With 57 assembly constituencies across 10 districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh voting on Thursday, the fate of 676 candidates, including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who’s contesting from his home turf Gorakhpur, will be sealed as the election enters the penultimate phase.
Gorakhpur Sadar seat has been BJP’s stronghold for nearly 31 years, and Yogi Adityanath, who has been an MP from Gorakhpur several times, will be contesting his first-ever assembly election from there. In the 2017 election, he entered the state Assembly through the Legislative Council.
Besides CM Adityanath, other BJP contestants in the fray are agriculture minister Surya Pratap Shahi (Pathardeva), education minister Satish Chandra Dwivedi (Itwa), health minister Jai Pratap Singh (Bansi), state ministers Shree Ram Chauhan (Khajani) and Jai Prakash Nishad (Rudrapur).
In the 2017 election, the BJP won 47 out of the total 61 seats. While the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party could bag only two and five seats. The Congress, Apna Dal and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) secured one seat each. Mayawati’s BSP was also the principal opponent to the BJP in Balrampur, Siddharth Nagar, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar and Gorakhpur districts.
A total of 2,14,62,816 voters, including 1,14,63,113 males, 99,98,383 females and 1,320 third genders are going to vote in 10 districts — Ambedkar Nagar, Gorakhpur, Balrampur, Siddharthnagar, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Deoria and Ballia – from 7 am till 6 pm.
The seats, which are going to polls are Katehari, Tanda Atapur (SC), Jalalpur, Albarpur, Tulsibur, Gainsari, Utrauta, Balrampur (SC), Shohratparti, Kapilvastu (SC), Bansi ftwa Domariyagan, Harraiya, Kapitangani Rathalai, Busti Sadar Mahadewa (SC) Mendawal Khalilabad Dhanghata (SC), Pharenda Nautanwa, Siswa Maha (SC), Patryra Caimplyarganj, Potaich, Gorakhpa Urban Corakhpur Rizal, Sahajawa, Khajani (SC) Chauri Chaura, Bansgaon (SC), Chillupar, Khadda, Padrauma, Tamadi Raj, Enzillagot Kushinagar, Hata, Ramkisla (5C), Rudrapur, Pathardeva, Hampu Kafkhana, Bhatpar Rani Salempur (SC), Bathal, Belthara Road Rasta, Skandarpu, Phepitina, Ballia Nagar, Bandin and Bairya.
The maximum number of candidates are in Tulsipur, Gorakhpur Rural and Padrauna and the least are in Salempur.
Other Key Contestants
Contesting against Yogi Adityanath is Samajwadi Party’s Subhavati Shukla, wife of former BJP vice-president Late Upendra Dutt Shukla. Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad is also the candidate of Azad Samaj Party from there. BSP’s Khwaja Shamsuddin and Congress’s Chetna Pandey are other contestants from the seat.
State Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu is contesting from Tamkuhi Raj constituency in Kushinagar district, while Swami Prasad Maurya, who had jumped the ship from BJP to SP weeks ahead of the polls, is a candidate from Fazilnagar in Kushinagar. Leader of Opposition in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly and senior Samajwadi Party leader Ram Govind Chaudhary is in the fray from Bansdih from Ballia district.
Criminal Cases Against Candidates
According to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), 23% of the 670 candidates contesting in the sixth phase have serious criminal cases such as rape and murder against them.
Nearly 29 from Samajwadi Party, 20 each from BJP and Congress, 18 from BSP and five from AAP have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.
Also, 37 of the 57 constituencies are Red alert constituencies with three or more candidates having declared criminal cases against themselves. According to the report, two candidates face rape charges, eight are involved in murder cases and 23 face attempt to murder charges.
Out of the 670 candidates, 253 (38%) are crorepati. The average asset of each candidate in the phase 6 is Rs 2.10 crore.
The role of money power in the election is evident from the fact that all major political parties have given tickets to wealthy candidates, the report further said.