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Polling begins in 15 Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha seats

Wednesday, 7 May 2014 - 8:17am IST | Agency: PTI

Polling for 15 seats in the crucial fifth phase of Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh, to decide the fate of 243 candidates, including two scions of Nehru-Gandhi family, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and BJP National Secretary Varun Gandhi started peacefully this morning.

"The polling has started peacefully at 7 am and will continue till 6 pm", UP Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha said.

This phase is also crucial for Congress as of 15 seats spread over 17 districts, seven were won by the party in 2009 polls while five seats went to BSP and SP had won three.

The BJP which could not open account in these 15 seats, this time is confident of turning the tide in its favour.

The campaigning was marked by mighty show by both Congress and BJP, with Rahul's sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra coming to the fore for her brother in Amethi, even as BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi entered the Congress scion's turf to counter the family effect.

Seats where polling is going on included Amethi, Sultanpur, Pratapgarh, Faizabad, Gonda, Bahraich, Shravasti, Phoolpur, Ambedkarnagar, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Bhadohi, Kaushambi, Allahabad and Kaisarganj.

More than 2.6 crore electorate, including 1.37 crore male and 1.19 crore female are expected to exercise their franchise in the this phase.

While maximum number of 34 candidates are in fray from Amethi, minimum of 10 candidates are contesting from Bahraich constituency.

Besides grandsons of former PM Indira Gandhi - Rahul and Varun contesting from adjacent Amethi and Sultanpur seats, this phase would also decide fate of a number of stalwarts, including Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma (Gonda) and cricketer-turned-politician Mohd Kaif (Phulpur).

Congress state president Nirmal Khatri (Faizabad), poet-turned-politician Kumar Vishwas, and "bahu" of tinsel town and BJP Rajya Sabha member Smriti Irani, are also in the fray.

In Amethi, while Vishwas is banking on the power of "aam aadmi", Irani is trying to cash in on Modi wave and by highlighting "lack of development" in Rahul's 10-year as MP.

As Congress star campaigner Priyanka Gandhi campaigned extensively for her brother Rahul - holding meetings and roadshow - the Congress Vice-President himself undertook a whirlwind tour of his constituency and attempted to strike an emotional chord with the electorate.

In Gonda, Beni Prasad Verma is seeking a second term from Gonda. The Congress leader, who has at times embarassed his own party leaders with his remarks, is said to be facing a stiff resistance from BJP and SP candidates.

Congress' Nirmal Khatri will also face an uphill task to retain Faizabad.

BJP's Varun Gandhi has shifted his base from Pilibhit, from where he was elected last time, to Sultanpur which is adjacent to his cousin Rahul's Amethi constituency.

Congress has pitted Amita Singh, wife of sitting Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, in Sultanpur against Varun.

India's former international cricketer, Mohd Kaif will not find it easy making his Lok Sabha debut from Phulpur constituency.

In 2009 Loksabha polls there was 43.37 per cent polling while in 2012 assembly polls the percentage was 67.33.


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