Fifth phase polling in UP today

Assembly polls 2017: All eyes on Amethi; flag march in some areas

Fifth phase polling in UP today

Central forces on Sunday conducted flag march in sensitive areas close to the Terai region in Nepal’s foothills, which go to polls on Monday along with parts of eastern UP, with all eyes on the Nehru-Gandhi pocket borough Amethi.

As many as 51 Assembly constituencies spread across 11 districts, five of which border Nepal, will go to polls in the fifth phase. Prominent contestants include controversial UP minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati (SP), who will face Amita Singh (Congress) and Garima Singh (BJP) in Amethi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.

Amita is the wife of Congress leader Sanjay Singh, while Garima is his estranged wife, making it a “rani versus rani” contest. The districts going to polls in this phase are Balrampur, Gonda, Faizabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Bahraich, Shravasti, Basti, Siddharth Nagar, Sant Kabir Nagar, Amethi and Sultanpur.

Due to death of SP candidate Chandrashekhar Kanaujia in Alapur (Ambedkar Nagar), the Election Commission has announced fresh voting in this constituency on March 9.

In 2012, the ruling SP had won 37 seats out of 52 (total seats in this phase, including Alapur). While the BJP and Congress won five seats each, the BSP had won three and Peace Party won two seats.

With certain districts not far from the Nepal border, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made it a point in his speech in Gonda to refer to the Kanpur train tragedy, in which 150 people lost their lives.

Modi had said the accident was due to a “conspiracy” and the perpetrators carried it out “sitting across the border” in Nepal. Gonda is close to Nepal and so are Bahraich, Shravasti, Balrampur and Sidhharth Nagar districts.

In all, 608 candidates are in the fray in this phase, with a maximum of 24 candidates in Amethi and a minimum of six each in Kapilvastu and Etwa seats of Siddharth Nagar district.

Nearly 1.84 crore voters, including 96 lakh women, will decide the fate of the leaders in the fray, including ministers Vinod Kumar Singh alias Pandit Singh from Tarabganj (Gonda), Tej Narain Pandey alias Pawan Pandey from Ayodhya and BSP state president Ram Achal Rajbhar from Akbarpur in this phase.

The run-up to the high-decibel campaign for the fifth phase saw a free flow of words like “donkey, Kasab and kabootar”, taking the level of speeches by leaders of key parties to a new low.

As the war of words got uglier, Modi had hit back at Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav for his “donkey” remark, asking him if he was afraid of the four-footed animals of Gujarat.

“I take inspiration from the donkey because I work for people day and night... donkeys are loyal to their master,” he had said in Bahraich to counter the SP chief’s reference to donkeys of Gujarat in a poll meeting earlier in Raebareli.

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