Maximum candidates from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh third phase (Poll Curtainraiser - Uttar Pradesh)

April 29th, 2009 - 4:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi Lucknow, April 29 (IANS) With as many as 41 candidates in the fray, Lucknow has the maximum number of contestants among the 15 constituencies that go to polls in the third phase of Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh Thursday.
“That is the highest number of candidates in any single constituency so far,” said an Election Commission official. “This is the first time we had to install three electronic voting machines at each of the 1,517 polling booths here.”

Lucknow district’s rural constituency Mohanlalganj has the lowest number of contestants in the state — seven.

All eyes are on the 22.3 million voters who are eligible to vote Thursday to decide the fate of 256 candidates including 22 women.

The giant exercise would be carried out by over 100,000 officials and 65,000 security personnel across the 15 constituencies stretching from the Nepal border in the north to the Madhya Pradesh border in the south.

Rae Bareli will remain the key constituency in the spotlight with Congress president Sonia Gandhi seeking re-election from there. Whlie she won the seat in 2004 with a record margin of 417,000 votes, her daughter Priyanka, who has been leading her campaign, is striving for a bigger margin.

Sonia Gandhi’s opponents R.S. Kushwaha of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and R.B. Singh of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) are seen as pygmies in front of her.

Lucknow remains the second most important constituency in the state’s third phase. Regarded the political bastion of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who held on to this seat for five consecutive terms, it will offer an interesting four-cornered contest this time.

While Vajpayee had passed his mantle on to his protege Lalji Tandon, who is hoping to win on the strength of an appeal from his mentor, his key rival Akhilesh Das, the BSP nominee, is riding high on the might of his money power that has been on display since his candidature was announced.

The other two prominent nominees - Rita Bahuguna Joshi of Congress and Nafisa Ali of Samajwadi Party - are struggling. Both were late entrants.

While Joshi was ushered in barely three weeks ago, Ali was brought in only after her party’s original choice, actor Sanjay Dutt, was denied permission by the Supreme Court to contest.

Kanpur, which also votes in this phase, would remain in focus on account of the presence of union minister of state for home Sriprakash Jaiswal, who has held the seat on two occasions. The main challenge for him comes from BJP’s Satish Mahana, also a powerful legislator.

Fatehpur too has come into focus essentially because of the battle between the son and grandson of two prominent former prime ministers.

Vishwanath Pratap Singh’s son Ajeya Singh is trying to rekindle the flame lit by his father under the Jan Morcha banner while Vibhakar Shastri, a grandson of Lal Bahadur Shastri, is the Congress nominee. Both are first-timers in electoral politics.

The only other constituency of consequence is Unnao, essentially because of two candidates: Aruna Shankar Shukla alias ‘Anna’ of the ruling BSP and Congress party’s Anu Tandon.

An alleged mafia don, Shukla was fielded by Chief Minister Mayawati who had once accused him of leading an assault against her and her supporters at the state guest house here in June 1995 when he was known to be close to her rival Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Anu Tandon draws her strength from the corporate house of Mukesh Ambani, where her husband Sandeep Tandon holds a senior position.

Among the remaining constituencies in the third phase are Sitapur, Akbarpur, Hardoi, Jalaun, Barabanki, Misrikh, Jhansi, Bahraich and Hamirpur.

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