Key contests to watch in the Indian election as vote counting begins:
Narendra Modi vs Arvind Kejriwal/Constituency: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Exit polls have predicted a huge win for India’s principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi from this holy city but what does Aam Aadmi chief Arvind Kejriwal have to gain from going up against a man widely pegged as the frontrunner to becoming India’s next prime minister? Will Mr. Kejriwal win by losing? Turns out, that’s a risk he is willing to take, according to political experts, who said Mr. Kejriwal’s decision to take on a political heavyweight like Mr. Modi is like a David-and-Goliath challenge – a “symbolic fight.”
Arun Jaitley vs Amarinder Singh/Constituency: Amritsar, Punjab
Arun Jaitley is a lawyer and leader of the opposition from the BJP in Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Parliament. Should the BJP come to power, Mr. Jaitley, a key aide of Mr. Modi, is said to be eyeing a high-profile post with the next government. He is a potential candidate for one of the top cabinet jobs as India’s next finance minister. Mr. Jaitley said he wants to see India become an export powerhouse like China.
In the battle for Amristar, Mr. Jaitley is up against Punjab’s former chief minister Amarinder Singh of the Congress party. A win for MR. Singh will reassert his pre-eminence in the party after he was ousted as the Punjab party chief following two defeats in the assembly elections of 2007 and 2012.
Rahul Gandhi vs Smriti Irani vs Kumar Vishwas/ Constituency: Amethi, Uttar Pradesh
Congress vice-president and scion of the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, Rahul Gandhi will most likely retain his parliamentary seat in Amethi. The question is – by how much?
Kapil Sibal vs Ashutosh vs Harsh Vardhan/Constituency: Chandni Chowk, Delhi
Federal law minister Kapil Sibal takes on journalist-turned-politician Ashutosh from AAP, and BJP’s Harsh Vardhan – a medical doctor best known as one of the pioneers of the polio vaccination program in India.
Nandan Nilekani vs Ananth Kumar/Constituency: Bangalore South, Karnataka
One of the founding members of India’s second-largest software exporter Infosys, Mr. Nilekani is running on behalf of the Congress party will take on incumbent Anath Kumar, a seasoned BJP politician who served as federal minister for civil aviation in 1998 and held multiple ministerial posts in 1999 including tourism, sports, youth affairs, culture and urban development.
Misha Bharti vs Ram Kripal Yadav Vs Ranjan Prasad Yadav/Constituency: Pataliputra, in Bihar
Misha Bharti is the daughter of Lalu Prasad Yadav, one of India’s most colorful politicians who has recently spent time in jail last year was found guilty last year of misappropriating hundreds of millions of rupees of government funds meant to purchase animal feed in Bihar in the 1990s. As a convicted felon Mr. Yadav cannot run for Parliament but he has made sure to keep the family legacy intact by negotiating for his daughter to run instead. Ms. Bharti will face BJP’s Ram Kripal Yadav, a man once considered a close aide to her father and a defector from the Rashtriya Janata Dal, a party that the senior Yadav founded in 1997. They are fighting to win against Ranjan Prasad Yadav, a professor of geology from the regional party called the Janata Dal (United).
Meenakshi Lekhi vs Ajay Maken vs Ashish Khetan/Constituency: New Delhi, Delhi
This is a fight for the prestigious New Delhi constituency, which will be one of the closest battles to watch as some of the biggest players in Indian politics face off in a tightly-contested parliamentary race that includes Ajay Maken who was a federal minister of housing and poverty alleviation, Meenakshi Lekhi an outspoken lawyer and national spokeswoman for the BJP and yet another journalist-turned-politician for AAP, Ashish Khetan.
Kirron Kher vs Gul Panag vs Pawan Bansal/Constituency: Chandigarh, Punjab
Former Railways minister Pawan Bansal, who was forced to quit his post following corruption charges is up against two glamorous women from Bollywood who’ve led colorful campaigns.
Moon Moon Sen vs Basudeb Acharia/Constituency: Bankura, West Bengal
Ms. Sen, a fading Bengali language movie star is looking to take down a much-respected veteran of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Basudeb Acharia, who has represented the constituency since he was first elected in 1980.
Sandeep Dikshit vs Rajmohan Gandhi/Constituency: East Delhi, Delhi
Even before the results were declared on Friday Sandeep Dikshit, son of Delhi’s former chief minister Sheila Dikshit, a member of the Congress party conceded defeat from his parliamentary seat, saying his campaign failed to fight the anti-incumbency sentiment sweeping across the state. He is pitted against AAP’s Rajmohan Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.