Amidst ongoing polls to constitute a new state Assembly in Uttar Pradesh, the two phases of elections have witnessed high voter turnout. Now all eyes are on third phase of polling which is due on Wednesday (February 15). Most of the areas which are going to polls in the third phase, are popularly known as Kashi-Vindhya region. In the wake of the significant increase in poll percentage in the first two phases, it is being predicted that voters of Kashi-Vindhya region will also follow the suit.

Though the area is said to be the bastion of ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and main opposition Samajwadi Party but the influence of the Congress and the BJP in the urban areas cannot be denied. The BJP has high hope from Kashi region owing to the influence of its senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi who is a Lok Sabha member from here (Varanasi) and expelled BSP leader Babu Singh Kushwaha’s call to the voters in favour of the saffron party. It is also believed that the Congress’ vote share in the region will go up which will have a significant impact on poll results.

Strong contest is predicted on Varanasi North seat between BJP candidate Ravindra Jaiswal and sitting MLA and SP candidate Abdul Samad Ansari. But aggressive campaign by former MLA Rabia, who recently switched here allegiance from the SP to the Congress, has made the battle for the seat very interesting. Changed equation on the seat due to delimitation has made the way of the SP candidate to state Assembly difficult.

Similarly, the fight on Cantt Seat has also become interesting. BJP MLA Dr Jyotsana Srivastava is contesting from here to enter the state Assembly for the third consecutive time. BJP candidate has been winning the seat since 1991. This time Srivastava is pitted against Ashfaq Ahmad Alias Dablu of the SP, Congress candidate Anil Kumar Srivastava and Chandresh Kumar Mishra of the BSP. It is believed that the decision of Muslim voters in this constituency is going to play a significant role in deciding the fate of the candidates.

Varanasi South seat is also said to be a stronghold of the BJP but delimitation has significantly changed the poll prospects for the BJP candidate as now the Muslims constitute about 60 percent of the total population. BJP leader Shyamdev Rai Chaudhary ‘Dada’ has never been defeated from here since 1989. Dada is pitted against Congress candidate Dr Dayashankar Mishra, Istaqbal Qureshi of the SP, Kaisar Ameen Ansari of the BSP and Athar Jamal Lari of the Apna Dal.

In Shivpur Assembly constituency, sitting BSP MLA Udaylal Maurya is seeking people’s mandate for the next five-year term on the basis of developmental works done during his tenure. He is being challenged by Congress candidate and former Minister Virendra Singh who recently switched over from the SP, Sanjay Yadav of Bharatiya Samaj Party and BJP candidate RP Kushwaha.

On Ajgara seat, BSP candidate Tribhuwan Ram is facing tough challenge form Lalji Sonkar of the SP and Harinath Sonkar of the BJP. Congress candidate Mewalal Baghi is campaigning on his Gandhian image.

Despite changed equations on Pindara seat due to delimitation, Congress candidate Ajay Rai is making all possible efforts to shine his poll prospects. Rai who was earlier associated with the BJP and the SP, is being challenged by BJP candidate Purnamasi Verma. The SP has fielded Akhilesh Mishra and the BSP has reposed its hope on Jaiprakash Mishra.

On Sevapuri seat, the SP has once again reposed its faith in its sitting MLA Surendra Patel who is facing tough fight from Congress candidate Harshwardhan Singh, Manish Singh of the BSP and Devendra Pratap Singh of the BJP, Neelratna Patel of the Apna Dal. The seat is dominated by Patels or Kurmis whereas Bhumihars are on second position after Patels. In multi-cornered fight for the seat, the role of other communities like Brahmins, Rajputs and Muslims is also going to be decisive. About 1577612 voters in five constituencies of Mirzapur district are going to decide the fate of the 89 candidates from various parties.

BJP candidate Manoj Jaiswal, former district president, is contesting from Mirzapur (Urban) constituency. He is banking on the support of trading community here. Jaiswal is facing tough fight from state Minister and Aurai MLA Rangnath Mishra who is counting on Brahmin support. Sitting MLA Kailash Chaurasia is hoping to make a hat trick in the state Assembly with support of his own community besides Muslims and Traders. The Congress has fielded Deepchand Jain from here. A total of 331731 voters are going to decide the fate of 20 candidates for Mirzapur (Urban) seat on Wednesday (February 15th) in the third phase. A triangular fight is expected for the seat between the SP, the BSP and the BJP.

On Chhanbey seat, the BSP has fielded former District Board Chairman Shashi Bhushan against former MLA and Congress candidate Bhagwati Chaudhary. The SP has fielded Bhailal Kol, while Rajaram Saroj is contesting on the BJP ticket. All these main contestants are seeking people’s mandate while riding on the caste and religious planks.
Chunar under Mirzapur district is a high profile seat as BJP stalwart and former UP minister Om Prakash Singh is hoping to get into the state Assembly for the seventh time. He is putting main thrust on his developmental work carried out for the region. He is being challenged by last time runner and SP candidate Jagdamba Singh Patel, Ghanshyam Singh Patel of BSP and Congress candidate Ramraj Patel. A direct contest is expected between the BJP and the SP for the seat.

In Majhawan constituency, sitting MLA Ramesh Chandra Bind is hoping to enter the state Assemblyfor the third time. He is being challenged by Rajendra Prasad Pandey of the SP, Chetnarayan Singh of the BJP and Ajay Upadhayay of the Congress. A straight contest is expected between the SP and the BSP candidates for the seat. The BSP candidate is banking on the support of Binds and other Dalit communities.