Campaigning peaks in UP
The fate of several stalwarts of different political parties will be decided as the state goes to polls for the crucial 30 Lok Sabha constituencies.
With major political parties fighting it out in the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh amid predictions of a hung Lok Sabha, campaigning has reached its crescendo in all the 30 Lok Sabha seats going to polls in the next phase of polling in the state on May 5, which will decide the fate of several stalwarts of different political parties.
Senior leaders of the parties have fanned out to different parts of Central Uttar Pradesh addressing election rallies to woo the electorate.
With the exit polls predicting a hung Lok Sabha, stakes have become high for the parties, especially Samajwadi Party, BJP and Congress.
The second phase of polling in the state would decide the fate of several stalwarts including Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who is contesting from Lucknow, and Samajwadi Party President Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is in the fray from Mainpuri.
The fate of Union Minister Murli Manohar Joshi (Allahabad) and state BJP chief Vinay Katiyar (Lakhimpur-Kheri) would also be decided in the may 5 polling.
Stung by the not so encouraging exit polls predictions, BJP has launched its election campaign on a war footing with senior party leaders addressing a series of rallies throughout the state.
While Vajpayee has already addressed two election rallies in his Lok Sabha constituency and would be addressing two more, Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani and union ministers Sushma Swaraj, Shatrughan Sinha and Rajnath Singh have been criss-crossing the state.
Besides politicians, film and TV stars have also joined the campaigning with the BJP taking a lead.
Dream girl' Hemamalini and Bollywood heartthrob Vivek Oberoi also addressed election rallies in favour of BJP candidates in the state besides television star Smriti 'Tulsi' Irani who joined campaigning in the Prime Minister's constituency.
Not to lag behind, SP President Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP Chief Mayawati are also making rounds of different constituencies in an effort to capture more and more seats.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi had also addressed election rallies at Mishrikh, Sitapur and Mohanlal Ganj.
Congress' star campaigner Rahul Gandhi would join election campaign by organising a roadshow in favour of the party candidate from Kanpur.
In the last Lok Sabha elections the SP had bagged 13 of the 30 seats while the BJP and BSP had won seven each, Congress had emerged victorious on only two and the Loktantrik Congress party one.
During campaigning, the BJP has been harping on the stability factor, Vajpayee's leadership, and achievements of the NDA regime.
The SP is also telling the electorate about the work done by its government during its little over eight months rule while the BSP leader Mayawati has been targetting the BJP, SP and the Congress on the issue of Dalit welfare.
Congress, on the other hand is promising alround development of the state, which it said had lagged behind during successive non-congress regimes.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made to ensure free and fair polling in all the 30 Lok Sabha constituencies going to the polls on may 5, election office sources said.
Four senior IPS officers of the rank of inspector general have been posted to ensure peaceful polling, they said.
Chief Electoral Officer Vijay Sharma said that the arrangments for conducting peaceful polling have been completed.
The election commission has ordered videography at Etah, Hardoi, Lucknow, Allahabad, Hathras, Etawah and Sitapur Lok Sabha constituencies among others.
A special observer had already visited Ferozabad, Mainpuri, Etawah and Kannauj constituencies on the directive of the commission, he said.
Sharma said that the representatives from the embassies of Netherlands and Britain would be arriving in the state to witness the election process.
Though the first phase of polling on April 26 last was by and large peaceful barring some stray incidents of violence, the commission was not taking any chances, he said.
Get Updates on India News, Farmers Protest Live alongwith the Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the the world.