Polling for 14 seats in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh would be held on Wednesday to decide the fate of 233 candidates, including political heavyweights Sonia Gandhi and Rajnath Singh. Three Union Ministers and chairperson of a national commission are also in the fray in this phase which covers Bundelkhand region and parts of central UP.
The focus would be on Rae Bareli and Lucknow Lok Sabha seats from where Congress President Sonia Gandhi and BJP President Rajnath Singh are in the fray. Sonia, who is contesting from her traditional Rae Bareli, has no major contestant against her with SP deciding not to field its candidate against her.
The prestigious Lucknow Lok Sabha seat, which is in limelight with the entry of BJP national president Rajnath Singh in the fray, is set to witness a tricky contest. Rajnath, who is facing a four-cornered fight, has two tasks at hand - first to maintain legacy of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and second to ensure a victory margin matching with his political stature.
Ever since the Ram temple movement, BJP has never lost the Lucknow seat. The people of the city had elected Vajpayee for five-times on the trot between 1991 to 2004. Rajnath, a sitting MP from Ghaziabad, is facing challenge from former UP Congress state president and sitting MLA Rita Bahuguna Joshi. Joshi contested the 2009 Lok Sabha election, but lost to Lalji Tandon of BJP by a margin of 37,000 votes.
Minister of State in Akhilesh government Abhishek Mishra and minister in previous BSP government Nakul Dubey are also in fray.
Mohanlalganj, which is adjacent to Lucknow seat, is witnessing a triangular fight between two former ministers Kaushal Kishore, R K Chaudhary and sitting SP MP Sushila Saroj.
While Kaushal Kishore is contesting on BJP ticket, Chaudhary has been fielded by BSP.
In Kanpur, Union Coal Minister Sriprakash is facing stiff competition from former BJP national president Murli Manohar Joshi, who has shifted from Varanasi after Narendra Modi decided to contest from the holy city.
Election in Bundelkhand has heated up with the entry of former Madhya pradesh Chief Minister and sitting BJP MLA from Charkhari Uma Bharti. Bharti is pitted against Union Minister of State for Rural Development Pradeep Jain Aditya, who would be trying to retain his seat. Bharti, who is banking largely on a Modi wave, is promising to create a separate Bundelkhand state within three years of being voted to power.
In Barabanki, Chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Castes P L Punia is banking on the development works done by him in the area. Union Minister of State for Human Resource Jitin Prasada is facing contest from former MP Dawood Ahmad of BSP in Dhaurahra seat.
This phase is specially important for Congress as out of 22 seats won by the party in 2009 Lok Sabha polls, six were from this phase. SP has 4, BSP has three and BJP has only one seat.
Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha said that total of 233 candidates are in fray in the fourth phase, whose fate will be decided by 2.4 crore votes. This includes 1.3 crore men and 1.09 crore women.
Seats for which polling would be held include Dhaurahra, Sitapur, Mishrikh, Unnao, Mohanlalganj, Lucknow, Rae Bareli, Kanpur, Jalaun, Jhansi, Hamirpur, Banda, Fatehpur and Barabanki.