Polling will be held tomorrow in 49 constituencies spread across 13 districts

Campaigning for the fifth phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections ended on Tuesday. Polling in the fifth phase on Thursday will be held in 49 Assembly constituencies spread across 13 districts of Firozabad, Kanshi Ram Nagar, Etah, Mainpuri, Etawah, Auraiya, Ramabai Nagar, Kanpur Nagar, Jalaun, Jhansi, Lalitpur, Hamirpur and Mahoba.

The Joint Chief Electoral Officer, Anita Meshram said that there are 829 candidates in the fifth round and 1.56 voters will exercise their franchise. She said 28,173 electronic voting machines will be used in 17,627 polling stations.

Elections in this phase will be centred around Central Uttar Pradesh and parts of Bundelkhand with polling in Etawah, Mainpuri, Auraiya and Mahoba and Kanpur districts being of particular interest. Etawah and Mainpuri are considered to be Samajwadi Party president, Mulayam Singh's political borough. While Etawah is Mr. Singh's home district, he is the Lok Sabha MP from the neighbouring Mainpuri. His younger brother and the Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly, Shivpal Singh Yadav is seeking re-election from Jaswantnagar in Etawah district. Mr. Singh used to contest the Assembly polls from Jaswantnagar seat before his younger brother stepped in.

While the Samajwadi Party is unlikely to face much opposition in the seven Assembly seats in Etawah and Mainpuri districts, on a couple of seats in the neighbouring Auraiya district, Mr. Singh has to contend with party turncoats who have been fielded by the Congress.

The fifth round of the polls is also important from the point of view of the Bharatiya Janata Party as the party's “chief ministerial” candidate, Uma Bharti is contesting the elections from Charkhari in Mahoba district. Not only will Ms. Bharti try to strengthen her position within the party, given the deep divisions, but will also try to shed off the “outsider” factor. In fact, it was the former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister's prestige which is at stake in Charkhari.

The contest in Kanpur will mainly revolve around the BJP, the SP and the Congress. In the industrial metropolis, the Congress was battling dissensions within the party with a section opposed to the Union Coal Minister and local MP, Sri Prakash Jaiswal. Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's road show in Kanpur on Monday and the subsequent FIR lodged against him and 40 others seemed to have regrouped the Congressmen but whether the support will be translated in vote remains to be seen.

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