained the seat strongly, having won it nine times since 1980. The BJP won 28 of the 29 seats in the state in the 2019 elections, but they were unable to win Chhindwara, as Nakul defeated the BJP’s nominee by 37,536 votes to become the state’s only Congress MP.

Out of the two Lok Sabha seats in Tripura, the contest between state Congress president Ashish Kumar Saha and former chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb is expected to be highly charged in the seat of West Tripura, which will vote in the first round on April 19.

Gaurav Gogoi, the son of former chief minister Tarun Gogoi and the deputy leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, has been elected twice since 2014 from the Kaliabor seat in Assam. He is now the contender in the neighboring Jorhat, where Topon Kumar Gogoi of the BJP won in 2019.

Following the effects of the delimitation process in his 2019 constituency, Kaliabor, Gaurav Gogoi moved to Jorhat.

The BJP’s nominee for the Inner Manipur seat, Manipur Law and Education Minister Basanta Kumar Singh, is facing off against JNU professor and Congress candidate Bimal Akoijam.

Singh is a Meiti community member. His father, Thounaojam Chaoba Singh, was the Union Minister of State for sports, youth affairs, culture, and food processing under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) administration.

A fascinating contest between Rahul Kaswan of the Congress and BJP candidate Devendra Jhajharia, a two-time Paralympic gold medalist in the javelin throw, is about to take place in Churu, a BJP stronghold in northern Rajasthan. The turncoat Kaswan has added intrigue to the battle for Churu. The two-time BJP member only quit in March when the party refused to give him a ticket.

Seven stages will see voting for the 543 seats up for election in the 18th Lok Sabha. On June 4, the votes will be tallied.

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