Lucknow: As the Lok Sabha election enters its third phase in Uttar Pradesh, the battle is now taking place in Yadav land with the prestige and stature of the Mulayam Singh Yadav clan on test.
The phase will also decide the course that the battle in the Yadav family will take in future.
The Samajwadi Party had contested only three out of the 16 seats that went to polls in the first two phases in the state, but in the third phase, is contesting nine out of the 10 seats that will see voting on April 23.
The Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance looks rather formidable in this phase, given the caste equations and the Bharatiya Janata Party may face an uphill task on many of these seats.
The seats in this phase include Samajwadi Party strongholds like Badaun, Sambhal, Mainpuri, Ferozabad, and Rampur as well as Aonla, Bareilly, Pilibhit, Etah and Moradabad.
One of the safest seats for the SP is Mainpuri where party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav is the candidate. It was in Mainpuri two days ago that Mulayam Singh shared the stage with BSP President Mayawati, burying the hostilities of the past two and a half decades.
There are no guesses for the result in Mainpuri where Mulayam Singh remains the tallest and most popular leader. He was elected from Mainpuri in 2014 as well as Azamgarh but had chose to retain the latter.
In Badaun, Samajwadi Party’s Dharmendra Yadav is locked in a straight fight with Salim Iqbal Shervani of the Congress. The four lakh Muslim and nine lakh OBC votes in this constituency could tilt the scales in favour of the SP.
BJP’s Sanghmitra Maurya is, meanwhile, embroiled in a controversy after her video asking her supporters to cast fake votes went viral.
In Ferozabad, the war is between uncle Shivpal Yadav and nephew Akshay Yadav and there is certainly no camaraderie in the air. This is a real battle between Yadav leaders and Shivpal Yadav enjoys an advantage because he is familiar with the organization at the ground level.
The Samajwadi Party is also hopeful of winning the Sambhal seat where the party has again fielded Shafiqur Rehman Barq who had lost the seat by just 5,000-odd votes in 2014.
Rampur, meanwhile, is witnessing its worst-ever election campaign with BJP’s Jaya Prada and SP’s Mohammad Azam Khan calling each other unprintable names.
Jaya Prada, with tears flowing down her cheeks, is trying to earn the sympathy votes from the people while Azam Khan is playing the victim card to make it to the winning post.
In Pilibhit, BJP MP Varun Gandhi is pitted against SP’s Hemraj Varma and in Moradabad, BJP’s Sarvesh Singh is being challenged by young poet Imran Pratagarhi. The BJP appears strong in both the constituencies.
In Bareilly, veteran BJP MP Santosh Gangwar is seeking his eighth term and his challenger is Praveen Aron of Congress.
In Etah, Rajvir Singh, son of Rajasthan Governor and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, is seeking a second term. He is pitted against SP’s Devendra Yadav.