The phase III polling for Uttar Pradesh Assembly on February 19 will be a virtual litmus test for the ruling Samajwadi Party
(SP), since the Yadav clan
pocket boroughs of Etawah and adjoining districts would witness voting in this round.
A total of 69 Assembly constituencies across 12 districts are going to poll on Sunday in Phase III, including Lucknow, Unnao, Kanpur, Kanpur Dehat, Kannauj, Farrukhabad, Hardoi, Mainpuri, Etawah, Auraiya, Barabanki and Sitapur.
This phase would not only test the SP’s political clout in Etawah, Mainpuri and Auraiya districts, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would also face its own test in largely the urban constituencies of Lucknow, Unnao, Kanpur etc.
While, the SP
in 2012 UP election had won nearly 80 per cent of the 69 seats going to poll on February 19, the BJP had swept the parliamentary poll in 2014 winning all the Lok Sabha seats in this region barring Kannauj and Mainpuri, which were won by the ruling Yadav family candidates.
In run up to the third phase of polling, top leaders of the respective parties have been campaigning in the different constituencies to drum up support to their candidates. The canvassing for this round would come to an end on Friday.
So far, the electioneering has witnessed BJP mascot and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) President Mayawati, SP
President and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh
Singh Yadav, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) President Ajit Singh, Union Minister Smriti Irani, UP Congress Committee (UPCC) President Raj Babbar etc hitting the dusty campaign trail.
Prominent faces in fray in this round include Mulayam’s younger daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav
and former UPCC president and now BJP nominee Rita Bahuguna Joshi. Both are contesting from Lucknow Cantonment constituency, which is currently held by Joshi.
Others in fray comprise former UP cabinet minister Shivpal
Singh Yadav, BSP turncoat and now BJP nominee Brijesh Pathak, UP ministers Ravidas Mehrotra and Abhishek Mishra, Ashutosh Tandon, Congress leader P L Punia’s son Tanuj Punia etc.
has campaigned in support of only two candidates in this poll so far -- Shivpal
and Aparna. After being removed as the SP
chief last month, Mulayam
is believed to be miffed with Akhilesh
and his coterie.
In this phase, 826 candidates are trying their luck, while over 24 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise.