The prestige of many heavyweights from all the mainstream political parties, including the UPA Chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi and president of the State unit of Samajwadi Party Akhilesh Yadav, will be at stake in the fourth phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections on February 19. The fate of the BJP's “Brahmin face”, Kalraj Mishra, will also be decided in the battle of the ballot in this phase. It will also be known whether the Leader of Congress Legislature Party Pramod Tiwari will win a record ninth term from a single constituency.

Following the poll notification, nominations for the fourth round has begun. Elections will be held in 56 constituencies spread across 11 districts of Hardoi, Unnao, Lucknow, Rae Bareli, Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar, Farrukhabad, Kannauj, Banda, Chitrakoot, Fatehpur and Pratapgarh. Nominations close on February 1 and February 4 is the last date for withdrawing names.

Nine constituencies in Lucknow district and seven in Rae Bareli, represented by Ms. Gandhi in the Lok Sabha, will go to the polls on February 19. While Mr. Mishra has been fielded from Lucknow East and it marked his entry in the electoral arena, Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president Rita Bahuguna Joshi is contesting the election from Lucknow Cantonment. The Lucknow MP Lalji Tandon's ward, Ashutosh Tandon, is the BJP candidate from the newly constituted Lucknow North constituency. Also in the fray from Lucknow are four sitting MLAs — Shyam Kishore Shukla (Congress) Lucknow West; Suresh Tiwari (BJP) Lucknow Cantonment; Suresh Srivastava (BJP) Lucknow West; and Vidya Sagar (BJP) Lucknow Central.

Considering that the Gandhi family attached much significance to Rae Bareli, Priyanka Vadra recently met the Congress workers of all seven constituencies for getting a feedback. She is set to return on February 2 to begin her campaigning. An interesting contest appears to be in the making in Rae Bareli Sadar where the sitting MLA and former Congressman, Akhilesh Singh, is contesting on a Peace Party ticket.

In neighbouring Pratapgarh district, CLP leader Pramod Tiwari will try to win a record ninth term as MLA from Rampur Khas. He has had an unbroken stint since the 1980 Assembly elections. Former Minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya is seeking re-election from Kunda in Pratapgarh district as an Independent candidate. Mr. Singh, a scion of Bhadri estate, is yet to be defeated in Kunda since he first contested the elections in 1993.

Polls in the four constituencies in Banda district in the Bundelkhand region of the State will test the political credibility of PWD Minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui whose case related to alleged corruption charges is pending before Lokayukta. Banda is Mr. Siddiqui's home district. Though the guns have fallen silent in Chitrakoot district following the elimination of the dreaded outlaw Shiv Kumar alias Dadua and an equally dangerous brigand Thokiya, and the dacoits no longer called the shots, Dadua's son Vir Singh has been fielded by the Samajwadi Party from Manikpur. Earlier, the ticket had been given to the SP MP from Banda, R.K. Singh Patel's son. It is alleged that Dadua's brother Bal Kumar Patel, who is the Samajwadi MP from Mirzapur, was instrumental in getting the nomination for his nephew.

Union Law Minister Salman Khursheed's wife Louise Khursheed is Congress candidate from Farrukhabad. She was elected from here in 2002, but defeated in 2007. Polling in the fourth phase will also be held in three constituencies in Kannauj, represented by Akhilesh Yadav in the Lok Sabha.

  • Prestige of many heavyweights from all mainstream political parties will be at stake

  • Elections will be held in 56 constituencies spread across 11 districts