In the second phase of polls in Uttar Pradesh the notification for filing of nomination papers will be issued on Monday 59 seats will be up for grabs.
The constituencies,which will go to the polls on February 11,are spread over nine districts in the eastern part of the state,some bordering Bihar and Nepal. The nine districts are Sant Kabir Nagar,Maharajganj,Gorakhpur,Kushinagar,Deoria,Azamgarh,Mau,Ballia and Ghazipur.
In the last Assembly elections,the BSP had won 31 seats,the SP 18,the BJP 7 while the Congress could win only one. Two seats had gone to Independents.
The region has substantial a Muslim presence,but the eyes will be on Azamgarh the place frequently visited by Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh to bring the community into the Congress fold. Also,the area has a large number of weavers for whom the Congress-led UPA government some time ago announced a welfare package.
Of the 10 seats in Azamgarh,the BSP had won 6 and the SP 4 in 2007. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections,BJPs Ramakant Yadav won the Azamgarh seat while the Lalganj (reserved) seat was won by BSPs Dr Baliram. The emergence of a local outfit Ulema Council had disturbed the SPs Muslim-Yadav combination in Azamgarh.
This time one the important candidates in the district in the fray is Assembly Speaker Sukhdeo Rajbhar whom the BSP has fielded from Deedarganj a new seat formed by the delimitation. Among the Congress candidates is retired high court judge K K Mishra from Azamgarh (Sadar) seat. He is pitted against SPs D P Yadav,a seven-time MLA.
Former Rajya Sabha member Balihari Babu,who joined the Congress party after his expulsion from the BSP,is the Congress choice for Lalganj (reserved). He was an associate of BSP founder Kanshiram.
The BJP has fielded party MP Ramakant Yadavs son Arun Yadav from Jalalpur,wife Ranjana Yadav from Nizamabad,and nephew Virendra Yadav from Phoolpur Pawai.
In neighbouring Gorakhpur district,the BJP is facing a serious problem after its MP Yogi Adityanath expressed his disappointment over inducting tainted BSP minister Babu Singh Kushwaha. The BJP MP has decided not to campaign for the party.
The BSP has also suffered a setback in the region. Rajmati Nishad,wife of former BSP minister Jamuna Nishad has joined the SP and also won the by-election as SP nominee from Pipraich,her late husbands seat. Besides,former forest minister Fateh Bahadur Singh,who was denied ticket,is contesting as an Independent from Campierganj.
Two important candidates in the region are BJP state president Surya Pratap Shahi who is in the fray from Deorias Pathardeva seat and BSP state president and Panchayat Raj Minister Swami Prasad Maurya who is contesting from Kushinagars Padrauna seat. Maurya had won the by-election from Padrauna after it was vacated by Union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas RPN Singh,after his election to the Lok Sabha in 2009.
The Ansari brothers,namely Mukhtar Ansari and Sibghatullaha Ansari,are contesting from Mau and Mohammadabad under the banner of their own outfit,Quami Ekta Dal. In Ballia,SPs chief whip in the state Assembly Ambika Choudhari is contesting from Fefana seat while partys state general secretary Om Prakash Singh,who had lost the 2007 elections,is in the fray from Zamania seat in Ghazipur district.
Besides,Peace Party president Dr Mohammad Ayub is contesting from Khalilabad while his son Irfan is a candidate from Mubarakpur in Azamgarh district.