The battle for Uttar Pradesh has begun as the first phase of polling in the Jat-dominant belt of western part of the populous state is underway.
As people queue up to exercise their electoral right and determine the future of 623 candidates, here’s a look at some key battles in the first phase.
It is important to note that in the 2017 Assembly elections, the BJP had won 53 of the 58 constituencies in western Uttar Pradesh.
Kairana is one of the most talked-about electoral battles in the state. The BJP has picked Mriganka Singh, daughter of the late MP Hukum Singh, as its candidate from Kairana. From the SP, is Nahid Hasan, the sitting MLA.
Ever since the early 1990s, Kairana has sent representatives from both these families to the state Assembly as well as the Lok Sabha. Through the decades the two clans changed their political allegiances at various points of time. But it was always Singh versus Hasan.
Mathura is also set for a high-pitched battle with sitting BJP MLA Shrikant Sharma, a minister in the Adityanath government, contesting to retain the seat he first won in 2017. Earlier, speculation was rife that UP deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya was eyeing this seat.
Shrikant Sharma is up against BSP’s SK Sharma, SP’s Devendra Agrawal and Pradeep Mathur of the Congress.
Shrikant Sharma had trounced his nearest rival, Pradeep Mathur, by a margin of over one lakh votes in 2017.
In Muzaffarnagar, Kapil Dev Agarwal, a sitting BJP MLA and minister in the Yogi Adityanath-led UP government, will face the challenge from RLD’s Saurabh Swaroop Bansal.
The memories of the Muzaffarnagar riots are still fresh in the minds of the voters and it is left to be seen if it has any impact on the polls.
For the unversed, the riots, which took place in August-September 2013 during the SP rule, claimed the lives of 62 people and around 50,000 were displaced after the riots.
In Agra district, the Agra Rural seat has perhaps the most interesting poll battle. The BJP has fielded former Uttarakhand governor Baby Rani Maurya. Having served as the mayor of Agra from 1995 to 2000, Baby Rani Maurya narrowly lost to her BSP opponent from the Etmadpur seat in the 2007 Assembly polls.
She has been fielded against BSP’s Kiran Prabha Kesari, RLD’s Mahesh Kumar, AAP’s Arun Kumar Katheria and Upendra Singh of the Congress.