As Uttar Pradesh enters its fourth phase of elections on Wednesday, we take a look at some key candidates battling it out in this state.
Sonia Gandhi: Being a part of the Gandhi family is probably Sonia's biggest asset. Her marriage to ex-prime minister and assassinated son of Indira Gandhi, Rajeev Gandhi, ushered her into the limelight. An Italian by birth, her nationality and alleged 'connections' have been long disputed. She first campaigned from Amethi in the year 1984. Uttar Pradesh has been a favorite for the Gandhi family and this year she steps into a familiar ground. As Rae Bareli steps into polls on April 30, Sonia Gandhi seems confident of the results, after all she is a hat-trick winner from the city. For the past many years, the Congress has held prominence in Rae Bareli. Feroz Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Shiela Kaul and Arun Kumar Nehru won the Lok Sabha seats from this area, thus making it Gandhi- Nehru territory. This year too the Congress president contests from Rae Bareli.
Uma Bharati: The only Sadhvi in Indian politics, Uma Bharati has been a forerunner for the BJP. Having first contested and constantly won the seat from Khajuraho, Uma knows exactly how to play the game. Uma Bharati stepped into politics in 1984. Her role in the Babri Masjid demolition put her in a tight spot. In 1999, she switched constituencies and won the Bhopal seat. She went on to become the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, but resigned in 2004, when an arrest warrant was issued against her. In a public meeting, Bharati had a fall out with LK Advani, which eventually led to her suspension. She started her own party Bharatiya Janshakti party, also abbreviated as BJP, based on RSS principles. However she was later re-inducted into the BJP in 2011, with a view to assist the party with Uttar Pradesh, in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. This time she contests from Jhansi.
Murli Manohar Joshi: The BJP senior leader was the HRD minister for the NDA government. Murli Manohar Joshi's political journey started when he joined an RSS movement in Delhi. He was inspired by the ideals and decided to pursue it. Joshi was elected General Secratary of the Janata party. He was one of the former members of the BJP and went on to become its General Secratary and treasurer. He was also the party president in 1991-1993. Joshi, a three time MP from Allahabad, was defeated in the Lok Sabha elections of May 2004. He won the elections in the 15th Lok Sabha, from Varanasi. Part of the manifesto preparation board in 2009, Joshi vacated his seat for Modi in the upcoming elections. He is currently contesting from Kanpur, alongside three time winner Shriprakash Jaiswal, INC.
Rajnath Singh: The current president of the Bharatiya Janata Party was initially associated with the RSS. He became the MLA after winning the seat from Mirzapur. In 1988, he finally rose to the position of national president in the BJP youth and was also elected into the UP legislative assembly. When the BJP government came into power in Uttar Pradesh, he was chosen to be the education minister. He was later elected into the Rajya Sabha and was on the advisory board for HRD, agriculture and business. He was crowned the president of the BJP unit in UP, 1999. He was the agricultural minister for the country, when NDA came into power. The ex-chief minister of Uttar Pradesh now stand for the Lucknow seat, a rather firm ground for the BJP.
Ashok Kumar Rawat: Ashok Kumar Rawat, a rather victorious party member of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is contesting from the Misrikh constituency in Uttar Pradesh. Having won the last two elections from this area too, polls this time look easy for him. He has previously worked with the committee on chemicals and fertilizers, welfare of SC and STs, public accounts etc. He holds a master's degree in arts and is fond of art and music.
Syed Ahmed Javed Jaffrey: The popular film actor, comedian, voice actor and dance master joined the Aam Admi Party in March 2014. He has been given the ticket to contest from Lucknow and he fights against BJP heavy weight Rajnath Singh. In the Muslim dominated Lucknow, Jaffery's presence is bound to change the tide for Rajnath Singh. This probably is the sole reason why the AAP decided to field the Boogy Woogy star from the city of Nawabs. However, he faces staunch competition from both BJP as well as INC. For the last six terms, BJP has held fort in Lucknow. Whether his onscreen charm transforms into good amount of vote, will be seen on the April 30.
Rita Bahuguna Joshi: The INC leader and daughter of former Uttar Pradesh CM, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna, is contesting alongside BJP president Rajnath Singh. She is a former vice-president of the National Council of Women and has been the president of All India Mahila Congress since 2003. She was arrested in 2009 after she made some derogatory remarks about Mayawati in an election speech. She was arrested along with fellow Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Digvijay Singh. Though she has been an unsuccessful candidate, her politically rich family adds a certain precedence to her. This time too she will be contesting the elections from the BJP domain of Lucknow.
Shriprakash Jaiswal: The three time Congress seat winner from Kanpur, is contesting again from the city. However this time around he has Murli Manohar Joshi of the BJP, in staunch opposition. He stood for the 2004 elections on the INC ticket and is currently a member of the parliament from Kanpur. He has been elected three times from Kanpur and has been a minister of State for Home affairs since May 23, 2004. In 2009 elections, Jaiswal again won the ticket from Kanpur, thus strengthening the Congress command here.
Jitin Prasad: Jitin Prasad, the Congress candidate from Uttar Pradesh's Dhaurahra, will be contesting for the second time from here. Dhaurahra was formed after the 2008 delimitation of parliamentary constituencies. In 2001, Jitin Prasad started his career with the Youth Congress as a general secretary. In 2004 elections he won the Congress seat from Shahjahanpur, his home town. In his first tenure as the MP, he was inducted as the Minister of steel and thus became the youngest minister in the cabinet. He has laid down the foundation for a steel factory in his constituency. Dhaurahra has been a safe bet for Congress all along, this year too, it seems to be the same.
PL Punia: Panna Lal Punia is sitting member of parliament from the Barabanki constituency. After his win last term, he is recontesting this time as well. The dalit leader of the INC, is also the chairperson of the national commission for the scheduled caste. In 2012, he featured on famous TV show Satyamev Jayate, hosted by Aamir Khan, to profess awareness about the lower strata of society. He has been a member on rural development, ministry of social justice and empowerment, labour etc. Congress deeply treasures Uttar Pradesh and has held prominent seats in the state. Punia, being a successful Congress leader is a candidate to watch out for in Barabanki.