The Pioneer

Uttar Pradesh assembly elections will enter the fourth phase of polling on Wednesday when votes will be cast in 60 constituencies across nine districts.

So far elections to 172 out of 403 seats of UP assembly have been completed in the first three phases. The high-decibel campaigning for this phase ended on Monday as sparring among political rivals intensified during the last-minute canvassing.

In the fourth phase, 624 candidates are in the fray for 60 assembly seats. A maximum of 15 candidates are vying for Sawayajpur assembly seat in Mau, while the minimum of six candidates are contesting from Pallia Kalan and Sevata assembly c0nstituencies in Lakhimpur.

The 60 seats are spread in Pilibhit, Lakhimpur Kheri, Sitapur, Hardoi, Unnao, Lucknow, Rae Bareli, Banda and Fatehpur.

As per the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a total of 27 per cent of candidates contesting in the fourth phase are facing criminal cases, while 37 per cent have declared assets valued at more than Rs 1 crore.

Among the major parties, 31 out of 58 candidates from Congress, 30 out of 57 candidates from Samajwadi Party, 26 out of 59 candidates from Bahujan Samaj Party, 23 out of 57 candidates from Bharatiya Janata Party and 11 out of 45 candidates from Aam Aadmi Party have declared criminal cases against them. The average of assets per candidate contesting in the phase four is Rs 2.46 crore.

Of the 60 seats going to polls in this phase, the BJP had won 51 in the 2017 assembly elections; four had gone to SP and three to BSP. BJP's ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) had bagged one seat.

Lakhimpur, which had hogged national news headlines after eight people, including four farmers, were killed in violence on October 3, will go to the polls in the fourth phase.

Among prominent candidates in this phase are UP Law Minister Brajesh Pathak, who is facing SP candidate and two-time corporator Surendra Singh Gandhi in Lucknow Cantonment seat. Pathak had won the Lucknow Central seat in the 2017 poll.

Another minister, Ashutosh Tandon, is in the fray from Lucknow East seat and is being challenged by SP's national spokesperson Anurag Bhadauria. Meanwhile, Sarojini Nagar assembly constituency will witness a battle between former Enforcement Directorate officer Rajeshwar Singh fielded by the BJP and Abhishek Mishra who was a minister in SP government.

Deputy Speaker of UP Legislative Assembly Nitin Agarwal, who had crossed over to the BJP from SP, will face the electoral test in this phase from Hardoi. Considered a Congress bastion, Rae Bareli will also go to the polls in this phase. Formerly a Congress MLA from Rae Bareli, Aditi Singh, switched allegiance and is contesting from the same seat on a BJP ticket.

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