The campaigning came to an end for the sixth phase of state assembly elections in 52 constituencies in nine districts of Poorvanchal on Tuesday. The region is known for Mafiosi and caste politics for electoral gains.
Apart from Mafiosi politics of ballot with bullet, Naxalites are also major threat to electoral process on UP-Bihar-Jharkhand-Chattisgarh borders.
The DGP GL Sharma told HT on Tuesday "in view of the sensitivity of the region vigil has been mounted for peaceful polling on May 3". "Law and order situation has been properly analysed in all the districts and all precautionary measures have been taken," said joint chief electoral officer Kamini Ratan Chauhan. Referring to the Mafiosis’ presence in the fray, she said "every district has its counter programme".
"Out of total 785 nominees there were 138 criminal candidates in 6th phase," says UP Election Watch report. The former DGP and UPEW convenor IC Dwevidi said "6th phase has high number of candidates with pending criminal cases".
Moreover three districts - Mirzapur, Sonebhadra and Chandauli- are in grip of Naxalites. It is going to be major challenge for the security forces. The DGP, who last week visited Naxal affected districts said "additional forces had been provided to the region for effectively cordoning off the region".
Sharma said "moral of the security force is high". According to information 70 companies of central para-military forces have been deployed in Mirzapur, 53 in Sonebhadra and 57 in Chandauli. Around additional 20 companies of PAC have also been provided to these districts. Kamini Ratan said "like in previous phases in this round also vulnerable areas in Naxal region have been mapped so that people could vote freely".
From stalwarts like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Kamlapati Tripathi, Rajendra Kumar Bajpai, VP Singh Chandrashekhar in the past, the region has now turned into haven for criminal turned politicians like SP MP Atiq Ahmad, independent MLAs Mukhtar Ansari, Dhananjay, Brijesh Singh and Tribhwan Singh.
While Nehru’s Phulpur has turned into den of Atiq Ahmad, Tripathi’s Varanasi has become battleground for dreaded Brijesh Singh and Tribhuwan Singh gangs. Atiq’s brother Ashraf is SP nominee from Allahabad.
This phase would also test the usefulness of BJP’s alliance with Sonelal Patel’s Apna Dal. While "Beni factor" was visible against SP in Barabanki-Bahraich region, Patel’s "Kurmi card" would be put to test in 6th phase.
Thus sixth phase in Ghazipur, Chanduali, Varanasi, Jaunpur, Bhadoi, Mirzapur, Sonebhadra, Allahabad and Kaushambi is going to be crucial for main power contenders SP, BSP and BJP.
Of the total 52 seats, the SP had won in 20 constituencies in last assembly elections. Other winners were BSP 15, BJP 11, Apna Dal three, one each to Congress, CPM and independent.
Prominent contestants in this phase are BJP chief Kesrinath Tripathi, Narendra Kumar Singh Gaur, Om Prakash Singh (all BJP) Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Anugrah Narain Singh (Congress), Jagdish Narain, Inderjit Singh Saroj and Rangnath Mishra (BSP), Mukhtar Ansari and Sonelal Patel.