The battle of ballots has shifted to eastern Uttar Pradesh, the zone packed with country's highest number of high-profile candidates who face the challenge of not only ensuring their individual victories but also winning their parties the desired chunk of seats.
The east, running alongside the Ganga and Yamuna rivers, is yet to experience the communal polarisation that split voters along religious lines in the west and created a huge pro-BJP upsurge in the first two phases.
The region remained untouched by the developments in the west is largely because of the slowing down of the BJP wave when it entered the Yadav land in the third phase of the election on Thursday.
However, political analysts such as Dr Arun Tiwari in Kannauj and Dr KS Rana in Agra believe the live telecast of Narendra Modi's grand show in Varanasi on polling day on Thursday swung many voters towards BJP.
The perceived last moment swing in Etawah, Kannauj, Ferozabad and Farukhabad is bad news for Samajwadi Party, as these seats are close to Mulayam Singh Yadav's Mainpuri constituency. The prestige of UP's first family is linked with the results of polls in these four seats.
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Mulayam Singh Yadav, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi, the key drivers and contestants, face the real test now, especially after their enthusiastic supporters converted their nomination journeys into victory processions.
At stake are 58 seats — 29 in East, 14 in Awadh and 15 in Doab that runs through the Yadav land, 11 of which went to the polls on Thursday. The BJP had six of these seats in the 2009 election, far less than 17 and 14 won by SP and BSP respectively. With 18 seats, the Congress, however, had walked away with the biggest slice of the pie in the region, where pollsters believe it is losing terminally this time.
Reports from the war zone indicate both SP and BSP might retain their ground, while the hype behind Modi will only bring BJP back in the reckoning in the region where it is weak.
"Mulayam's decision to contest from Azamgarh besides Mainpuri has saved SP from disaster in the east," said political analyst Banwari Lal Jalan.
Though Mayawati has not taken a plunge in the poll arena herself, she has her pockets of influence in this most backward region of the state with a sizable Dalit population.
The BJP leadership is confident the Modi factor will take the region by storm in coming days, banking on the perception that pro-party momentum is gaining strength in each polling phase.
However, the leadership is aware at the same time that SP and BSP remain formidable competitors, as caste is still a driving force in rural areas.
Thus while the Gandhis, despite the predictions of doom, would want to retain the adjoining Pratapgarh, Sultanpur and Barabanki seats along with Rae Bareli and Amethi, Mulayam eyes family seats in the Yadav belt and Lalganj, Jaunpur, Ballia and Machlishahr from Azamgarh.
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