UP Phase Four: Road Shows, Nasty Verbal Duals Lead to Polling in 53 Seats, across 12 Districts

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The SP-Congress alliance faces yet another challenge where SP won 24 of the 53 seats that are going to polls, across 12 districts. The fate of 680 candidates will be decided in the fourth phase of the polls in UP. As campaigning for the fourth phase ended on Tuesday with top leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Samajwadi Party and the Congress holding road shows, few voters actually seem to be getting influenced by it. One such voter from Udwa village of Raebareli district seems disillusioned by party promises. Udwa village goes to polls now and is a village adopted by Sonia Gandhi under the Saansad Aadarsh Gram Yojana in 2014 launched by Prime Minister . The maximum number of 26 candidates are in Allahabad North, where the sitting Congress MLA Anugrah Narain Singh will contest against Harshavardhan Bajpai of the BJP. Here’s a report by our Associate Editor, Navodita, exclusively for Different Truths.

The voter turnout in the third phase of the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections was slightly lower than the first two phases but an improvement from the figure for the corresponding phase in the last election. The 12 districts that voted recorded a turnout of 61.16% as compared to 59.96% last time in 2012. The SP, which won 55 out of 69 seats in these districts in 2012, has all at stake in this phase. Given that the constituencies included the Yadav family’s traditional strongholds- Etawah, Mainpuri, Etawah-Kannauj – it is also a battle of prestige for Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s party. If district-wise voting is to be analysed, Sitapur recorded the highest average turnout with 68.49%. Three hotly contested seats in Lucknow saw a significant increase in voting percentage. So the big question is- how will voting fare in the fourth phase in Bundelkhand and its neighbouring districts.

The SP-Congress alliance faces yet another challenge where SP won 24 of the 53 seats that are going to polls, across 12 districts. As campaigning for the fourth phase ended on Tuesday with top leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Samajwadi Party and the Congress holding road shows, few voters actually seem to be getting influenced by it. One such voter from Udwa village of Raebareli district seems disillusioned by party promises. Udwa village goes to polls now and is a village adopted by Sonia Gandhi under the Saansad Aadarsh Gram Yojana, in 2014, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  Rajiv, a local, says, “When I heard Sonia Gandhi has adopted our village I was filled with hope. But apart from the electricity situation, the place is sadly the same.” The SP-Congress is struggling here simply because there is no alliance. Udwa is one of the villages in Unchahar constituency, where Congress and SP both have fielded candidates. The youth here, at least for the moment is smitten by Modi. Udwa has around 25 percent of SC and ST population and a sizable “Mauryas”, who fall under the OBC category. It is a first, since 1998, that Sonia Gandhi gave campaigning a miss in her constituency.

Along with , other districts that go to polls are Allahabad, Pratapgarh, Jalaun, , Mahoba, Chitrakoot, Jhansi, Hamirpur, Lalitpur, Banda and . As many as 680 candidates are contesting among which some prominent ones are Aradhna Mishra, of the senior Congress leader Pramod Tiwari; Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya; Utkarsh Maurya, son of the rebel BSP leader S.P. Maurya, who has joined the BJP; Ujjawal Raman Singh, son of senior SP leader Rewati Raman Singh; and the last Assembly’s Leader of Opposition Gaya Charan Dinkar.

The maximum number of 26 candidates are in Allahabad North, where sitting Congress MLA Anugrah Narain Singh will contest against Harshavardhan Bajpai of the BJP. Bajpai’s mother, Ranjana Bajpai, held the position of Mahila Sabha national president and was expelled from the party, on Tuesday, for her involvement in anti-party activities. The voters, here, however, seemed to be a confused lot.

Anju, a maid, who cooks in Civil Line’s posh Lotus Apartments, in this Assembly segment of Allahabad, said that she will vote for Anugrah ji, Kamal ka phool. When reminded that he is a Congress candidate, Haath ka panja, she clarified that her family’s vote is for Modi. She said, Modi has helped us and is good for us. In a month we get 15 kilos of wheat, 10 kilos of rice and 1Kg. sugar for seventy rupees. Pulses, too, are cheaper now.” She added that they have been traditional voters of BSP.  When asked why she does not vote for , she said, “Wo hamare liye kya karti hai? Hamara vote pati hai aur Lucknow mey patthar k hathi banwati hai. Unko Dalit sey kuch lena dena nahi hai.” (What does she do for us? She gets our votes and makes stone elephants in Lucknow. She has nothing to do with Dalit). Here, too, the ‘Modi wave’ seems strong.

The campaigning saw lots of fireworks in this phase where addressing a rally in Fatehpur, Modi said, “If you create a kabristaan in a village, then a shamshaan too should be created. If electricity is given uninterrupted during , then it should be given in Deepavali also.” His political rivals, thus, accused him of communalising the elections once again.

Similarly, Akhilesh Yadav hit the headlines when he advised megastar Amitabh Bachchan, “Please do not advertise for the donkeys of Gujarat,” while referring to a Gujarat Tourism advertisement on the wild ass sanctuary of Kutch. BJP leaders expressed fury over the “cheap statement” by Yadav and termed it his “nervousness over his predictable defeat.”

Amidst such political verbal duels by the top brass of various parties, it is anybody’s guess which way the elections are going to go. We can only wait and watch until March 11 for the final outcome. As UP will have three more phases to go after this, voters continue to look out for more jumlas and statements in eastern and northeast UP.

©Navodita Pande

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Navodita Pande

Navodita Pande

Navodita Pande has been practicing yoga since she was 9 years old in Iyengar Yoga. In April 1995, she performed at the International Yoga Seminar. In January 2003, Navodita taught at Hare Rama Hare Krishna Mandir in New York. Navodita had a Yoga show on NDTV 24x7 and was also the official yoga trainer for Miss Delhi contestants in 2007. She currently teaches Yoga and Reiki to
people in Kanpur.
Navodita Pande
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