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Uttar Pradesh Elections 2017: Campaign for phase-IV polling draws to close

Assembly segments in Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s Raebareli Lok Sabha constituency will also go to polls in this phase. (PTI)

Hectic campaigning, punctuated by bitter personal jibes, came to a close this evening in 53 Assembly constituencies spread over 12 districts of Uttar Pradesh that will go to polls in the fourth phase on Thursday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati were among the host of leaders who made a beeline to backward and water-scarce Bundelkhand region, which also figures in phase-IV of polling. Assembly segments in Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s Raebareli Lok Sabha constituency will also go to polls in this phase. Other districts going to polls in the fourth phase are Pratapgarh, Kaushambi, Allahabad, Jalaun, Jhansi, Lalitpur, Mahoba, Banda, Hamirpur, Chitrakoot and Fatehpur. During the highly surcharged campaigning, Modi repeatedly targeted the SP-Congress alliance and the BSP for corruption in their regime.

“SCAM stands for SP, Congress, Akhilesh and Mayawati,” was Modi’s refrain when he appealed to the voters of Bundelkhand to get rid of them. As the prime minister termed BSP as “Behenji Sampatti Party”, Mayawati in her instant retort said the initials of Narendra Damodardas Modi stood for “Mr. Negative Dalit Man”, escalating political temperature with such tit-for-tat barbs. “Narendra Damodardas Modi means Mr. Negative Dalit Man, he is anti-dalit…this negative dalit man does not like that common people give small contributions in running the BSP movement which is also run through donations,” an irked Mayawati said.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav held a roadshow in Allahabad, while racing against time BJP president Amit Shah held a parallel roadshow in ‘Sangam Nagari’, as Allahabad is also called, claiming that the BJP was poised for absolute majority. Amid the verbal free-for-all, Akhilesh referred to an advertisement of the tourism department of Gujarat, where Modi was CM before assuming the office of prime minister. Without taking any name, he advised megastar Amitabh Bachchan, “do not advertise for the donkeys of Gujarat”. BJP took exception to such “cheap remarks”, with its UP General Secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak saying, “After family drama, SP is now dabbling in filmy drama.”

The fate of 680 candidates will be decided by 1.84 crore voters including 84,000 women and 1,032 of third gender. The maximum number of 26 candidates are in Allahabad North, while only six candidates are in fray in Khaga (Fatehpur), Manjhanpur (Kaushambi) and Kunda (Pratapgarh). In 2012 polls, out of the 53 seats in this phase, SP had won 24, BJP 5, BSP 15, Congress 6 and ‘others’ 3.

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Prominent among those in the fray are sitting MLA Aradhana Mishra from Rampur Khas (Pratapgarh), who is daughter of Congress MP Pramod Tiwari, and Independent MLA and minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, who is again contesting from his traditional Kunda (Pratapgarh) seat. In Sonia’s constituency Raebareli, Aditi Singh is contesting on Congress ticket, BSP turncoat Swami Prasad Maurya’s son Utkarsh Maurya is in fray from Unchahar seat, while Leader of Opposition Gaya Charan Dinkar is contesting from Naraini (Banda) seat. Senior SP leader Reoti Raman Singh’s son Ujjwal Raman Singh is in the race from Karchana (Allahabad) seat.