As the Uttar Pradesh assembly election campaign hits new lows, Rediff.com's Aslam Hunani walks you through all you need to know about the fifth phase of polling on February 27.
As polling in the politically significant Uttar Pradesh assembly elections crossed the halfway mark, the campaigning plumbed new lows in mudslinging and name calling.
Polling has been completed in four phases for 262 seats.
The fifth phase of polling -- where 52 seats spread over 11 districts of Balrampur, Gonda, Faizabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Bahraich, Shrawasti, Siddharthnagar, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Sultanpur and the Gandhi family bastion of Amethi are up for grabs -- will take place on February 27.
This phase of polling is home to districts with historical significance that have seen terrible decline.
Probably the most emblematic of this issue is the Shravasti district.
'It has the state's lowest per capita income, lowest literacy rate, no registered factories or other establishments, The Times of India noted. 'There is an irony here: Shravasti was the capital of the great ancient kingdom of Kosala and Gautam Buddha spent 24 years here.'
'Just 1 per cent of the state's 4,280 degree colleges are in this region, and on average 40 to 60 per cent children are underweight, and almost all anemic as per the Census's 2014 Health Survey... Infant mortality rates are chillingly high, reaching 130 deaths per 1,000 live births in Shravasti and 115 in (the also iconic) Ayodhya Faizabad,' the report added.
However, like in Phase 4 of the elections, the dominant campaign rhetoric has been mudslinging rather than development.
On February 22, the the Bharatiya Janata Party's Amit Shah dubbed his rivals -- the Samajwadi Party, Congress, and Bahujan Samaj Party -- as KASAB. He used the acronym 'KASAB', saying 'Ka' (in Hindi) stands for Congress, 'Sa' for the Samajwadi Party and 'Ba' for the BSP.
Development would elude UP, Shah said, till 'KASAB is laid to rest.'
Shah was lambasted by BSP chief Mayawati and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. Mayawati said there 'cannot be a bigger Kasab' than Shah, while Akhilesh said, 'BJP people have lost the battle on the ground and so their language has changed.'
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had coined the acronym 'SCAM' for the SP, Congress, Akhilesh and Mayawati, and dubbed the BSP as 'Behenji Sampatti Party'.
Mayawati had retaliated by calling the BJP the Bhartiya Jumla (rhetoric) Party. And Akhilesh had given his own spin to the acronym -- 'Save Country from Amit Shah and Modi.'
In the fifth phase, all eyes will be on the Amethi and Gauriganj assembly seats because despite a poll alliance between Congress and the ruling Samajwadi Party in UP, candidates of both parties will contest against each other here.
In Amethi, the Congress' Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh's wife Ameeta Singh will contest against controversial state minister Gayatri Prajapati, an accused in the gang-rape of a women who managed to get a ticket from the SP despite having differences with Akhilesh Yadav.
In the Gauriganj assembly segment, Congress nominee Mohammed Naeem is contesting against sitting SP MLA Rakesh Pratap Singh. Gauriganj is also among the touch-and-go seats of this phase.
As per the data from the Association for Democratic Reforms, the BSP and the BJP have fielded the most number of candidates with criminal cases against them.
These cases include those related to murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, crimes against women, etc.
A total of 168 or 27 per cent candidates in the fray in this phase are 'crorepatis'.
The wealthiest candidate, according to his self-declared affidavit, is Ajay Pratap Singh, who is running for the Colonelganj seat in Gonda district on a BJP ticket. He has declared assets worth ₹49 crores (Rs 490 million).
When it comes to education, the candidates in this phase are no better -- 266 candidates or 43 per cent of them have declared their educational qualification to be between the 5th and 12th standards.
Only 285 or 47 per cent of the candidates have an educational qualification of graduate or above.
The gender inequality score in the fifth phase is dismal: Only 43 or 7 percent of the candidates are female.
As the election heads to the final two phases -- which includes high-profile seats like Azamgarh and Varanasi -- the campaign rhetoric is only expected to get worse.
Polling for the sixth phase, for 49 seats spread across seven districts, will be held on March 4.
The road so far...
- UP Phase 1: The battle for Western UP
- UP Phase 2: A test of minority outreach
- UP Phase 3: Akhilesh Yadav's litmus test
- UP Phase 4: In the underbelly
Scroll down for more election features from Uttar Pradesh.