The third phase of the electoral battle in Uttar Pradesh (UP) is a trial by fire for the Samajwadi Party (SP). The party had suffered a humiliating defeat in its own home in the last assembly election in 2017 when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had swept the polls in UP, including in eight districts of Yadav Land.

That defeat had cost SP chief Akhilesh Yadav power in UP. Today Akhilesh Yadav is on his feet in a desperate bid to woo his constituency back. Voting has moved from two rounds of voting west of the state, into the third phase heartland of Avadh.

In the third phase of the elections, votes will be cast in what is popularly known as Yadav Land on February 20.

Akhilesh is contesting from Karhal while his uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav is facing the elections in Jaswantnagar. Today there is unity within the Yadav family and not many family members have been given a ticket to contest the UP elections. The number of Muslims contesting as SP candidates is also minimal. This is all part of a calibrated strategy to improve the image of the SP as a party that favours not just Yadavs and Muslims. And represents just the family and is home to bullies and musclemen.

Zeba Yasmin, SP social media in-charge, seldom tires of repeating that the SP under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav is a new party.

However, father Mulayam Singh seems to appreciate the evolving SP and campaigned in Mainpuri district's Karhal on Thursday for Akhilesh Yadav, saying that the party's priority was the welfare of farmers and to provide them facilities for irrigation, seeds and fertilizers for increased productivity.

The slogan for the SP today is that it is a new SP, it is a new wave:nai sapa hai nai hawa hai.

Election time is an occasion to travel around the countryside that is laden with different vegetation at this time of the year.Sitting under a mango tree on the outskirts of Lucknow and talking politics in the open, is a luxury enjoyed by urbanites only during elections.

The air is always fresh in the countryside, the sunshine soothing and the vegetation lush.

The local landlord said over tea and biscuits that he supports the SP candidate in his area only because the politician is not a Yadav. While the Muslim landlord faces a lot of administrative problems and harassment under the ruling BJP government, he said that when the SP was in power, officials from the Yadav community were lawless and made everyday life unpleasant for ordinary citizens.

He did not want his name revealed and added that the Yadav has displayed his power in the past crudely. “When a Brahmin or a Thakur is in power they do not trouble villagers unnecessarily, and every day. Yadavs when in power are mostly cruel and quarrelsome,” he insisted.

For that reason voters hesitate to vote for the SP. Some point to the air of haughtiness already visible in Akhilesh Yadav. And hope that success will not go to his head, and he will provide the leadership UP deserves.

At the moment life for voters in UP is full of woes.

“No dawai (medicine) no kamai (employment) no safai (cleanliness) is the state of UP,” says one on the road. Asked about free rations he says this is not coming from the pocket of politicians.

‘It is the government that has made us poorer and now taking credit for doing us a favour by distribution of rations free of cost,’he says with the wisdom of the UP fields.

Will it get any better? Who knows? 135 candidates contesting elections in the third phase of voting in UP on February 20 have criminal cases against them. According to a report by the UP Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) no party is exempt from this malaise.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati addressed a rally near Jhansi where voting takes place on February 20. The crowds wondered at her words promising achche din (good days) sounding similar to promises made in the past by the BJP?

Unmesh in Hindi means to be aware, and in English the word can be read as unmesh, or to disentangle.

Not much is known about the young Bachcha Lal Unmesh except that he studied at the Benaras Hindu University. He is a budding poet from Bhadohi who lives in Varanasi.

His poem kaun jaat ho bhai is originally in Hindi, and popular on social media. The poem is a great read during election time in the state, and for all those who are unable to read Hindi I have translated it into English:

What caste are you brother?
Dalit Saheb!
I mean where do you stand?
In your abuse Saheb! In the drain I stand, and before the separate plate of food Saheb.
I thought you stand with the Hindu.
I do Saheb! But only when you go to the polls.
What do you eat brother?
What a Dalit eats Saheb!
No, I mean what all do you live on?
Your kicks. The burden of debt I live on and when desperate on salt and pickle.
No, I thought chicken is what you eat!
I do Saheb! But only when you go to the polls.
What do you drink brother?
What a Dalit drinks Saheb!
No, I mean what all do you drink?

The cup of untouchability. Sips of broken promises and illusions witnessed by the naked eye Saheb!
I thought you might like alcohol!
I drink of course Saheb! But only when you go to the polls. What did you get brother?
What a Dalit gets Saheb!
No I mean what all did you get?
A life of indignity. Your left over so filthy. And above all love of parasites like you.
I thought you got promises.
Do get promises Saheb! But only when you go to the polls. What have you done brother?
What a Dalit does Saheb!
No, I mean what all have you done?
Hundred days of work in the pond from dawn to dusk swimming in sweat. And saluting all the Thakurs who passed by Saheb!
I thought you did something great.
Did so Saheb! Campaigned for you when went to the polls.