Voting on for 4th phase of UP polls, Lakhimpur among seats in focus
UP Assembly Election: Lakhimpur Kheri, Raebareli and Lucknow among key districts voting in fourth phase of polls today
Voting for the fourth phase of UP Assembly polls began this morning with Lakhimpur Kheri – where four farmers were run over by a convoy allegedly driven by a union minister's son - one of several key seats. Also in the spotlight are five seats in the Raebareli constituency, which is the stronghold of the Congress and is represented in the Lok Sabha by Sonia Gandhi.
1. Voter turnout was 9.1 per cent till 9 am, according to data from the Election Commission.
2. A total of 59 constituencies across nine districts, including Lucknow, are voting in this phase. Apart from Lakhimpur Kheri and Raebareli, the others are Pilibhit, Sitapur, Hardoi, Unnao, Banda, and Fatehpur.
3. In 2017, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 51 of these 59 seats. Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party (SP) - widely seen as the biggest challenger to the BJP this time - won four. Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party won three. The Apna Dal (Sonelal), an ally of the BJP, won one.
4. The Lakhimpur seat is seen as a potentially key indicator of the fate of the BJP and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's government. In October last year eight people - three party workers and a journalist - died in violence that followed four farmers being run over by a SUV. Union minister Ajay Mishra's son, Ashish Mishra, is a murder accused in the case. Ashish Mishra is currently out on bail.
5. Angry farmers - whose votes Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party and the Congress are counting on to oust the BJP - have approached the Supreme Court to cancel Ashish Mishra's bail.
6. Lakhimpur Kheri has eight seats, all of which are held by the BJP. The party has fielded incumbent Yogesh Verma from Lakhimpur. The Samajwadi Party has fielded Utkarsh Verma Madhur and Mayawati's BSP has offered Mohan Bajpai to voters. The Congress named Dr Ravishankar Trivedi. Also in the fray here are Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM and the Lok Janshakti Party.
7. A prominent candidate in this phase is UP law minister Brijesh Pathak, who faces Samajwadi Party candidate and two-time corporator Surendra Singh Gandhi for the Lucknow Cantonment seat. Also contesting today is Ashutosh Tandon, the minister for urban development, who is defending his Lucknow East seat. He faces Manoj Tiwari from the Congress, Anurag Bhadauria from the Samajwadi Party, and Aashish Kumar Sinha from the BSP.
8. Voting is also being held in state capital Lucknow, where nine seats are up for grabs. A keenly-watched contest will be for the Sarojini Nagar Assembly segment, for which Rajeshwar Singh, a former top official from the Enforcement Directorate, has been fielded by the BJP. He faces Abhishek Mishra - a minister in the former Samajwadi Party government.
9. There is much drama in Raebareli Sadar - which falls under Sonia Gandhi's parliamentary seat - after sitting MLA Aditi Singh quit the Congress joined the BJP. She faces Manish Chauhan from her former party. Ms Singh is the daughter of five-time Congress MLA Akhilesh Singh, who died in 2019. The Samajwadi Party has fielded RP Yadav.
10. Three phases of voting have already been completed in Uttar Pradesh, with voting also over in Punjab, Goa, and Uttarakhand. After today there are three more UP poll phases - on February 27, March 3, and March 7. Manipur votes on February 28. All results will be declared on March 10.