Temperatures are rising all around and as Uttar Pradesh prepares to vote in the sixth phase of the general election, the stakes are getting higher for all political parties and alliances.
The sixth phase in Uttar Pradesh, polling for which will be held on May 12, is a major challenge for the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) which had won 13 of the 14 seats in this phase in 2014.
The BJP had won all seats except Azamgarh which was won by Mulayam Singh Yadav of Samajwadi Party.
BJP’s ally Om Prakash Rajbhar, who recently walked out of the alliance, is vigorously campaigning against the BJP in constituencies where he holds sway.
BJP’s hopes now rest on the intensive campaigning by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
This phase is also crucial for the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which is contesting 10 of the 14 seats. The Samajwadi Party is contesting on four seats in this phase. The caste arithmetic on most seats in this phase favours the SP-BSP alliance.
The 14 seats that will go to polls in the sixth phase are Sultanpur, Pratapgarh, Allahabad, Phulpur, Ambedkar Nagar, Shravasti, Dumariaganj, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Lalganj, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Machhlishahr and Bhadohi.
The alliance of SP and BSP now poses a major challenge to the BJP which is grappling with disgruntled leaders at the grassroots level in this phase.
The party has put up its ministers in Ambedkar Nagar and Allahabad. Uttar Pradesh Minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi is contesting the Allahabad seat while the outgoing BJP MP Shyama Charan Gupta has migrated to SP and is contesting from another seat.
Allahabad is the home of Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Maurya and two Ministers, Siddhartha Nath Singh and Nand Gopal Nandi, and winning this seat is a matter of prestige for the BJP.
Another UP Minister, Mukut Bihari Varma, is contesting the Ambedkar Nagar seat.
The outgoing BJP MP from Machhlishahr, Ram Charitra Nishad, has also joined the SP.
Local BJP leaders on these seats were clamouring for tickets and are said to be sulking after being denied the same.
Union Minister Maneka Gandhi is contesting the Sultanpur seat while her son Varun Gandhi has shifted to Pilibhit. Maneka Gandhi is pitted against Sanjay Sinh of Congress. Sanjay Sinh was a close associate of the late Sanjay Gandhi.
Turning this battle into a triangular contest is Sonu Singh of BSP.
The prestige of SP President Akhilesh Yadav is at stake in Azamgarh where he is pitted against BJP’s star candidate Dinesh Lal Yadav Nirahua.
This is the first time that Akhilesh Yadav is contesting from Azamgarh and the BJP campaign is focusing on the fact that he is an ‘outsider’.
In Pratapgarh, known to be a Congress stronghold, it is Raghuraj Pratap Singh a.k.a. Raja Bhaiyya, an independent legislator, who has queered the pitch. Raja Bhaiyya wields considerable clout in the district and has fielded his candidate in Pratapgarh on his newly formed Jansatta Party.
Campaigning for the eight Lok Sabha seats in Bihar going to the polls in the penultimate phase on Sunday ended peacefully on Friday.
Out of the 40 parliamentary constituencies in the state, 24 had voted in the previous phases of Lok Sabha polls, while the remaining eight will vote in the seventh and final phase on May 19.
The following seats in the flood-prone, Bhojpuri speaking north Bihar region will go to the polls on Sunday — Gopalganj, Siwan, Maharajganj, East Champaran, West Champaran, Valmiki Nagar, Sheohar and Vaishali. More than 1.38 lakh voters will decide the fate of 127 candidates in the sixth phase of polling.
The nearly three-week-long canvassing saw top leaders from the BJP-JD(U)-LJP combine and those from the opposition Grand Alliance comprising RJD, Congress, RLSP, HAM and VIP campaign in the state. The Left parties and the BSP too hit the campaign trail.
The long spell of campaign witnessed many war of words, and was occasionally marred by personal attacks and abuses hurled at each other by the political leaders across party lines.
The run-up to the elections saw hectic campaigning by the star campaigners of the NDA alliance, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi.
The bigwigs who campaigned for the opposition Grand Alliance included Congress President Rahul Gandhi, RJD leader and former Chief Minister Rabri Devi, leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav, RLSP chief and former Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha and former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi.
The sixth phase of polling will see direct contests between the NDA allies and the opposition Grand Alliance, except in Siwan and East Champaran, which will witness a triangular fight involving the Left party candidates.
The prominent candidates in the fray include Union Minister and BJP leader Radha Mohan Singh (East Champaran), former Union Minister and RJD candidate Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (Vaishali), jailed former MP Mohammad Shahabuddin’s wife Hina Sahab of the RJD (Siwan) and BJP’s Rama Devi, who’s aiming for a hat-trick of wins from Sheohar.
Campaigning ended on Friday in 59 parliamentary constituencies spread over seven states which will go to the polls on Sunday in the penultimate phase of the mega seven-phase electoral exercise.
Voting will take place for 14 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 10 in Haryana, eight seats each in West Bengal, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, seven in Delhi and four in Jharkhand.
On the last day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed public meetings at Rohtak in Haryana, Mandi in Himachal Pradesh and Hoshiarpur in Punjab and hit out at Congress over various issues including over Sam Pitroda’s reported remarks “Hua to hua” on 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
BJP President Amit Shah addressed public meetings at Barwala in Hissar and Charkhi Dadri in Haryana while Congress President Rahul Gandhi addressed rallies in Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh. (IANS)