Lucknow, May 12 : Polling commenced at a brisk note in 14 Lok Sabha constituencies spread out in 16 districts of Poorvanchal region of Uttar Pradesh in the sixth phase on Sunday.
Polling commenced at 7am and will continue till 6pm after holding mock poll before the political parties agents in all the 29,076 booths, said state chief electoral officer (CEO) Venketshwar Lu here on Sunday . Voters were seen reaching their respective booths well before 7am to beat the heat wave conditions .
He said in view of the ongoing heat wave conditions, authorities concerned have been directed to ensure drinking water, shed and other basic facilities for the voters in the districts going to polls. But reports said that in several places EVMs were not working properly leading to delay in the start of the voting.
The fate of Union Minister Maneka Gandhi (Sultanpur), Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav (Azamgarh) and UP cabinet minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi (Allahabad) will be decided in this phase. Bhojpuri actor Dinesh Lal Yadav, alias Nirhua, is the BJP candidate against Akhilesh Yadav from Azamgarh while Congress has fielded its old war horse Dr Sanjay Singh from Sultanpur against Union minister Maneka Gandhi.
There are a total of 177 candidates in the fray in this phase including 13 women. The constituencies going to polls in the sixth phase are: Sultanpur, Pratapgarh, Phulpur, Allahabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Shraswati, Domariyaganj, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Lalganj, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Machhlishahr and Bhadoi.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had won all the seats of this phase except for Azamgarh where the then SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav won by defeating BJP's Ramakant Yadav. But this time, Mulayam is contesting from Mainpuri and his son and SP president Akhilesh Yadav was contesting from the seat. However, during the bypolls in Phulpur too, the BJP was defeated by the SP candidate.
In the sixth phase of polls, a total of 2.57 crore electorate, including 1.38 crore males and 1.18 crore females are expected to cast their votes at 29,076 booths. Of the total booths 4995 have been identified as critical.
Of the voters, 3,63,220 are the first time voters in the age group of 18 to 19 yrs while 5,63,671 voters are above the age 80 years. Phulpur has the highest number of 20,06,228 voters while Pratapgarh has the lowest of 17,05,453.
To ensure free and fair polls, EC has deployed 2642 micro observers while webcasting would be done from 2947 booths. Besides, for law and order 2088 sector magistrates, 262 zonal magistrates and 607 static magistrates have been deployed in this phase. Around 1.28 lakh polling personnel have also been deployed.
Highest of 20 candidates in the fray are in Jaunpur in the sixth phase followed by 15 each in Sultanpur, Lalganj, Azamgarh and Macchlishahr, 14 each in Phulpur and Allahabad, 12 in Bhadoi, 11 each in Ambedkarnagar and Basti, 10 in Shraswati, 8 in Pratapgarh and lowest of 7 each in Sant Kabir Nagar and Doomariaganj. Over 1.5 lakh security personnel have been deployed for holding free and fair polls.The state government has deployed over 200 companies of central forces besides PAC and district police which will provide security to all the polling booths.
The Election Commission has made special security arrangements in Pratapgarh, Sultanpur and Bhadoi in view of its previous history of violence during the polls.
In the sixth phase, the number of criminal candidates decreased by six per cent to 21 pc with 33 per cent crorepatis.
A total of 36 or 21 per cent of the candidates declared criminal cases against themselves. Of these, 29 candidates or 17 per cent had heinous crimes against them.
Independent candidate Dhirendra Pratap Singh contesting from Shravasti has the highest number of eight criminal cases with 11 sections of IPC.
Ms Kamla Devi of Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party Lohia, contesting from Sultanpur, was on the second spot with five cases while Jansatta Dal Loktrantrik candidate Akshay Pratap Singh , cousin of Raja Bhaiyya, contesting from Pratapgarh seat is on the third place with four.
Among the crorepatis, 56 or 33 per cent candidates declared assets more than one crore each, of which 12 belonged BJP, 10 to BSP, 9 and 2 to Congress and SP respectively.
Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, BJP candidate from Sultanpur, was the richest candidate with assets of Rs 55.69 crore.
Campaigning in this crucial sixth phase of polls in 14 Lok Sabha seats of Poorvanchal in Uttar Pradesh ended on Friday evening.
The phase witnessed an electrifying campaigning by BJP and SP-BSP alliance as they left no stone unturned to woo the voters. However, heat wave conditions threw challenges at the political parties in this phase too.