The 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections were held in seven phases, beginning from Western Uttar Pradesh and moving eastward with each phase. The elections were held on 403 seats and witnessed participation from major leaders of all parties, which included Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh, along with Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party's Mayawati, Congress party's Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul Gandhi. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also participated in a rally.
The BJP's election pitch relied heavily on law and order situation in the state, in addition to the construction of Ram Mandir and the inauguration of Kashi Vishvanath Corridor that was projected as a rejuvenation of the ancient Kashi. The party also hailed the development of expressways in the state.
The Opposition parties targeted the government on the issues of unemployment, farmers' unrest, and unemployment. Congress party's Priyanka Gandhi Vadra made women-centric agenda central to her campaign with "Ladki Hu, Lad Sakti Hu" - I am a girl, I can fight - slogan.
The seven-phase Uttar Pradesh assembly elections began on 10 February, in which 58 seats in Western Uttar Pradesh went to polls. There were 623 candidates with around 2.28 core voters. Among them, there were 1.24 crore men and 1.04 crore women voters.
The issues that dominated the first phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections were law and order and the farmers' issues as the region was central to the yearlong farmers' protest against the Union government’s farm laws that were eventually withdrawn.
The districts in the first phase included Shamli, Hapur, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Mathura, and Agra. Meerut is home to BJP's firebrand leader Sangeet Som, Baghpat is the traditional bastion of Jat-centric Rashtriya Lok Dal party, and Muzaffarnagar is the home turf of Tikait brothers who were key figures in the anti-farm laws agitation.
Of these 58 seats, the BJP won 53 seats, SP and BSP won two seats each in the previous assembly elections. RLD had also won a seat.
Fifty-five constituencies went to polls in the second phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections on 14 February. A total of 586 candidates were in the fray in constituencies spread across the districts of Saharanpur, Bijnor, Moradabad, Sambhal, Rampur, Amroha, Budaun, Bareilly, and Shahjahanpur.
Of these 55 seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party had won 38, while the Samajwadi Party had bagged 15 and the Congress two in the 2017 assembly elections. The SP and the Congress had contested the last Uttar Pradesh assembly election in an alliance.
The prominent faces in the fray in this phase included SP’s senior leader Azam Khan and his son Abdullah Azam. BJP ministers Baldev Singh Aulakh, Mahesh Chandra Gupta, and Gulab Devi were also in the fray.
The third phase of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections was held on 20 February for 59 constituencies across 16 districts. As many as 627 candidates were in the fray with around 2.15 crore eligible voters.
This phase included the seat of Karhal from where UP’s principal Opposition leader, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, contested the elections. The BJP fielded Union minister S P Singh Baghel against Yadav.
Other prominent persons who contested in the third phase included Shivpal Singh Yadav, uncle of Akhilesh Yadav who contested from Jaswantnagar seat. Satish Mahana and Ramvir Upadhaya of BJP and Louise Khurshid of the Congress party were among other prominent leaders who contested in this phase. Louise Khurshid is the wife of senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid.
Of these 59 seats, the BJP had won 49, the SP nine, and the Congress one in the 2017 elections.
The voting in the fourth phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections for 59 constituencies spread over nine districts was held on 23 February. A total of 624 candidates were in the fray with 2.3 crore eligible voters that included 1.14 crore men and 99.3 lakh women.
These seats were spread across the districts of Pilibhit, Lakhimpur Kheri, Sitapur, Hardoi, Unnao, Lucknow, Rae Bareli, Banda and Fatehpur.
Lakhimpur Kheri shot to headlines in October last year when eight people, including four farmers, died after a convoy of Ashish Mishra, the son of Union minister Ajay Mishra, allegedly ran over a group of protesters.
Of these 59 seats, the BJP had won 51 in the 2017 assembly elections, the SP four, the BSP three, and BJP's ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) one.
The prominent candidates in this phase were Brijesh Pathak and Aditi Singh of BJP, SP's national spokesperson Anurag Bhadauria, former SP minister Abhishek Mishra, former UP assembly deputy speaker Nitin Agarwal.
The fifth phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly election witnessed voting for 61 assembly seats across 12 districts, which included key districts of Prayagraj as well as Ayodhya, the epicentre of the Ram Mandir movement.
A total of 692 candidates were in the fray for the fifth phase with around 2.24 crore voters.
Other districts that went to polls in this phase included Sultanpur, Chitrakoot, Pratapgarh, Kaushambi, Barabaki, Bahraich, Shravasti, Gonda, Amethi, and Rae Bareli.
Prominent personalities who contested in the phase included Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, who contested from the Sirathu assembly seat in the Kaushambi district. Other ministers in the fray were Siddharth Nath Singh from Allahabad West, Rajendra Singh from Patti (Pratapgarh), Nand Gopal Gupta Nadi from Allahabad South and Ramapati Shastri from Mankapur (Gonda).
Raghuraj Pratap Singh, better known as Raja Bhaiya, who is the MLA from Kunda since 1993, was also in the fray from his party Jansatta Dal.
The last two phases of the Uttar Pradesh elections were held in the Purvanchal region, with 57 seats of the region going to polls on 3 March, which included the seat of Gorakhpur Urban from where Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath contested the elections.
The 57 constituencies had around 2.14 crore voters across the districts of Ambedkar Nagar, Balrampur, Siddharthnagar, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria and Ballia. This phase was believed to be critical for the ruling BJP as the party had won 46 of the 57 seats in the previous assembly elections.
Other than Adityanath, the prominent personalities in the phase included state Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu, Swami Prasad Maurya - who quit as BJP minister to join the Samajwadi Party, and senior SP leader and Leader of Opposition Ram Govind Chaudhary.
The last remaining 54 seats in Eastern Uttar Pradesh went to polls in the final phase of the Uttar Pradesh assembly election, with all political heavyweights converging in Varanasi where Prime Minister Narendra Modi camped for two days.
A total of 613 candidates were in the fray with around 2.06 crore voters.
Besides Varanasi, the final phase also included the districts of Azamgarh, Mau, Jaunpur, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Mirzapur, Bhadohi, and Sonbhadra.
The prominent personalities in the final phase included ministers Neelkanth Tiwari, Anil Rajbhar, Ravindra Jaiswal, Girish Yadav, and Ramashankar Singh Patel. Dara Singh Chauhan, who resigned from Adityanath government to join SP, was also in the fray in this round.
Other prominent candidates included Om Prakash Rajbhar of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, Dhananjay Singh of JD(U), and Abbas Ansari, the son of gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari.
The campaigning for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections reached its peak in the final phase. Prime Minister Narendra Modi camped in Varanasi on 4-5 March. He held a roadshow in three constituencies of the city. Later in the evening of the same day, Akhilesh Yadav held a roadshow in Varanasi.
Just before Modi and Akhilesh, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra of Congress also held a roadshow in Varanasi. She camped in the city for four days and addressed meetings in which her brother and fellow Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also participated. BSP supremo Mayawati also campaigned in the district and neighbouring areas.