UP election: After war of words, it’s over to the voter in fourth phase of assembly polls
Battle lines drawn: Stakes high for key players in 53 constituencies of Bundelkhand, parts of Avadh region and eastern UPassembly elections Updated: Feb 22, 2017 23:07 IST
In the backdrop of an ugly war of words between top politicians, polling will be held in 53 constituencies spread over 12 districts in the fourth phase of the seven-phase Uttar Pradesh assembly election on Thursday.
In all, 680 candidates are in the fray in these constituencies in drought-prone Bundelkhand and parts of the Avadh region and eastern Uttar Pradesh.
In 2012 polls, out of the 53 seats in this phase, the Samajwadi Party had won 24, BJP five, Bahujan Samaj Party 15, Congress 6 and ‘others’ three, including two SP allies..
This time, the ruling Samajwadi Party, is facing a stiff challenge from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The Congress is contesting 25 of the 53 seats under a pre-poll pact with the Samajwadi Party.
Assembly segments in Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituency will be among the seats where the electoral exercise will take place.
The other districts going to polls in this phase are Pratapgarh, Kaushambi, Allahabad, Jalaun, Jhansi, Lalitpur, Mahoba, Banda, Hamirpur, Chitrakoot and Fatehpur.
The BSP is looking to regain its primacy in Bundelkhand. The caste equations in the region have traditionally favoured the BSP as the region has the least concentration of Yadavs, the traditional votebank of the SP.
The BJP has deployed union minister and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharati to try and win the region which has 19 assembly constituencies spread over seven districts. Bharti is a Bundelkhandi but belongs to the Madhya Pradesh part of the region. She was elected MLA from Charkhari in 2012 but vacated the seat two years later when she was made it to the Lok Sabha from Jhansi.
Nearly two crore voters will exercise their franchise in this phase.
Before the fourth phase, the political discourse took a new turn when Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared to play the Hindutva card and said shamshan (cremation grounds) should be developed in the same manner as graveyards (kabristan) and there should be supply of as much power during Diwali as during Ramzan.
Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav rebutted the PM’s allegation of discrimination by the UP government and presented ‘facts’ in support of the claim that his regime was even handed in providing facilities to both communities.
The same day, Akhilesh had made an apparent attack on the BJP by making “donkey” remark while referring to an advertisement of Gujarat government in which megastar Amitabh Bachchan promotes tourism in the state. Without taking any name, he had “advised” the “biggest Bollywood actor of the century” not to “campaign for the donkeys of Gujarat”. Akhilesh’s attack had followed Modi’s accusation against him of indulging in discrimination in power supply on the basis of religion.
For his part, Modi described the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) as ‘Behenji Sampatti Party’. Mayawati, the BSP chief, retorted: “Narendra Damodar Modi stands for Negative Dalit Man.”
Prominent contestants include sitting MLA Aradhana Mishra from Rampur Khas (Pratapgarh), the daughter of Congress MP Pramod Tiwari, and Independent MLA and minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, who is again contesting from his traditional Kunda (Pratapgarh) seat.
In Rae Bareli, Aditi Singh is contesting on Congress ticket, BSP turncoat Swami Prasad Maurya’s son Utkarsh Maurya is in the fray from Unchahar seat, while Leader of Opposition Gaya Charan Dinkar (BSP) is contesting from Naraini (Banda) seat.
Senior SP leader Reoti Raman Singh’s son Ujjwal Raman Singh is in the race from Karchana (Allahabad) seat.