Uttar Pradesh,
India’s biggest state by population size and political impact, is gearing up
for the third phase of elections scheduled on February 20. The third phase will
see 59 Assembly constituencies go to polls. Elections in Uttar Pradesh are
being held in seven phases from February 10 to March 7.

While the first
phase of polls was in constituencies concentrated around western Uttar Pradesh
where Jat community often holds political sway, the second phase was
concentrated in areas where the Muslim community exerts significant influence.
The third phase moves eastward and will be in areas where the Yadav community, one
of the most politically influential communities in UP, have a critical

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Yadav community
strongholds have traditionally been Samajwadi Party (SP) strongholds as well.
The party of Mulayam Singh Yadav and later his son Akhilesh Yadav has relied
considerably on this community. Which is why, when the Yadav community turned
away from the SP in the 2017 Assembly polls, the Samajwadi Party was decimated
in the region.

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The 59 Assembly
constituencies going to polls are spread across 16 districts. Five districts in
western UP – Firozabad, Mainpuri, Etah, Kasanj and Hathras; six districts in
Awadh – Kanpur, Kanpur Dehat, Auraiya, Kannauj, Etawa, Farrukhabaad; and five
districts in Bundelkhand region – Jhansi, Jalaun, Lalitpur, Hamirpur, Mahoba. Here’s
an overview of the key battle constituencies in the third phase of polls in
Uttar Pradesh.


Karhal in Mainpuri
district is one of the most significant constituencies in the 2017 Assembly
elections. A former Mulayam Singh Yadav-stronghold, Samajwadi supremo Akhilesh
Yadav is contesting the polls from this seat. Yadav, 48, a former chief
minister, is a four-time member of Parliament. But this, will be his first
Assembly election. When Akhilesh was chief minister, he was a member of UP’s
Legislative Council.

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Going up against
Akhilesh Yadav is the BJP’s SP Singh Baghel. Baghel, 61, is currently serving
as the Minister of State for Law and Justice in the Union government. The
Congress has decided against contesting this seat. In 2017, Samajwadi Party’s
Sobaran Singh Yadav won the seat with 49.8% of the vote. The second place went
to BJP’s Ram Shakya. BSP, with 14.18% of the vote, came out third.  


Hathras, the site
of the tragic rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman in 2020, turned into
a national political flashpoint at the time. The incident made security of
women a key issue in Uttar Pradesh. Prior to the elections, however, caste
loyalties instead of policy questions may emerge as bigger poll swayers.

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The BJP has
replaced its sitting MLA with Anjula Singh Mahaur. Mahaur, a 52-year-old Dalit
woman, has previously served as the mayor of Agra and will be contesting her
first Assembly elections. On the other hand, the Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok
Dal (SP-RLD) combine has fielded Braj Mohan Rahi from the seat. Congress has
fielded Kuldeep Kumar Singh and the BSP, Sanjeev Kumar.

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In the 2017
Assembly polls, Hari Singh Mahor of the BJP won the seat. Braj Mohan Rahi, who
was with the BSP at the time and is SP’s candidate now, came in second. The
third place went to Congress’ Rajeev Rai Jeevan. The Congress and SP fought the
2017 polls in alliance.


Jaswantnagar is
another of the extremely significant constituencies in the UP polls, especially
for the SP. This is because, Mulayam Singh’s brother and Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle
Shivpal Singh is contesting the seat on an SP symbol from this constituency.
Shivpal Singh had quit the Samajwadi Party after a rift with Akhilesh Yadav. The
2022 polls see a potential family reunion.

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Shivpal’s party
Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) is contesting the polls in alliance with
the SP. Talking about his uncle’s return to the SP fold, Akhilesh Yadav
recently said, “Uncle’s return will strengthen our power in upcoming Assembly
elections and will help us defeat the BJP in the UP polls.”

The Bharatiya
Janata Party (BJP) has fielded Vivek Shakya while the Congress is not
contesting this seat. The 2017 Assembly elections had seen Shivpal Singh Yadav
win the polls with 54.42% of the vote. BJP’s Manish Yadav Patre came in second
with 31.84% of the vote. BSP’s Durvesh Kumar Shakya came out third.


Kannauj, the
constituency that forms the district headquarters of Kannauj district, is
heading for a pitched poll battle. In this historic city, the contest will between
Samajwadi Party’s Anil Kumar Dohare, the sitting MLA, and the BJP’s Asim Arun.

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Arun, a 1994-batch
IPS officer, was the police commissioner of Kanpur until he joined the BJP earlier
this year. Once a member of the United Nations Peace Keeping Mission in Kosovo,
Asim Arun has a masters degree in public policy from British Columbia University.

In the 2017
Assembly elections, SP’s Anil Kumar Dohare defeated BJP’s Banwari Lal Dohare by
a margin of 2,454 votes.  


located by the banks of now-dried river Sirsa, is the yet another constituency
set for a pitched battle. In Sirisaganj, the BJP’s candidate is Hariom Yadav. A
relative of Mulayam Singh Yadav, Hariom moved to the BJP in January. The
63-year-old is currently a member of UP’s legislative council. He has previously
represented the constituency of Shikohabad.

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The Samajwadi
Party has fielded Sarvesh Singh from the Sirisaganj seat while the BSP has
fielded Pankaj Mishra. Pratima Pal is in the fray on behalf of the Congress. In
the 2017 Assembly elections, Hariom won the seat, for the second time, with
46.01% of the vote, representing the SP at the time. BSP’s Atul Pratap Singh
was second. Pankaj Mishra, BSP’s candidate this time, had contested as an
Independent and had come out third.

The third phase of
the Uttar Pradesh elections is likely to witness a direct contest between the
ruling BJP and SP, the primary opposition party in the state. The first phase
of elections saw 58 Assembly constituencies go to polls and the second saw
another 55. With 59 more seats going to polls on Sunday, over 42% of UP will
have voted for this very high-profile electoral contest.