Polling began to the 69 of the 70 assembly seats of Uttarakhand amid tight security today with people queueing up outside polling booths since early morning to cast their votes. The second phase of voting also began in 67 Assembly constituencies spread over 11 districts of western Uttar Pradesh.
In Uttarakhand, polling schedule for Karnaprayag seat in Chamoli district has been revised to March 9 due to the death of BSP candidate Kuldeep Singh Kanwasi in a road accident on Sunday last. Over 74 lakh voters will seal the fate of 628 candidates in EVM machines between 8 AM to 5 PM when polling concludes in U’khand, state Election office informed.
All arrangements are in place to ensure free and fair elections in the state with a deployment of nearly 30,000 security personnel and 60,000 polling officials on a total of 10,685 booths across Uttarakhand out of which 460 are in snowbound areas.
In Uttarakhand, most of the seats ruling Congress and BJP are locked in straight contests but rebel candidates of both parties who have entered the fray as independents may play a crucial role in upsetting the calculations of the official nominees of their respective parties.
12 former Congress MLAs contesting as BJP candidates and two former BJP MLAs travelling in Congress boat have made these elections interesting. Uttarakhand Chief minister Harish Rawat who is seeking a second stint in office is contesting from two seats, Haridwar (rural) and Kichha in Udhamsingh Nagar district.
BJP heavyweight Satpal Maharaj is contesting from Chaubatakhal whereas Pradesh BJP president Ajay Bhatt is battling it out in Ranikhet in Uttarakhand. Making corruption its main poll plank BJP has asked people to vote for change whereas Congress is seeking a second term in power to carry out unfinished development work.
In UP, of the 67 seats at stake, ruling Samajwadi Party had won 34 in 2012, followed by BSP 18, BJP 10, Congress three and others two. In this phase, 720 candidates are in the fray with a maximum of 22 from Barhapur (Bijnor) and a minimum of four nominees from Dhanaura (Amroha).
Prominent contestants include controversial SP minister Azam Khan and his son Abdullah Azam, who are contesting from Rampur and Swar seats respectively, Saif Ali Naqvi, son of former Congress MP Zafar Ali Naqvi, former central minister Jitin Prasada from Tilhar (Shahjahanpur), BJP Legislature Party leader Suresh Kumar Khanna from Shahjahanpur city and state minister Mehboob Ali from Amroha.
(With inputs from PTI)
(Feature image source: Reuters)