Touted as a direct battle between the alliances led by BJP and the Samajwadi Party, 59 seats will go to the polls in the third phase of the UP election on Sunday, February 20. There are 627 candidates in the fray for these constituencies spread over 16 districts-Kasganj, Hathras, Firozabad, Etah, Mainpuri, Farrukhabad, Kannauj, Etawah, Auraiya, Kanpur Dehat, Kanpur Nagar, Jalaun, Hamirpur, Mahoba, Jhansi, and Lalitpur. In the 2017 polls, BJP won 50 of these seats whereas SP, BSP and Congress emerged victorious in 7, 1 and 1 seats respectively.
Falling under the Mainpuri Lok Sabha constituency which is considered Mulayam Singh Yadav's turf, Karhal has been won by SP since 1993 barring 2002 when BJP's Sobaran Singh Yadav secured victory. The latter joined SP subsequently and has been the winning candidate of the Akhilesh Yadav-led party since 2007. A 4-time Lok Sabha MP, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav will contest an Assembly election for the first time. When he took oath as the CM in 2017, he preferred to get elected to the UP Legislative Council.
On the other hand, BJP has fielded Agra MP SP Singh Baghel who is currently serving as the Minister of State for Law and Justice in the Union government. Interestingly, he represented Jalesar in the Lok Sabha as an SP member from 1998 to 2009. Thereafter, he switched allegiance to BSP and was nominated to the Rajya Sabha until 2014 after which he joined BJP. In the 2017 Assembly polls, he won from Tundla and served as the Minister for Livestock, Minor Irrigation and Fisheries in the Yogi Adityanath-led government till 2019. Congress has decided to not contest this seat in a goodwill gesture towards SP.
An MLA of the Jaswantnagar Assembly constituency since 1996, the former UP Minister formed Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) on August 29, 2018, after leaving SP. Brushing aside initial hiccups, Akhilesh Yadav had announced an alliance between SP and PSP(L) after meeting his uncle on December 16. 2021. While Shivpal Yadav is contesting the election on the SP symbol, sources reveal that his son Aditya will be accommodated in the Legislative Council later. Just like Karhal, Congress has not fielded a candidate in Jaswantnagar either. Meanwhile, BJP has given the ticket to a young grassroots worker Vivek Shakya.
BJP has reposed faith in sitting MLA Major Sunil Dutt Dwivedi who defeated BSP's Mohd. Umar Khan by a margin of over 35,000 votes in the 2017 election. Moreover, BSP and SP have given the ticket to Vijay Kumar Katiyar and Suman Shakya respectively. In this constituency, Congress has fielded a strong candidate in Louise Khurshid, the wife of former Union Minister Salman Khurshid who was the chairman of the party's Central Manifesto Committee for the UP elections. She was elected to the Legislative Assembly in the 2002 Assembly polls from the Kaimganj seat.
This seat is expected to witness a direct faceoff between SP's sitting MLA Anil Kumar Dohare and Asim Arun of BJP. The SP candidate had defeated BJP's Banwari Lal Dohare by a margin of 2,454 votes in the previous election. On the other hand, Arun was the Kanpur Police Commissioner who joined the saffron party on January 16 after his application for the Voluntary Retirement Scheme was accepted.
A 1994-batch IPS officer, the BJP candidate hails from Kannauj and holds a Master's degree in Public Policy from British Columbia University. He has served in several important positions including the SP of Agra, Aligarh, Gorakhpur, Balrampur, Hathras and Siddharth Nagar and the head of the Close Protection Team guarding former PM Manmohan Singh as part of SPG. Besides this, he was a part of the United Nations Peace Keeping Mission in Kosovo in 2002-03.
A relative of SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, Hari Om Yadav crossed over to BJP on January 12 along with fellow MLA Naresh Saini. He served as the chairperson of Firozabad Zila Panchayat from 2000 until 2002 when he was elected to the Legislative Assembly from Shikohabad. However, he suffered a setback in the 2007 polls by losing to an Independent candidate. Subsequently, he won from the Sirsaganj seat in 2012 as well as 2017. SP has fielded Sarvesh Singh from here whereas Pankaj Mishra of BSP and Congress' Pratima Pal are also in the poll fray.