Notification for UP first phase polls today

Notification for the first phase of Assembly polls which will be a litmus test for Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma and National Commission for Scheduled Caste Chairman PL Punia.

Lucknow: The election process got underway
in Uttar Pradesh today with notification for the first phase
of Assembly polls which will be a litmus test for Union
Minister Beni Prasad Verma and National Commission for
Scheduled Caste Chairman PL Punia.

In the first phase, 55 constituencies spread over 10
districts--Sitapur, Gonda, Basti, Bahraich, Balrampur
Barabanki, Faizabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Siddharth Nagar and
Shravasti are going on polls which will be held on February 8.
The phase will decide the fate of 15 former ministers,
three sitting ministers and 31 MLAs.

Gonda Congress MP Beni`s prestige would be at stake not
only in seven assembly constituencies of his parliamentary
area but also in Barabanki with his son Rakesh Verma
contesting from Dariyabad seat there.

Barabanki Congress MP, P L Punia`s Dalit card and
influence in the area would also be under keen observation in
six constituencies of his area.

Both Verma, known for his say in Kurmi vote bank and
Punia, Dalit face of Congress would have the herculean task of
ensuring maximum number of seats for the Congress, which had
secured only three of the 55 seats in 2007 assembly polls.

As far as ticket distribution is concered, Verma had
ruled the roost and succeeded in ensuring tickets to his
loyalists and also turncoats from Samajwadi Party.

Congress leaders are hoping that party General Secretary
Rahul Gandhi`s visit in the areas going to polls would boost
their prospects.

Rahul had covered various constituencies in Bahraich,
Gonda, Barabanki, Sitapur, Basti districts during his visits
and held a series of public meetings.

Also, Congress leader and MP Jagdambika Pal, whose son
Abhishek Pal is contesting from Basti Sadar seat has also been
camping in his constituency to ensure victory of his son--a
first timer in political battle.

For Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which had secured maximum
of 30 seats out of 55 seats in the 2007 assembly polls it
would be a fight to increase its tally.

Samajwadi Party (SP) is also aiming to increase its tally
from 18 seats in the 2007 assembly polls.

SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav had recently held a rally
in Barabanki and promised people to rid them of the "misrule
and corruption" of BSP, which he considered SP`s main

The party`s performance in the region could help it in
catapulting itself to power, SP leaders feel.

As far as BJP, which talks of "Ramrajya", is concerned
despite Faizabad and Ayodhya falling in this phase, the
party`s performance has not been upto the mark in past

In 2007, it had succeeded in getting victory in four
seats only. This time party leaders Rajnath Singh and Kalraj
Mishra had taken out yatras, which culminated in Ayodhya with
a rally to muster support for the party but it had not
generated much enthusiasm among voters especially post Babu
Singh Kushwaha episode.

Kushwaha, an accused in bungling in NRHM funds had joined
BJP but later his induction was suspended. His entry had given
a chance to rivals to corner BJP on the issue of corruption.

Going by the 2007 record on seats going to polls in first
phase, BSP had won 30 seats while SP secured 18, BJP four and
Congress a meagre three seats only.

Prominent candidates in this phase include former Vidhan
Sabha speaker Mata Prasad Pandey, former PWD Minister Arvind
Singh Gope, former minister Waqar Ahmad Shah, Mitrasen Yadav,
Abhay Singh of Samajwadi Party, Parliamentary Affairs minister
Lalji Verma from BSP, Ammar Rizvi, Rakesh Verma (Beni`s son),
Abhishek Pal of Congress and former minister in BSP government
Daddan Mishra from BJP.