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UP Elections 2022 | From Amethi to Ayodhya: five keenly-watched battles in the next phase of polling this weekend

Four phases of polling, covering 231 of 403 seats, have been completed in the Uttar Pradesh assembly election. The remaining 172 constituencies will vote in three phases on February 27, March 3 and March 7. The results will be declared on March 10, along with the outcome of elections in Goa, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Manipur

February 26, 2022 / 09:46 AM IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally in Amethi on February 24 (ANI image)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally in Amethi on February 24 (ANI image)


Campaigning for the fifth phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections was set to end on Friday, February 25, two days ahead of polling. This round of voting in India’s most populous state will take place in 61 seats across 11 districts, and include Amethi, Ayodhya (Faizabad), Barabanki and Prayagraj (Allahabad).

Key contestants among 685 candidates in the fray include Sanjaya Sinh, a former Congress leader who is contesting this time as a nominee of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from Amethi, part of the parliamentary seat represented by Rahul Gandhi until 2019 when he lost to Smriti Irani.

READ: UP Elections 2022 | Conspicuous by his absence, Rahul Gandhi to hit campaign trail before Phase 5 polling

Other prominent candidates include Ved Prakash Gupta, the BJP legislator from Ayodhya, where he is up against former MLA and Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Tej Narayan Pandey. Nand Gopal Gupta, a minister in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet,  is in the race from his home turf, Allahabad South, and Dharmraj Singh Yadav of the SP is in the fray to defend his seat, Barabanki, in the district of the same name.


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The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Samajwadi Party, the two main challengers in the seven-phase battle for the 403-member state assembly, were engaged in a high-decibel hard-sell on the last day of the campaign. Chief Minister Adityanath offered prayers at the Hanuman Garhi temple in Ayodhya on Friday.

Here are the five contests in the next phase of polling that will be watched keenly: 

Amethi

Sanjaya Sinh, the erstwhile Raja of Amethi, is contesting his first assembly election in more than three decades. Sinh, 70, a former Congress MP, is the BJP candidate from Amethi, where he is taking on Ashish Shukla of his erstwhile party and Maharaji Prajapati of the SP. The assembly seat was represented by BJP’s Garima Singh, Sinh’s first wife, in the outgoing assembly.

Also, read : Uttar Pradesh assembly election: Three richest women candidates in phase five

Sinh served as MLA from the constituency twice in the 1980s. He has also been a Rajya Sabha MP of the Congress, but resigned from the party in 2019 to join the BJP. Amethi is one of the three assembly segments of  the Amethi Lok Sabha seat represented by Rahul Gandhi until 2019. Gandhi, who has not campaigned in UP so far, is expected to address a rally in Amethi on Friday.

Ayodhya  

Another high-profile contest on Sunday will be for Ayodhya, one of the five seats in the district, erstwhile Faizabad, where BJP MLA Ved Prakash Gupta is up against SP’s Tej Narayan Pandey, or Pawan Pandey. Gupta won the seat in 2017 defeating Pandey. Polling on Sunday will be the first big election in Ayodhya after the 2019 Supreme Court verdict on the Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid case that favoured the construction of a temple on a disputed plot of land and awarded an alternative site for the construction of a mosque.

This round of voting is scheduled to be held for 61 seats across 11 districts, including Amethi, Ayodhya (Faizabad), Barabanki, Prayagraj (Allahabad), on February 27. This round of voting is scheduled to be held for 61 seats across 11 districts, including Amethi, Ayodhya (Faizabad), Barabanki, Prayagraj (Allahabad), on February 27.

The seat has been with the BJP since 1991. The saffron party lost it only once, in 2012, when Pawan Pandey won with a slim margin of 5,405 votes. The BJP won the seat again in 2017. Adityanath has visited the town, where a grand Ram temple is being built, about 45 times in the last five years.

 Allahabad South

The Allahabad South seat, represented by the BJP’s Nand Gopal Gupta, a minister in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet, is one of the 12 seats in Allahabad district, renamed Prayagraj. Gupta is up against Raees Chandra Shukla of the SP and Aplana Nishad of the Congress. The assembly seat comes under the Allahabad Lok sabha constituency. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP candidate Rita Bahuguna Joshi won the Allahabad Lok Sabha seat.

Also, read | SP, BJP discuss problems facing common people only under pressure: Priyanka Gandhi

In 2017, the BJP won seven seats from here, and SP three. Apna Dal, a BJP ally, and the Bahujan Samaj Party won one seat each.

Barabanki 

Barabanki is considered an SP stronghold and is represented by Dharmraj Singh Yadav, who has won all assembly polls from the constituency in the past. Yadav is again contesting this seat, one of the five in the district, against Ramkumari Maurya of the BJP.

The Barabanki assembly constituency falls under the Barabanki Lok sabha seat, won by BJP’s Upendra Singh Rawat in 2019 by a margin of 110,140 votes, defeating Ram Sagar Rawat of the SP.

 Chitrakoot Sadar 

The Congress has fielded Nirmala Bharti in the race for the Chitrakoot Sadar seat. Bharti, a postgraduate, won the 2016 Panchayat election from here. She is also associated with the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) and is up against Chandrika Prasad Upadhyay of the BJP and Anil Pradhan Patel of the SP. Upadhyay won the seat in 2017.



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Gulam Jeelani is a journalist with over 12 years of reporting experience. Based in New Delhi, he covers politics and governance for Moneycontrol.
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