Lucknow, Apr 9: Campaigning for the first phase of polls in eight Lok Sabha seats came to an end this evening with polling scheduled for Thursday. Security personnel have spread out to the polling booths to take their duty for the voting to be held between 0700 hours to 1800 hours on April 11, Thursday. Forces held flag marches in sensitive pockets while liquor shops have been closed till the end of the polling in these constituencies. Inter state borders with Delhi, Haryana and Uttarakhand have been sealed in the eight constituencies.
Western UP is expected to have a major say in the formation of the next government at the Centre, when 16 seats will go to polls in first two phases on April 11 and 18, Thursday. With inclement weather and hail storm with rains in western UP in the past 48 hours, the temperature has come down benefiting politicians in their campaigning.
On the last day on Tuesday, Indian National Congress general secretary( UP east) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra held roadshows in Saharanpur and Bijnore. Party president Rahul Gandhi gave a total miss in the first phase when his joint rallies with his sister on Monday was cancelled due to bad weather.
Priyanka had already held a roadshow in Ghaziabad while Scindia had addressed couple of meetings in west UP. Prime Minister Narendra Modi sounded the poll bugle here with his first rally in Meerut on March 28 and it was followed by rallies at Amroha and Saharanpur on April 5, Friday. Contenders Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah held two rallies at Nagina and Bijnore besides going for another couple of rallies for the first two phases. UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, is already criss-crossing the state, holding several rallies on a daily basis along with other senior leaders of the his party. Yogi will hold four election meetings in Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat, Kairana and Bijnore on Monday and on Tuesday he will address rallies at Meerut and Hapur.
However, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, along with their partners Rashtriya Lok Dal organised a joint rally in Deoband in Saharanpur on Sunday in a show of unity.Akhilesh Yadav’s SP and Mayawati’s BSP, along with the Rashtriya Lok Dal, are contesting the Lok Sabha polls together. Former UP Chief Minister Mayawati on Monday had campaigned in Meerut and Gautam Buddha Nagar, while SP chief Akhilesh Yadav addressed meetings at Ghaziabad and Baghpat. In the first phase, eight seats will go to polls -Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Bagpat, Saharanpur, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor and Kairana. The BJP currently holds all the seats, barring Kairana, which it lost to the SP-BSP-RLD alliance in last year’s by-poll. Contests In most of the seats there is a direct contest between the grand alliance (BSP-SP and RLD) and the BJP, but presence of Congress in some seats has made the contest triangular, expected to give some 'benefit' to the BJP.
In the first phase there are total 1,50,65,682 voters - 82,24,835 males and 68,39,833 females along with 1014 third gender who would exercise their votes in 1618 booths to decide the fate of 96 candidates in the fray. Of these candidates, 17 have cases of heinous crime against them while 39 are crorepatis, including BSP nominee Mulak Nagar, contesting from Bijnore, who has declared assets of Rs 249 crores. In this phase, there are three Union ministers-Dr Mahesh Sharma( G B Nagar), General (retd ) V K Singh ( Ghaziabad) and Satpal Singh( Baghpat)-in the fray. There are 13 candidates in the reckoning from Gautam Buddha Nagar seat, Kairana , Baghpat and Bijnore, 12 in Ghaziabad, 11 in Meerut and Saharanpur and 10 in Muzaffarnagar. More than 100 companies of Central forces along with 300 of Provincial Armed Constabulary and over 10,000 policemen and polling officials have been deployed for the first phase of polls to ensure transparent and free and fair polls. EC will go for live telecast of votes in some selected booths while micro observers will be deployed to oversee the fairness of the polling. (UNI)