Flag march in sensitive areas ahead of 5th phase UP polls
Central forces on Sunday conducted flag march in sensitive areas close to the Terai region in Nepal's foothills which go to polls on Monday along with parts of eastern UP, with all eyes on the Nehru-Gandhi pocket borough Amethi. 51 Assembly constituencies spread across 11 districts, 5 of which border Nepal, will go to polls in the fifth phase.
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.
The districts going to polls in this phase are Balrampur, Gonda, Faizabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Bahraich, Shravasti, Basti, Siddharth Nagar, Sant Kabir Nagar, Amethi and Sultanpur.
Due to death of Samajwadi Party candidate Chandrashekhar Kanaujia in Alapur (Ambedkar Nagar), the EC has announced a 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 had 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. Gonda is close to Nepal and so are Bahraich, Shravasti, Balrampur and Sidhharth Nagar districts.
In all, 608 candidates are in the fray in this phase with a maximum of 24 candidates in Amethi and minimum of six each in Kapilvastu and Etwa seats of Siddharth Nagar district.
1.84 crore voters, including 96 lakh women, will decide the fate of leaders in the fray including 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.
The run-up to the high-decibel campaign for the fifth phase saw a free flow of words like "donkey, Kasab and kabootar", taking the level of speeches by leaders of key parties to a new low.
As the war of words among rival parties got uglier, PM Narendra Modi had hit back at Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav for his "donkey" remark, asking him if he was afraid of the four-footed creatures of Gujarat.
The PM's reaction came as the UP CM advised megastar Amitabh Bachchan "not to advertise for the donkeys of Gujarat".
As if the "donkey" remark was not enough, BSP supremo Mayawati had hit back at BJP president Amit Shah after he used the acronym "KASAB" for Congress, SP and BSP, saying, "There cannot be a bigger Kasab than him."
Shah had said, "Until Uttar Pradesh gets rid of K-A-S-A-B, there will be no development in the state. Ka (in Hindi) is for Congress, Sa for Samajwadi Party and Ba for BSP."