The sensitive Terai region close to the foothills of Nepal and parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh are ready for the fifth phase of polling on Monday in 51 Assembly constituencies spread across 11 districts.
The districts going to polls in this phase are Balrampur, Gonda, Faizabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Bahraich, Shravasti, Siddharth Nagar, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Amethi, and Sultanpur.
Due to death of Samajwadi Party candidate Chandrashekhar Kanaujia in Alapur (Ambedkar Nagar), the EC has announced fresh date of voting in this constituency on March 9.
The ruling Samajwadi Party had won 37 seats out of 52 (total seats in this phase including Alapur) in 2012. While BJP and Congress won five seats each, BSP had won three and Peace Party won two seats.
With certain districts not far from the Nepal border, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it a point in his speech in Gonda to refer to the Kanpur train tragedy in which 150 people were killed.
Modi had said the accident was due to a “conspiracy” and the perpetrators carried it out “sitting across the border” in Nepal.
“The Kanpur rail accident in which hundreds of people were killed was a conspiracy and conspirators carried it out sitting across the border,” he had said. Gonda is close to Nepal and so are Bahraich, Shravasti, Balrampur and Sidhharth Nagar districts.
Modi appealed to voters to back BJP, saying, “Gonda needs to elect only those who are full of patriotism...not a single seat should go to SP and BSP...100 per cent seats should be won by the BJP.”
Shravasti, Balrampur, Sultanpur and Ambedkar Nagar districts had emerged as a stronghold of Samajwadi Party which won all the seats there in 2012.
In all, 608 candidates are in the fray in this phase with the maximum of 24 candidates in Amethi and minimum of six each in Kapilvastu and Etawah seats of Siddharth Nagar district.
Prominent contestants in this phase include controversial minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati (SP), who will be facing Amita Singh (Congress) and Garima Singh (BJP) in Amethi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Rahul Gandhi.
Amita is the wife of Congress leader Sanjay Singh, while Garima is his estranged spouse, making it a “rani versus rani” contest.
1.84 crore voters, including 96 lakh women, will also decide the fate of 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.