The fifth phase of the Uttar Pradesh polling will begin on Sunday. The poll campaign for the same will end on Friday evening. In the fifth phase, around 60 Assembly Constituencies spread across 11 districts -- Amethi, Sultanpur, Chitrakoot, Pratapgarh, Kaushambi, Prayagraj, Barabanki, Ayodhya, Bahraich, Shravasti, and Gonda -- will go for polling on that day. One seat which falls in Rae Bareli district, where voting took place on February 23, also goes to polls in this phase. Meanwhile, campaigning has intensified for the other phases of elections in the state.
As the battle now shifts towards eastern Purvanchal (Eastern Uttar Pradesh), Ayodhya, the stronghold of BJP over Ram Mandir, will be now going into polling. The role of Ayodhya in this election is critical for deciding the fate of the BJP. The debate and controversy around Ram Mandir have been the stepping stone for the saffron party, ever since it has come to power in Uttar Pradesh in the 1990s. The crux of Purvanchal politics has always been around the Ram Mandi, which started being constructed in August 2021.
Harking bank on the Hindutva politics, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, on Friday, offered his prayers at the Hanuman Garhi Temple in Ayodhya ahead of the fifth phase. He also offered prayers to Ram Lalla at the Ram Janmabhoomi site.
As many as 90 women candidates would be contesting in the fifth phase, according to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms. The report further states that over 60 per cent of the assembly constituencies going to polls during the fifth phase of elections in Uttar Pradesh have three or more candidates with criminal cases in the fray. Also, 185 (or 27 per cent) of the 685 candidates in the fray have declared criminal cases against themselves, while 141 (or 21 per cent) have admitted "serious criminal cases".
The UP Election Watch and the ADR said the report is based on the analysis of the self-sworn affidavits of 685 of the 693 candidates, who are contesting the polls.
The report noted that 39 (or 64 per cent) of the 61 seats where the elections are to be held are "Red Alert Constituencies". Red alert constituencies are those where three or more contesting candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves, it stated.
In terms of financial condition, 246 (or 36 per cent) candidates are "crorepati", having assets worth over Rs 1 crore, according to the report. There are 84 candidates who have assets worth Rs 5 crore or above, 90 with assets between Rs 2 crore and Rs 5 crore, while 150 whose assets lay between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 2 crore, it stated.
Among the chief parties, BJP has 47 crorepati candidates, Congress has 30, Samajwadi Party has 49 and Bahujan Samaj Party 46. The richest three contestants in the fray during the fifth phase are all BJP candidates.
(with agency inputs)