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LS polls 4th phase: Campaigning ends for 13 seats in UP; high stakes for SP chief, BJP's Teni

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Lucknow, May 11 (PTI) Campaigning for the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh ended at 6 pm on Saturday with leaders of various political parties making a last-minute appeal to voters to vote for their respective party candidates.

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Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath addressed election rallies in Unnao, Kannauj and Kanpur on Saturday, while the Samajwadi Party (SP) held a public outreach programme in Kannauj Lok Sabha constituency from where Adityanath is contesting the polls.

Voting in the state in the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha polls will be held on May 13, covering the 13 constituencies of Shahjahanpur (SC), Khiri, Dhaurahra, Sitapur, Hardoi (SC), Misrikh (SC), Unnao, Farrukhabad, Etawah (SC), Kannauj, Kanpur, Akbarpur and Bahraich (SC).

A total of 130 candidates are in the poll fray in this phase.

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The prestige of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra Teni, who is eyeing a hat trick from Kheri and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, seeking a re-election from Kannauj, are at stake in the fourth phase of polling.

Among the 13 poll-bound constituencies, a close contest awaits between SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and sitting BJP MP Subrat Pathak in Kannauj, while in Unnao, incumbent BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj (Swami Sachidanand Hari Sakshi) is up against SP's Annu Tandon (a former Lok Sabha MP from Unnao).

Tandon had contested against Sakshi Maharaj as a Congress candidate in 2014 and 2019, but had lost on both occasions. She had won the Unnao Lok Sabha seat in 2009 on a Congress ticket.

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Of the 13 parliamentary constituencies going to polls in the fourth phase, the BJP has reposed its faith on 11 sitting MPs by giving them tickets, while it has fielded new candidates Ramesh Awasthi from Kanpur and Anand Kumar from the Bahraich-SC seat.

In the INDIA bloc, the SP has fielded candidates from 11 Lok Sabha seats in this phase, while on two seats -- Kanpur (Alok Misra) and Sitapur (Rakesh Rathor) -- candidates of the Congress are in the fray.

As many as four BJP candidates --- Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni (Kheri), Rekha Verma (Dhaurahra), Mukesh Rajput (Farrukhabad) and Devendra Singh alias Bhole (Akbarpur) -- are eyeing a hat trick of wins, while Rajesh Verma is eyeing a fifth term from Sitapur.

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Ashok Kumar Rawat and Ram Shankar Katheria are eyeing a fourth term from Misrikh (SC) and Etawah (SC) respectively. Sitting MP from Hardoi (SC) Jai Prakash and incumbent from Unnao Sakshi Maharaj are eyeing a sixth term in the Lok Sabha.

Over 2.46 crore voters will be eligible to exercise their voting rights in the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha polls in the state.

Alike other poll phases, campaigning for the fourth phase also witnessed attacks and counter-attacks by leaders from various political parties on their rivals.

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Slamming the Congress and INDIA bloc, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Dhaurahra on May 5 had said that Muslims now understand that the Congress and INDIA bloc are using them as pawns, asserting that the community is distancing itself from them after seeing the development carried out by the BJP.

"Muslim brothers and sisters are seeing that (houses under) PM housing scheme was given to all the needy. Be it water connection or gas cylinder under Ujjwala Yojana, every government benefit was given to all...they (Muslims) are also getting benefits of all schemes without discrimination," Modi said.

"The Muslim community also realises that the Congress and INDI alliance have made them pawns," he said, adding that "that is why the Muslim community is also distancing itself from these contractors of vote bank politics".

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Now, to save the Muslim vote bank, these people (opposition) are playing a new game and are out doing appeasement in the open, he had said.

The prime minister had also said the manifesto of the opposition reflects Muslim League's thinking.

On the same day, Modi had lashed out at the "dynastic politics" of the SP the Congress during a rally in Etawah, saying while the opposition alliance partners work only to benefit their own families, he is building a better future for the nation's next generations.

Referring to himself and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, he had said, "We don't have children. We are working for your children." Meanwhile, on Friday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said an INDIA bloc storm is arriving in Uttar Pradesh, and asserted that Narendra Modi will not make it to the post of prime minister this time.

You take it as a written guarantee that Narendra Modi is not going to become the prime minister of India. It's over, he said at a rally in Kannauj.

Gandhi and Yadav addressed joint rallies in Kannauj and Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, where the two parties are contesting as allies. Under their seat-sharing agreement, the Congress is fighting on 17 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

In his Kanpur address, Gandhi claimed the Congress will win at least 50 seats in UP.

On May 4, Modi held a roadshow in Kanpur to campaign for the BJP's candidates from the Kanpur and Akbarpur constituencies.

A large crowd cheered for the prime minister and waved cutouts of the BJP's election symbol 'lotus' as he greeted them from his car. Modi also visited the Gumati Gurdwara before starting his roadshow.

Children, women and elders lined the streets as the prime minister's motorcade passed through. The crowd shouted slogans and showered flower petals.

Adityanath on Saturday claimed that SP chief Akhilesh Yadav jumped into the poll fray, when the INDIA bloc could not find a candidate for Kannauj.

Addressing an election rally in Kannauj, he alleged that the SP withdrew the ticket it gave to the first candidate in the constituency.

"The second candidate left the poll fray. The third candidate refused to contest the polls. When they could not find a candidate for Kannauj, the SP chief said he wanted to serve the people," Adityanath claimed.

The SP chief on Saturday termed the ongoing Lok Sabha elections as as a "national movement" for the cause of the Constitution and to protect reservations as he called upon his party members to join it to change the fate of the country.

Meanwhile, campaigning for bypolls to Dadraul assembly constituency in Shahjahanpur district also ended on Saturday.

The assembly seat of Dadraul fell vacant following the death of BJP MLA Manvendra Singh on January 5 due to prolonged illness. He was 70. Having been with the Congress for a long time, Singh joined the BJP in 2017 and became an MLA from Dadraul. He retained his seat in the 2022 polls.

There are 10 candidates in the poll fray for the Dadraul assembly by-election. PTI NAV RPA

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