Polling for 49 Uttar Pradesh Assembly seats, with SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Azamgarh Lok Sabha constituency being in focus, will be held on Saturday in the sixth phase amid tight security arrangements.
Assembly segments of Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency of firebrand BJP leader Yogi Adityanath, and Mau, where jailed gangster-turned-MLA Mukhtar Ansari is in fray, also figure in this penultimate phase of polling that will also cover some districts bordering Nepal.
Around 1.72 crore voters, including 94.60 lakh men and 77.84 lakh women, are eligible to cast their votes in this round to decide the fate of 635 candidates.
The districts going to polls in Phase VI are Mau, Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Deoria, Azamgarh and Ballia.
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Azamgarh Lok Sabha constituency has 10 assembly seats, of which SP had won nine in 2012, but this time Mulayam has not addressed a single meeting in his parliamentary constituency.
The prestige of Union minister Kalraj Mishra, who represents Deoria in the Lok Sabha, too is at stake, besides that of Adityanath.
BJP is contesting 45 seats and its ally Apna Dal one. Another BJP partner Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party is contesting 3 seats.
While BSP has fielded candidates on all 49 seats, SP is contesting 40 seats and Congress 9 seats under an alliance.
Prominent candidates in this phase include BSP turncoat Swami Prasad Maurya from Padrauna (Kushinagar), former BJP state president Surya Pratap Shahi from Pathardeva (Deoria), Shyam Bahadur Yadav (SP), son of former Governor Ram Naresh Yadav from Fulpur Pawai (Azamgarh), SP turncoats Ambika Chowhdury and Narad Rai, who are contesting on BSP ticket from Fefna (Ballia) and Ballia Sadar respectively.
Mukhtar is contesting from Mau and his son Abbas is in fray from adjoining Ghosi seat in Mau district.
In the 2012 Assembly polls, of the 49 seats, 27 were won by the SP, 9 by BSP, 7 by BJP, 4 by Congress and 2 by others.
There will be 17,926 polling booths in this phase.
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The highest number of 23 candidates are contesting from Gorakhpur and the least candidates, numbering seven are in pitted for Mohammadabad Gohna seat in Mau district.
Central Para Military Forces have already reached the constituencies and carried out flag march in sensitive areas.
Indo-Nepal border with Maharajganj and Gorakhpur, and border with Bihar have been sealed.
Police patrolling has been intensified along inter district borders and barriers have been erected on highways to keep an eye on movements of vehicles. Campaigning for the sixth phase saw BJP state president K P Maurya likening rivals SP,Congress and BSP to different types of venomous “snakes” and “social cancer” and urging people to eliminate them by voting for the BJP.
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Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav countered BJP saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi has conceded defeat in the polls by talking about a hung house.
While mustering votes for BJP, Modi sought to prove wrong the prophets of doom after demonetisation saying the latest GDP data showed note-ban did not affect growth rate but rather improved it.
Mocking economists, he said, “Hard work, in fact, is much more powerful than Harvard.”
Sounding highly optimistic of the poll outcome for BJP, Modi said the debate now is whether BJP will get two-third or three-fourth majority.
“Never have elections gone one way like this... there had been no dearth in enthusiasm of voters in all five phases,” he said.
The PM also caught UP Chief Minister on the wrong foot and cited government website to nail him.
“Life in Uttar Pradesh is short and uncertain... Uttar Pradesh resembles Saharan Africa,” Modi said quoting a para from the state government’s official website up.gov.in.
On the last day of campaigning BJP President Amit Shah held a road show in Gorakhpur yesterday. Similar road shows were organised at Kushinagar and Azamgarh.
During her campaign, BSP supremo Mayawati said the public is “disenchanted with BJP and SP” due to the “wrong policies” of the Union and the state governments, and accused Modi and Shah of “dreaming to destroy the state”.