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Phase that will test Rahul,Rajnath,Ajit

The sixth phase of the UP Assembly polls will cover the region which is most affected by the state government’s land acquisition policy for various projects,including the Yamuna Expressway and township developments.

Written by Sanjay Singh | Lucknow | Published: February 2, 2012 3:14:50 am

The sixth phase of the UP Assembly polls will cover the region which is most affected by the state government’s land acquisition policy for various projects,including the Yamuna Expressway and township developments. Bhatta Parsaul in Gautam Budha Nagar and Tappal in Aligarh,the epicentre of the farmers’ agitation in the recent past,will vote in this phase. The notification for the 68 Assembly seats that will go to polls this phase will be issued on Thursday,and the polling is scheduled to take place on February 28.

The districts where polling will be held in this phase are Sahranpur,Muzaffar Nagar,Baghpat,Meerut,Ghaziabad,Bulandshahr,Gautam Budha Nagar,Aligarh,Hathras,Mathura,Agra,besides the two newly created districts of Prabudha Nagar and Panchasheel Nagar. This region shares boundaries with states like Uttarkhand,Hariyana and Delhi. Prominent among those who are in the fray are Jayant Choudhari,MP from Mathura and Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh’s son,who will be contesting from Mathura,senior BJP leader Hukum Singh from Kairana in Muzaffar Nagar. RLD legislature party leader Kokab Hamid and RLD state president Baba Hardeo are also in the fray. While Hamid is trying to be sixth time lucky by trying to enter the Assembly from Baghpat this time,Hardeo,who was president of the UP Provincial Services Officer,will be contesting from Etmadpur seat in Agra district.

Basic education minister Dharam Singh Saini is contesting election from Nakud seat in Saharanpur district. Power Minister and ruling BSP’s most prominent Brahmin face,Ramvir Upadhayay,is trying his luck from Sikandara Rau in Mahamaya Nagar district. BSP’s two important Jat faces — Agriculture Minister Choudhari Laxmi Narain and Chandravir Singh — are contesting from Chhata seat in Mathura and Saradhana seat in Meerut district respectively.

In Meerut,this phase would test the popularity of former minister Haji Yaqub,whose one brother is a Congress nominee and son is RLD nominee. This phase will also test the popularity of two very senior leaders,former BJP president Rajnath Singh and RLD chief Ajit Singh,though indirectly. Ghaziabad from where Rajnath Singh was elected to the Lok Sabha will vote in this phase. Also Baghpat from where Ajit Singh won in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls will be voting in this phase. This region includes parts considered to be stronghold of Ajit Singh. RLD this time has tied up with the Congress. But in last Assembly election,the party had an electoral alliance with the Samajwadi party,and in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls it joined hands with the BJP.

For the BSP,this phase is also important with Agra,“the Dalit capital” of politics will be voting in this round. The district has nine Assembly seats and the BSP had bagged seven seats in the last Assembly elections. The ruling BSP had surprised last time by bagging votes above the caste line. The BSP had won from 36 seats in the region. Since the region has considerable Muslim population,the BJP always looks for its scope to polarize Hindu votes. In 2007,the party had won 12 seats. The Congress,on the other hand,could win only two seats in the last assembly polls.

The party failed to get any seat in last Lok Sabha polls. Now,it has entered into an alliance with RLD and thus it appears to be in a position to provide a platform to anti-incumbency factor in its favour in this election.

Moreover,Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi had taken everyone by surprise by his padyatra in the region in the wake of police action on farmers protesting against land acquisition in Bhatta Parsaul. He had also visited Tappal to express his solidarity with farmers,besides holding a Kisan Mahapanchayat in Aligarh recently. So,this phase would be a litmus test of Rahul’s popularity too. Since the region has a significant Muslim presence,the Congress will have an opportunity to see if the community’s votes could be won back. The Congress has already given special focus to woo Muslim voters by inducting former SP leader Rashid Masood of Saharanpur. Masood has been also accommodated in the Congress Working Committee. His nephew Imran Masood,who is considered to be Masood’s political heir,is in the fray from Nakud seat.

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