Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's electoral fate will be decided in thesecond phase of the country's 2009 general elections on Thursday. As many as 324 aspirants are in the fray for 17 Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha seats that go to polls in the second of the five-phase voting.
Gandhi is seeking re-election from his family bastion Amethi for the second time. Significantly, 38 of the 324 candidates have criminal antecedents and were facing charges including murder, attempt to murder, extortion and kidnapping.
Ayodhya, the ancient Hindu temple town that has been in the spotlight for several decades, will also poll in this phase as part of the Faizabad Lok Sabha constituency that continues to draw its significance from the Ram Janambhoomi temple-Babri Masjid controversy.
Among the other key constituencies that go to poll in the second phase here is Allahabad, the home and political turf of India's first prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru. Barring Amethi, the remaining 16 constituencies were shared largely between the Samajwadi Party and the BSP in 2004. Nine were won by the Samajwadi Party, the BSP won six while one remained with the BJP.
Image: AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi being garlanded at an election campaign rally, in Sangli on April 19, 2009.PTI Photo (Copyright PTI. Unauthorised reproduction is prohibited.)