Rahul Gandhi among 324 candidates for 17 Lok Sabha seats (Poll curtainraiser - Uttar Pradesh)

April 22nd, 2009 - 4:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Rahul Gandhi Lucknow, April 22 (IANS) Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s electoral fate will be decided in the second phase of the country’s 2009 general elections Thursday.
As many as 324 aspirants are in the fray for 17 Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha seats that go to polls in the second of the five-phase voting.

Gandhi is seeking re-election from his family bastion Amethi for the second time. His sister Priyanka Gandhi had been scanning every nook and corner of his constituency until the campaign came to a halt Tuesday evening, with only one target - Rahul must break his earlier record of winning by a margin of 290,000 votes in 2004.

Significantly, 38 of the 324 candidates have criminal antecedents and were facing charges including murder, attempt to murder, extortion and kidnapping.

The ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) tops the list with as many as seven out of its 17 contestants facing criminal charges. They are followed by the Congress which has four nominees with criminal background, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with three and Samajwadi Party with two.

Ayodhya, the ancient Hindu temple town that has been in the spotlight for several decades, will also poll in this phase as part of the Faizabad Lok Sabha constituency that continues to draw its significance from the Ram Janambhoomi temple-Babri Masjid controversy.

However even BJP nominee Laloo Singh didn’t make the temple construction at the disputed site a poll issue this time.

Among the other key constituencies that go to poll in the second phase here is Allahabad, the home and political turf of India’s first prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru.

However, with the passage of time, Congress stood nearly eroded from there to an extent that the party appears to be only on the periphery of the contest that is taking place essentially between the sitting Samajwadi Party MP Reoti Raman Singh and BSP’s Ashok Bajpai.

Barring Amethi, the remaining 16 constituencies were shared largely between the Samajwadi Party and the BSP in 2004. Nine were won by the Samajwadi Party, the BSP won six while one remained with the BJP.

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