17 Feb, 2017: Campaigning for the third phase of the Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections came to an end at 5 p.m. on Friday. There are 826 candidates contesting for 69 seats, spread across 12 districts.
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Polling will take place on February 19. The third phase will be a litmus test for the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP), especially Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, since most seats were held by the party in 2012 and are in the Yadav pocket boroughs.
Prominent personalities whose fate would be decided in the third phase include ministers Arvind Singh ‘Gop’, Fareed Mehfooz Kidwai, Vijay Bahadur Pal, Abhishek Mishra, Nitin Agarwal, Narendra Verma, Rajeev Kumar Singh and former minister Shivpal Singh Yadav.
Districts where the polling would be held are Farukkhabad, Mainpuri, Etawah, Hardoi, Kannauj, Kanpur rural, Kanpur city, Unnao, Lucknow, Barabanki, Auraiyya and Sitapur. A total of 2.41 crore voters will decide the fate of 826 candidates.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati and Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav will hold a joint press conference here on Saturday when the alliance between them for the coming Lok Sabha polls is likely to be announced.
An invitation, jointly signed by SP General Secretary Rajendra Chowdhary and BSP General Secretary Satish Chandra Mishra, has been circulated to the media for the press conference at a five-star hotel here.
Informed sources said that the two former Chief Ministers might formally announce the formation of the alliance for the Lok Sabha polls and also share the seat-sharing formula.
A tactical alliance between SP and BSP – once sworn enemies – helped them defeat the BJP in Lok Sabha by-elections in Gorakhpur and Phulpur last year. The two parties also backed the candidate of RLD-led by Ajit Singh to win the Kairana Lok Sabha constituency.
Four-time Chief Minister Mayawati flew into Lucknow late on Thursday and is likely to deliberate with her party leaders on Friday before sealing the deal with SP.
A senior party leader said that while the SP and BSP will share 37 seats each, they will leave two for Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).
The alliance might also leave two seats, Amethi and Rae Bareli, for the Congress to enable Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi to contest from there.