Battle for UP: 7th phase marks end of fiercely contested poll

Lucknow, March 6 (IANS) As the curtain comes down on the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, with just a few hours left for the final and seventh phase of polling on Monday, the stakes have reached an all-time high for major political players in Uttar Pradesh.
A total of 54 Assembly constituencies of Purvanchal will go for polling on March 7 while counting for all the phases will be done on March 10.
The districts going to polls in the final phase are Azamgarh, Mau, Jaunpur, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur, Bhadohi and Sonbhadra.
According to the Chief Electoral Officer, Ajay Kumar Shukla, all necessary arrangements have been made for free, fair and transparent polling in the seventh phase.
A total of 613 candidates will be trying their luck in this phase on the 54 seats which include 11 reserved for the Scheduled Castes and two for the Scheduled Tribes by an electorate consisting around 2.06 crores.
This final round will also be a test of the alliances carved by both the BJP and Samajwadi Party with small caste-based parties.
BJP’s allies Apna Dal (Sonelal) and Nishad Party and Akhilesh Yadav’s new friends Apna Dal (K), Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) of Om Prakash Rajbhar and others have been trying to rally their supporters.
Once considered a stronghold of the Samajwadi Party, the region saw BJP making inroads in 2017 by winning 29 seats along with its allies Apna Dal (4) and SBSP (3).
The BSP got six seats and Samajwadi Party 11 seats.
For the Samajwadi Party, its patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav made another rare appearance in Jaunpur to drum up support for Lucky Yadav, son of his long-time associate late Parasnath Yadav in the fray from Malhani seat.
Mulayam Singh had earlier campaigned for his son and party president Akhilesh Yadav on Karhal seat in Mainpuri.
Prominent contestants in this phase include UP ministers Neelkanth Tiwari, Anil Rajbhar, Ravindra Jaiswal, Girish Yadav and Rama Shankar Singh Patel.
Dara Singh Chauhan, who had resigned from the Yogi Adityanath cabinet and joined the Samajwadi Party, is also contesting from Ghosi in Mau.
SBSP president Om Prakash Rajbhar (Zahoorabad), Dhananjay Singh (Malhani-Jaunpur) as JD(U) candidate and Abbas Ansari, son of mafia turned politician Mukhtar Ansari, from Mau Sadar seat are other prominent candidates in the final phase.
The BJP is going all out to retain its bastion while the Samajwadi Party is eyeing to regain the constituencies it won in the 2012 Assembly elections.
Also, the seventh and last phase of UP Assembly elections will be a litmus test for allies on both the sides– from Anupriya Patel in the BJP-led alliance to Om Prakash Rajbhar in the SP-led alliance.
In this election, the BJP has fielded 48 candidates out of 54 seats on the party symbol while its ally Apna Dal (S) and Nishad Party have fielded 3-3 candidates each.
On the other hand, Samajwadi Party has fielded 45 candidates on its symbol while its ally SBSP has fielded 7 candidates and Apna Dal (K) has fielded two candidates.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, BJP president J.P. Nadda, Union Ministers, Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah, have been extensively campaigning in Purvanchal to repeat its 2017 success story.
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been camping at Kabir Chaura Math in Varanasi in an attempt to galvanise the Dalit voters in Purvanchal, who are in significant numbers here.

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