UP Polls 2022 Phase 5: KP Maurya in Fray for Polling, Ayodhya to See Voting

UP Polls 2022: The fifth phase of the elections will span over 12 districts and 61 constituencies.

Hindi Female

Polling in the fifth phase of the seven-phase Uttar Pradesh (UP) elections began on Sunday, 27 February. There are 692 candidates in the fray for this phase of the elections, which will span over 12 districts and 61 constituencies.

The voting started at 7 am and will end at 6 pm, where over 2.24 crore voters will decide the fate of the candidates.

The districts that will cast their vote in this phase are Amethi, Ayodhya, Bahraich, Barabanki, Chitrakoot, Gonda, Kaushambi, Pratapgarh, Prayagraj, Shrawasti and Sultanpur. In addition, one seat in Rae Bareli district, where voting took place on 23 February, will also go to the polls in this phase.

Campaigning for the fifth phase ended at 6 pm on Friday, 25 November.

For the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have addressed several rallies at the poll-bound constituencies.

PM Modi has constantly attacked the opposition on the issues of 'pariwarvaad' and vote bank politics.

The saffron party is facing stiff competition from the Akhilesh Yadav-led SP, Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who toured several poll-bound constituencies.

This phase also plays a pivotal role for the BJP as the contest in Ayodhya will see the ruling party declaring its fulfilment of Ram Mandir that no one else has done so far.

Here's a look at the most notable candidates and the focal constituencies for the fifth phase.


Key Constituencies

Amethi: A high-profile constituency, formerly a bastion of the Congress, Amethi will see a fight between candidates who have defected from their original parties. Sanjay Sinh, also known as the 'Raja of Amethi' and once close to the Gandhi family, will contest on a BJP ticket against Congress' Ashish Shukla, who was once a BJP member.

They will compete against BSP's Ragini Tiwari, SP's Maharaji Prajapati and AAP's Anurag. In the 2017 Assembly elections, BJP's Garima Singh had defeated SP's Gayatri Prajapati by a margin of 64,226 votes. Ram Ji of BSP and Ameeta Sinh of Congress finished third and fourth, respectively.

In 2019, during the Lok Sabha Elections, Smriti Irani of BJP won the seat against Congress's Rahul Gandhi, shattering Congress's stronghold over Amethi.

Both Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra addressed a rally in Amethi on Friday, with Rahul Gandhi blaming the government for the lack of employment. Meanwhile, people of this constituency depend primarily on farming for their livelihood and have been facing stray cattle menace, fertiliser, and electricity issues.

Ayodhya: The district that has always been a hotbed of politics and played a crucial role in the BJP's meteoric rise will see an intense contest on Sunday. This will be the first major election since the landmark 2019 Supreme Court verdict on the Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid case. The seat has always given the saffron party an edge since 1991.

Since 2017, Ayodhya has also witnessed geographical expansion, with the district formerly known as Faizabad also given that name.

Only once, in 2012, did SP manage to get a hold of the district, losing to BJP again in 2017, when BJP's Ved Prakash Gupta defeated SP's Tej Narayan Pandey by a margin of 50,440 votes. Gupta, now, will once again go against Pandey.

BJP's strategy has centred around Hindutva politics, fast-paced development in the 'new Ayodhya' and how the party has ensured the construction of the Ram Mandir, fulfilling its long-due promise. While the BJP decided not to field Yogi Adityanath from Ayodhya, the party would be hoping the construction of the Ram Temple would help them win the votes of the people in the district and those in the nearby regions.

They will also bank on law and order issues, free ration, and successful implementation of the government's welfare schemes. The BJP is also trying to fan the fear that if SP comes to power, it will stop the construction of the Ram Temple.

Meanwhile, Akhilesh Yadav has gone hopping temples, and the party has said that Ram belongs to SP as much as anyone else. The party has also said it would build the temple better and faster. SP has employed a soft Hindutva strategy to counter the hardcore Hindutva push of the BJP.

While it has given fewer tickets to Muslim candidates this time, the party would still depend on the solidarity of the Muslims and the OBCs.

Allahabad South: The seat, which comes under the Allahabad Lok Sabha constituency, is one of the 12 seats in the Allahabad district, renamed Prayagraj. It is represented by BJP's Nand Gopal Gupta, a minister in Yogi Adityanath's cabinet. Gupta will be up against Raees Chandra Shukla of the SP and Aplana Nishad of the Congress.

In the 2017 Assembly Elections, Gupta had defeated SP's Parvez Ahmad by 28,587 votes.

Barabanki: The constituency is considered an SP stronghold. The party's candidate Dharamraj Singh Yadav had won in the 2017 Assembly election, defeating BSP's Surendra Singh by 29,704 votes. In fact, Yadav has won all assembly polls from Barabanki in the past. He will again contest from the seat and take on BJP's Ramkumari Maurya.

Interestingly, the Barabanki assembly constituency falls under the Barabanki Lok Sabha seat, which was won by Upendra Singh Rawat of the BJP in 2019. Rawat had defeated SP's Ram Sagar Rawat by 110,140 votes.

Chitrakoot Sadar: Congress' Nirmala Bharti will go against Chandrika Prasad Upadhyay of BJP and Anil Pradhan Patel of SP. Upadhyay had won the seat in 2017 when he beat SP's Veer Singh by a margin of 26,936 votes. Meanwhile, Bharti, who is also a member of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), had won the 2016 Panchayat election from here.


Key Candidates

Keshav Prasad Maurya: The UP deputy chief minister and the party's biggest OBC face is contesting from Sirathu in Kaushambi and will go against Apna Dal (Kamerawadi) candidate Pallavi Patel. Pallavi is the younger sister of union minister Anupriya Patel, whose faction Apna Dal (Sonelal) continues to be with the BJP.

Aradhana Mishra: The Congress legislative party leader is contesting from Rampur Khas in Pratapgarh. The daughter of veteran Congressmen and stalwart of UP politics Pramod Tiwari, she defeated BJP candidate Nagesh Pratap Singh by 17,066 votes in 2017. The Congress would be hoping for another win for Aradhana, while the BJP would be hoping for Nagesh Pratap Singh to spring a surprise this time.

Raghuraj Pratap Singh: Also known as Raja Bhaiya, Singh will contest from the princely estate of Kunda in Pratapgarh and would be hoping for a seventh straight win. Having been representing the Kunda constituency as an independent MLA since 1993, he is contesting on behalf of the Jansatta Dal this time. He will go up against Samajwadi Party's Gulshan Yadav.

Sanjay Sinh: A long term Congress loyalist, the 'Raja of Amethi', left the party to join the BJP in 2019. In 2017, the BJP had fielded his first wife, Garima Singh, from the same seat, who had defeated SP's Gayatri Prajapati by 64,226 votes. However, this time, Garima has been denied the ticket, and Sanjay Sinh is contesting the seat on a ticket from the saffron party. Sinh will take on Ashish Shukla of the Congress party and Maharaji Prajapati of the SP. The 70-year-old has served as MLA from the constituency twice in the 1980s.

Other ministers in the fray are Siddharth Nath Singh from Allahabad West, Rajendra Singh alias Moti Singh from Patti (Pratapgarh), Nand Gopal Gupta Nadi from Allahabad South and Ramapati Shastri from Mankapur (Gonda).


Criminal Cases Against Candidates

A total of 185 of 685 candidates (27 percent) contesting in the fifth phase of the UP elections have declared criminal cases against themselves, according to the report by the UP Election Watch and the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). Also, 141 candidates have admitted 'serious criminal cases'.

In addition, 60 percent of the assembly constituencies have three or more candidates with criminal cases in the fray.

According to the report, 39 of 61 seats (64 percent) are 'Red Alert Constituencies', meaning three or more candidates contesting the polls have declared criminal cases against themselves in these constituencies.

Twelve candidates have declared cases related to crimes against women, while one contestant has declared a case related to rape. Eight candidates have declared cases related to murder against themselves, while 31 have declared 'attempt to murder' cases.

The report is based on the analysis of the self-sworn affidavits of 685 of the 693 candidates. The polls reforms advocacy groups informed that the affidavits of eight candidates could not be scanned as they were incomplete or poorly scanned.


Financial Declaration by the Candidates

Coming to the financial declaration, 246 candidates (36 percent) have declared assets worth over Rs 1 crore, 84 candidates have declared assets worth Rs 5 crore or above, 90 have declared assets between Rs 2 crore and Rs 5 crore, while 150 candidates declared assets between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 2 crore.

The richest three candidates going to the polls in the fifth phase are all BJP candidates.

Mayankeshwar Sharan Singh (Tiloi) declared assets worth over Rs 58 crore, Sindhuja Mishra Senani (Kunda) declared assets worth over Rs 52 crore and Sanjay Sinh (Amethi) with assets worth over Rs 50 crore.

Hira Mani, the independent candidate from Pratapur in Prayagraj, has the lowest assets of just Rs 8,000. He is followed by LJP's Haider Abbas from Meja in Prayagraj, who declared assets worth Rs 8,900. Santosh Kumar, the independent candidate from Kursi in Barabanki, declared assets worth Rs 11,100.

(With inputs from PTI and ANI.)

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