All eyes on Lakhimpur Kheri in phase 4 of Uttar Pradesh polls

BJP supporters during an election campaign rally by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Lakhimpur Kheri district on February 20, 2022.

BJP supporters during an election campaign rally by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Lakhimpur Kheri district on February 20, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Said to be a Bharatiya Janata Party stronghold, 60 Assembly constituencies spread over nine districts will vote in the fourth phase of Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls on Wednesday.

In 2017, the BJP had won 50 of these 59 seats, the Samajwadi Party had bagged four and the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress had won two seats each. The BJP’s ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) had wrested the Jahanabad seat in the Fatehpur district.

This phase will decide who will control the heart of Uttar Pradesh, as nine constituencies of Lucknow will vote in this phase. A total of 2.13 crore voters will decide the fate of 624 candidates. A maximum of 15 are vying for the Sawayajpur constituency in the Hardoi district.

All eyes will be on Nighasen, Lakhimpur, and Palia constituencies of Lakhimpur Kheri district which came into focus after the vehicle of Kheri MP and Union Minister of State Ajay Mishra Teni’s son Ashish allegedly ran over four protesting farmers and a journalist on October 3, 2021. Three BJP workers also died in the clash that ensued. Mr. Ashish has recently been released on bail by the Allahabad High Court.

Focus on Pilibhit

The impact of farmers’ agitation would also be watched with interest in the adjoining Pilibhit district where BJP MP Varun Gandhi had openly supported the farmers’ cause. The BJP had won all the 12 seats of Pilibhit and Kheri, which have pockets of Sikh farmers, in 2017.

The focus will also be on Unnao, where the Congress has fielded Asha Singh, mother of the Unnao rape victim. Former BJP member Kuldeep Singh Sengar was convicted in the case in 2019. The Opposition parties have countered the BJP’s poll plank of security for mothers and daughters by repeatedly raising the Unnao case.

As Rae Bareli will also vote in this phase, the relevance of the Congress will be tested in its bastion. Congress MLA Aditi Singh switched to the BJP before polls and is contesting against Manish Chauhan of the Congress and R.P. Yadav of the Samajwadi Party. The fortune of another turncoat Nitin Agarwal, who shifted allegiance from the SP to the BJP, will also be keenly watched in Hardoi. Mr. Agarwal was the Deputy Speaker in the outgoing Assembly.

Other prominent candidates included Ministers in the Yogi Adityanath Cabinet — Brajesh Pathak from Lucknow Cantonment, and Ashutosh Tandon from Lucknow East.

Modi attacks SP

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued to attack the SP by describing the party as soft on terror. Addressing a rally in Baharaich, Mr. Modi said, “those who planted bombs in Uttar Pradesh, they wanted to release those terrorists from jail...The SP government was even against banning terror outfits.”

When the Ahmedabad court has given the death penalty to terrorists, the Prime Minister said, “these people are silent.” “Their game has come out in the open. Even a child knows who is helping whom,” he charged.

In Prayagraj, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said the BJP leaders indulged in lies according to their position in the party. “The biggest leader speaks the biggest lie,” he said.

Mr. Yadav also addressed a rally in support of SP candidate from Sirathu, Pallavi Patel, sister of Union Minister Anupriya Patel, who is taking on Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya.

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Printable version | Jun 30, 2022 4:17:38 am | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/uttar-pradesh-assembly/uttar-pradesh-phase-iv-polls-on-february-23-all-eyes-on-lakhimpur-kheri/article65074715.ece