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UP poll process begins today but parties yet to finalise strategy

Tuesday 13 March 2007, by KHAN*Atiq

62 Assembly constituencies will go to the polls on April 7

LUCKNOW: Political parties in Uttar Pradesh are yet to sort out poll equations including seat- sharing, caste balance and "winnability" criteria on the eve of the opening of nominations for the first phase of State Assembly elections on April 7. The State polls have been staggered into seven phases with the last phase on May 8.

The notification for filing of nominations for the first phase of polls will be issued on Tuesday. Nominations close on March 20. Sixty-two Assembly constituencies spread across Kanpur, Kanpur Dehat, Hamirpur, Jhansi, Etawah, Mainpuri, Etah, Firozabad and Agra districts will go to the polls on April 7.

Barring the ruling Samajwadi Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), none of the other parties have declared their lists of candidates. But the SP has announced the names of 58 candidates, including 37 for the first phase and 21 for the second round on April 13.

Announcing the list of candidates in the last week of February, SP general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav had stated that the remaining names would be announced soon. However, the party was yet to declare the nominees for the rest of the 25 seats where elections would be held in the first round.

Included in the list of the 25 seats were all the nine Assembly constituencies in Etah district in Central UP which is considered to be a Yadav stronghold. Samajwadi Party sources said the party is likely to leave two of the remaining 25 seats for the CPI (M).

Ties with small parties

While the SP was grappling with the winning-getting formula on the remaining first round seats, the BJP is divided on poll alliance with small parties, which had delayed the announcement of names. The saffron party had almost clinched a poll pact with Janata Dal (United), Apna Dal and Bahujan Samaj Party but the exercise hit a roadblock following stiff opposition from former Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, State BJP chief Kesari Nath Tripathi and Vinay Katiyar.

The BJP list would be declared after the scrutiny of names by the party’s Central Election Committee.

BSP list finalised

Though the Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati had finalised the names of candidates on around 250 seats, the list has not been officially declared. On her visit to Lucknow last week, the former Chief Minister held two rounds of discussions with divisional in-charges to thrash out the names. BSP sources said the party was waiting for the other parties to announce their candidates before releasing its list. They said several names might be changed.

The Congress, which is hoping to better its past performance in the upcoming elections, is yet to make up its mind on joining the "Fourth Front" comprising the Jan Morcha Alliance, Rashtriya Lok Dal, Nationalist Congress Party, CPI and some smaller parties. Last Friday, Jan Morcha president, Raj Babbar met Congress MP Rahul Gandhi who had been entrusted with the responsibility of finalising the Congress candidates.

This was followed by Mr. Babbar’s meeting with RLD president Ajit Singh. Mr. Singh had earlier met Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Even as Jan Morcha’s poll alliance with RLD was on the cards, the list would be announced after the larger alliance had taken shape, said UP Congress sources.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission of India has barred entry of more than three vehicles within 100-metre radius of the Returning Officer’s chamber when nominations open on Tuesday.

Chief Electoral Officer Anuj Kumar Bishnoi told newsmen that only five persons, including the candidate, would be allowed to enter the Returning Officer’s room. He said video-graphy would be done of the vehicles entering the 100-metre periphery.

He said this order would apply to independent candidates as well.

See online : The Hindu

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