February 11, 2012 3:37:01 am
After the heavy turnout of voters in the first phase of elections in Uttar Pradesh,all eyes are on the eastern belt of the state,which goes to the polls in the second phase on Saturday.
Voting will take place in as many as 59 constituencies,spread across nine districts,namely Sant Kabir Nagar,Maharajganj,Gorakhpur,Kushinagar,Deoria,Azamgarh,Mau,Ballia and Ghazipur.
More than 1.94 crore voters will decide the fate of 1,098 candidates in fray,the main among whom are Assembly Speaker Sukhdev from Didarganj,Panchayat Raj Minister and the state BSP president Swami Prasad Maurya from Padruana,state BJP president Surya Pratap Shahi in Pathardev,and Samajwadi Party chief whip in the assembly Ambika Choudhari from Phephna.In the last assembly elections,the BSP had won 31 seats,the SP 18,the BJP 7,while the Congress could win only one seat in these districts. Two seats had gone to the Independents.
Almost all top BJP leaders,including Lal Krishna Advani,Sushma Swaraj,Arun Jaitely and Nitin Gadkari,have camaigned for the Shahi who is facing issues because of internal fissures within the party,and opposition from the BJPs Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath,who had blamed Shahi for the induction of tainted minister Babu Singh Kushwaha in the party. A candidate who claims allegiance to Yogi is contesting against Shahi.
Azamgarh and Mau will a test for Congress attempts to win over Muslims by announcing a special package for Muslims and reservations for backward Muslims within the 27 per cent OBC quota. Although Rahul Gandhi had to face a protest over the Batla House encounter when he visited Azamgarh for campaigning,party general secretary Digvijaya Singh has been visiting the area regularly to address Muslim grievances.
Among Congress candidates in Azamgarh is retired high court judge K K Mishra from Azamgarh Sadar seat. He is pitted against SPs DP 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. Of the 10 seats in Azamgarh,the BSP had won 6 and the SP 4 in 2007. In Gorakhpur,former forest minister Fateh Bahadur Singh,who was denied ticket by BSP,is contesting as a candidate of the Nationalist Congress Party from Campierganj. Former homeopathy minister and sitting MLA Rajesh Tripathi is contesting from Chillupar on BSP ticket against Harishankar Tiwari.
In Mau,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. Besides,Peace Party president Dr Mohammad Ayub is contesting from Khalilabad in Sant Kabir Nagar,while his son Irfan is a candidate from Mubarakpur in Azamgarh district.
From Maharajganj,Amarmani Tripathis son Aman Mani is fielded by SP from Nautanwa,whereas his uncle and former MLA Shyam Narayan Tiwari has been fielded from Pharenda. Amarmani,who was convicted for murder of poet Madhumita Shukla,is undergoing life imprisonment.
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