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All eyes on Lakhimpur Kheri as countdown for the fourth phase of polling in UP begins

Photo for representation

With hours to go for the fourth phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh, all eyes are on Lakhimpur Kheri, which witnessed the mowing down of the protesting farmers allegedly by Ashish Mishra(Teni), son of the minister of state for Home, Ajay Mishra. The accused son's walking out of the jail after he secured bail had generated a massive political heat in the region.  In 2017, the BJP had won the Lakhimpur seat with a strong margin of over 36000 votes.  Stakes are high for both BJP and Union Minister, Ajay Mishra in this region.

For the fourth phase, 624 candidates across 59 assembly constituencies are set to battle it out. Riding on the Modi wave in 2017, BJP had won 51 of 59 assembly seats in 2017. BJP ally, Apna Dal(S) had won one, four went to SP  while two seats were won by Congress and another two by the BSP.

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The State Capital, Lucknow with nine assembly segments will also vote in this phase. Of the nine assembly seats, BJP had won eight in 2017. The districts going to poll in the fourth phase include Pilibhit, Sitapur, Hardoi, Unnao, Rae Bareli, Banda, Fatehpur besides Lucknow and Lakhimpur.

Some feel that in the Terai region which also covers Pilibhit, the home turf of BJP MP, Varun Gandhi, the party could face some resistance. Of late, Varun had been relentlessly targeting the government both overtly and covertly. Things also might get difficult for Congress as both the Congress MLA, Aditi Singh and Rakesh Singh had joined the BJP. Rae Bareli is the parliamentary constituency of the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi. The region witnessed a high decibel campaign with Prime Minister, Narendra Modi accusing SP of "shielding terrorists" while the SP coining an acronym for PM-"Packers and Movers."

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As for caste arithmetic in the 59 seats, the non-Yadav Other Backwards Classes dominate with over 30 per cent of the vote share followed by 25 per cent Dalits and 15 per cent Muslims. Brahmins population is around 12 per cent while seven per cents are Thakurs and eight per cent Yadavs. The main pitch for the BJP has yet again been nationalism for this particular phase.

The issues raised by the Opposition for this phase had been unemployment, sugarcane dues.