Stakes high for SP, BJP in third phase of polls

Stakes high for SP, BJP in third phase of polls

The stakes are high for the SP and the BJP in the third phase of polling for 69 seats in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday. It will decide the fate of 11 ministers in the Akhilesh Yadav Cabinet.

The SP is hard-pressed to repeat its 2012 Assembly poll  performance, when it had won 55 seats and had swept the polls in several districts.

While Abhishek Mishra, one of the key aides of Akhilesh, is in the fray from Lucknow, senior SP leader and state minister Farid Mehfooz Kidwai is contesting from the Kursi seat in Barabanki district.

Another key Akhilesh aide and minister Arvind Singh Gope is locked in a tough fight in the Ramnagar seat in Barabanki district.

Senior SP leader Beni Prasad Verma, who wanted the seat for his son, is working against Gope. Another state minister Ravidas Mehrotra is contesting from the Lucknow Central seat.

Though the Congress had given this seat to the SP, its nominee, Maroof Khan, has refused to withdraw and remains in the fray.

The outcome of the polls in this phase will also test the popularity of many senior SP leaders, including the party’s Rajya Sabha member Naresh Agarwal, whose son Nitin Agarwal is in the fray from the Hardoi Sadar seat.

He faces a tough challenge from his BSP and BJP rivals. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s wife and Lok Sabha member from Kannauj Dimple Yadav also faces the test in this phase.

Dimple has campaigned extensively in her constituency. The SP, however, is wary of Verma, who is said to be sulking after the party did not nominate his son from the Ramnagar Assembly seat in Barabanki district.

Rajnath’s stature at stake

Stakes are also high for Assembly seats in Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s Lucknow constituency.

A good performance by the BJP in Lucknow will help boost Rajnath’s stature in the party.  The BJP’s performance in the 2012 Assembly polls in Lucknow was not satisfactory, with the party winning only one of the nine seats.

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