Nearly 2.6 crore people in the poll-bound region are eligible to vote in the first of the seven phases of high-stake Assembly elections, seen as a litmus test for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nearly three-year rule.
839 candidates, including from main contenders BJP, BSP, allies Congress and Samajwadi party, RLD as well independents, are in the fray from the seats in 15 districts where 26,823 polling stations have been set up.
Among the electorate are 1.17 crore women and 1,508 belonging to third gender category. The largest constituency in terms of electorate is Sahibabad, while Jalesar is the smallest.
The maximum number of 26 candidates are in fray from Agra South, while the least number of aspirants are in Hastinapur which has six candidates.
Security arrangements to ensure peaceful polling
Elaborate security arrangements have been made in all districts. District Election Officer DK Singh said out of 887 polling centres in riot-scarred Muzaffarnagar, around 600 are critical where video cameras will be installed to maintain the strict vigil.
Around 6,000 paramilitary personnel are being deployed in all the 887 polling centres in Muzaffarnagar and neighbouring Shamli to instill a sense of fearlessness among voters, especially with focus on the areas which had witnessed communal riots in 2013.
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Four-cornered fight for 73 seats
Western UP is witnessing a four-cornered contest between Samajwadi Party, in alliance with Congress, Modi-led BJP, Mayawati’s BSP and Ajit Singh-led RLD.
BJP, which increased its voter base considerably in Lok Sabh elections in 2014 by winning 68 parliamentary seats from the region, is hopeful to make a clean sweep in the region. But polls results from previous assembly elections, which gave 24 seats to both BSP and winner SP, keeps giving confidence to the two frontrunners.
Ajit Singh’s RLD, which managed 9 seats in last assembly elections, is likely to struggle to retain the seats in the high-stake elections.
Spearheading the BJP campaign, Modi had highlighted demonetisation as an “anti-graft” and “pro-poor” measure and promised to push his development agenda in the state.
Read | PM Modi takes jibe on Rahul Gandhi: ‘No other leader has as many jokes on him as he has’
Young guns Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi, who have added a new dimension to the contest with the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance, have claimed that BJP will face the wrath of the common man who “suffered” due to the note ban.
The first phase of voting in the Muslim-dominated region could throw light on the presence of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) led by Asaduddin Owaisi.
The Muslim-dominated areas in the belt will be an acid test for BSP chief Mayawati, who is banking heavily on Dalit and Muslim votes. The region was once BSP’s favourite hunting ground.
(With inputs from PTI)
Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections 2017: Full Coverage
Important details about Uttar Pradesh Elections
# Total Assembly Constituencies: 73
# Date of Polling: February 11 (Phase 1 out of 7 phases)
# Total Electorate: 2.6 crore (including 1.17 crore women; 1,508 third gender)
# Number of Polling Stations: 26,823
# Major Parties & Alliance
- SP (Samajwadi Party) + Indian National Congress
- Bhartiya Janta Party
- Bahujan Samaj Party
- RLD (Rashtriya Lok Dal)
# 2012 Assembly Election Results:
- SP: 24 Seats
- BSP: 24 Seats
- BJP: 11 Seats
- Congress: 5 Seats
- RLD: 9 Seats
- Others: 0 Seat
# 2014 Lok Sabha Election Result
- BJP: 68 Seats
- SP: 5 Seats
- Others: 0 Seat