Clash of titans on cards in fifth phase polling in UP
Lucknow: The fifth phase of polling in 14 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh on Monday will see a clash of titans including Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
The BJP had bagged 12 of these seats in 2014 with the Congress winning Sonia Gandhi's Rae Bareli and Rahul Gandhi's Amethi -- the only two constituencies where the Congress succeeded out of the 80 in the entire state.
Around 2.47 crore people are eligible to vote in Dhaurahra, Sitapur, Mohanlalganj (SC), Lucknow, Banda, Fatehpur, Kaushambi (SC), Barabanki (SC), Faizabad, Bahraich (SC), Kaiserganj and Gonda constituencies where 182 candidates are in the contest. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is contesting on five seats - Dhaurahra, Sitapur, Mohanlalganj, Fatehpur and Kaisarganj.
Its ally Samajwadi Party (SP) is fighting for seven seats -Lucknow, Banda, Kaushambi, Barabanki, Faizabad, Bahraich and Gonda. In Amethi and Rae Bareli, the SP-BSP alliance has not put up any candidate, leaving the two constituencies for the Congress.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is seeking re-election from Lucknow, while his colleague at the Centre Smriti Irani is again taking on Rahul Gandhi in Amethi.
In the Faizabad parliamentary constituency, under which the temple town of Ayodhya falls, sitting BJP MP Lallu Singh is taking on Nirmal Khatri of the Congress. Khatri is a former Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chief.
Former Union minister and Congress candidate Jitin Prasad is contesting from Dhaurahra against former Chambal brigand Malkhan Singh.
Malkhan Singh, 76, has been fielded by Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia, floated by SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav's brother Shivpal Yadav.
On Friday, the final day of campaigning for the fifth phase, BJP chief Amit Shah along with a host of party leaders held a roadshow in Amethi, seeking support for Smriti Irani.
On Friday, Bollywood actor Sonakshi Sinha, the daughter of SP candidate from Lucknow Poonam Sinha, took part in a roadshow in the state capital.
Poonam Sinha's husband, actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who is the Congress candidate from Patna Sahib, had joined her last month when she filed her nomination papers as the Samajwadi Party candidate.
Polling will be held in the state in the next two phases as well.