Riots scarred western Uttar Pradesh in 2013 and the impact is likely to be felt when 10 constituencies in the region, including Muzaffarnagar, vote on Thursday.
The first day of the six-phase elections in the crucial state, which has the most number of Lok Sabha seats (80), has
controversial Congress leader Imran Masood, former Army chief VK Singh, Union minister Ajit Singh and yesteryear actors Raj Babbar, Jaya Prada and Nagma, among others, in the fray.
There is talk that the fight in the sugarcane belt of western UP, where Jats, Muslims and Dalits have a strong presence, would be between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
The ruling Samajwadi Party is believed to be on the back foot in the region in the aftermath of the August-September riots in which at least 61 people were killed and more than 50,000 displaced.
Opinion polls predict a good show by the BJP in UP. The saffron party, in the first phase, is banking on two factors: division of Muslim votes and a "wave" in the favour of its prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi.
Saharanpur, Meerut and Kairana seats have two Muslim candidates each in the fray. The division of minority votes could help the BJP.
The Congress has tried hard to make an impression on voters, but infighting in constituencies such as Meerut has hurt the party.
Ghaziabad, on the outskirts of Delhi, will see a triangular fight among BJP's VK Singh, Congress' Raj Babbar and Aam Aadmi Party's Shazia Ilmi, who is riding on the rookie party's success in the 2013 assembly elections in the Capital.
Of the 10 seats in UP going to polls on Thursday, the BSP had won five, while the BJP and the RLD got two each in 2009. The ruling SP had won one seat.
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10 Lok Sabha seats of UP
BSP - Jagdish Singh Rana (Sitting MP)
SP - Shazan Masood
BJP - Raghav Lakhanpal
Congress - Imran Masood
2. Kairana (Sitting MP Tabbsum Begum of BSP not contesting)
BSP - Kanwar Hasan
BJP - Hukum Singh
SP - Nahid Hasan
BSP - Kadir Rana (Sitting MP)
Congress - Pankaj Agarwal
SP - Virender Singh
BJP - Sanjeev Kumar Balyan
4. Bijnor (Sitting MP Sanjay Chouhan of RLD not contesting)
RLD - Jaya Prada
BSP - Malook Nagar
BJP - Kunwar Bhartendra
SP- Shahnawaz Rana
Congress - Nagma
BJP - Rajendra Agarwal (Sitting MP)
BSP - Shahid Akhlak
SP - Shahid Manzoor
RLD - Ajit Singh (Sitting MP)
BSP - Prashant Chaudhry
BJP - Satyapal Singh
SP- Gulam Mohammed
BJP - VK Singh (Sitting MP Rajnath Singh contesting from Lucknow)
Congress - Raj Babbar
AAP - Shazia Ilmi
SP- Sudhan Rawat
BSP- Mukul Upadhyay
8. Gautam Budh Nagar (Sitting MP Surendra Kumar Nagar of BSP not contesting)
BSP - Satish Kumar Awana
BJP - Mahesh Sharma
SP - Narendra Bhati
BJP- Dr Bhola
BSP - Pradip Kumar Jatav
SP- Kamlesh Balmiki (Sitting MP)
RLD- Anjum Muskan
10. Aligarh (Sitting MP Rajkumari Chauhan of BSP not contesting)
Congress- Bijendra Singh
BSP- Dr Arvind Singh
SP- Zafar Alam
BJP - Satish Gautam
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