UP Polls: Crucial Fourth Phase on Feb 19

Faisal Fareed
Daijiworld Media Network - Lucknow

Lucknow, Feb 18: The fourth phase of polling on Sunday February 19 will be a litmus test for Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi, Samajwadi Party (SP) scion Akhilesh Yadav and even former Prime Minister (PM) and ailing Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The fourth phase of polling will be conducted on Sunday for 56 seats spanning over 11 districts. Nearly 1.72 crore voters will exercise their franchise. In the 2007 assembly election, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has won 25 while its bete noir SP had won 14 seats.

The fourth phase is important in the sense that polling will be held in Sonia Gandhi's parliamentary constituency Raibareilly and Rahul Gandhi's Amethi. Already, Priyanka had camped there and taken over the reins of the campaigning in her hands. Both Sonia and Rahul had also addressed meetings. It was in 1985 elections when Congress made a clean sweep in these districts, since then it has failed to win all seats. Priyanka had asked for winning all the seats as a gift.

For SP scion, Akhilesh Yadav the fourth phase is also important. Polling will also be held in his parliamentary constituency Kannauj. Akhilesh is piped to be in race for Chief Minister (CM) by his party and thus his influence will be at test at his home turf.

For the BJP also it is testing time as it is the first assembly election it is contesting in the absence of Vajpayee. The major attention will be in Lucknow which was Vajpayee's parliamentary constituency. Now with Vajpayee out of the scene, the legacy was handed over to Lalji Tandon who retained the Lucknow parliamentary seat in Vajpayee's name.

However, things are not so rosy for BJP this time in the city of nawabs - Lucknow. In 2007 it won all four urban seats but the going is tough this time. Tandon's son Ashutosh Tandon Gopalji is himself contesting from Lucknow North while senior-most BJP leader of the state Kalraj Mishra is contesting from Lucknow East. It remains to be seen whether BJP will manage to emerge victorious in the absence of Vajpayee aura.


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Title: UP Polls: Crucial Fourth Phase on Feb 19

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