Lucknow, May 18: Over 2 lakh security personnel have been deployed in 13 Lok Sabha seats in Poorvanchal area of Uttar Pradesh, which will go to polls in the seventh and last phase on Sunday.
The fate of PM Narendra Modi (Varanasi), Union Ministers Manoj Sinha (Ghazipur), and Apna Dal (Sonelal) founder Aunpriya Patel (Mirzapur), UP BJP president Dr Mahendra Nath Pandey (Chandauli), Bhojpuri actor and BJP candidate Ravi Kishan (Gorakhpur) will be decided in this phase. Polling would be held from 7am to 6pm at over 26,000 booths except for three Assembly segments -- Robertsganj, Dudhi and Chakia of the Robertsganj Lok Sabha seat where the polling will end two hours earlier at 4pm.
Along with the 13 Lok Sabha seats, bypolls to Agra(north) Assembly seat would be held too on May 19. State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Vekenteshwar Lu said here on Saturday that polling parties were being dispatched to their respective booths from this morning. 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.
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. To instill confidence among the voters, paramilitary forces were doing flag marches in vulnerable areas. The Election Commission has made special security arrangements in Ghosi, Ghazipur, Ballia, Mirzapur and Gorakhpur in view of its previous history of violence during the polls.
There are a total of 167 candidates in the fray in this phase. The constituencies going to polls in the seventh phase are: Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria, Basgaon, Ghosi, Salempur, Ballia, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur and Robertsganj.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, BJP had won all the seats of this phase. But in the bypolls in Gorakhpur, Samajwadi Party snatched the seat in the bypolls.
In the seventh phase of polls, a total of 2.36 crore electorate, including 1.28 crore male and 1.08 crore female, are expected to cast their votes in over 26,000 booths. In this phase, Varanasi has the highest number of 26 candidates in fray followed by 15 each in Ghosi and Salempur, 14 each in Majarajganj, Kushinagar and Ghazipur, 13 in Chandauli, 12 in Robertsganj, 11 in Deoria, 10 each in Ballia and Gorakhpur, nine in Mirzapur and lowest of 4 in Basgaon.
Twelve candidates are in the fray for Agra (North) assembly bypolls to be held along with the last phase of polls on May 19. In this phase, 26 per cent candidates have criminal cases, including 22 per cent who have heinous criminal cases against them. Mafia don Atiq Ahmed, who is contesting as an Independent from Varanasi is on the top of the list with a record 59 cases while BSP candidate Atul Kumar Rai, contesting from Ghosi seat, is on the second place with 13 cases. Presently, Rai is on the run following threat over his arrest in a rape case.
Congress candidate from Varanasi Ajay Rai too is on the third spot with eight cases registered against him. BJP's Pankaj Choudhury contesting from Maharajganj seat is the richest candidate in the phase with asset of Rs 37 crore while Congress candidate from Kushinagar R P N Singh, who has an asset worth over Rs 29 crore, is second wealthiest candidate.
Mafia don Atiq Ahmed, who is on the top of the criminal list in this phase is on the third place with properties worth over Rs 25 crore.
The exhilarating campaigning for the crucial seventh and last phase of polls ended on Friday with BJP and SP-BSP alliance going for a high-voltage electioneering and leaving no stone unturned to woo the voters. However, heat wave conditions are throwing challenges at the political parties in this phase too.
The epicentre of the campaigning in this phase was Varanasi, from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the candidate of the BJP while another one is Gorakhpur, where the stake of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath would be decided. BJP continued its campaigning in a big way in this phase too. PM Modi, BJP president Amit Shah along with UP CM Adityanath and several union ministers and senior leaders campaigned in almost all the 13 constituencies.
The Prime Minister, who held an impressive roadshow prior to the filing of his nomination papers on April 26, but did not campaign in his constituency. Mr Modi had already released a video appealing to the voters of his constituency to support his candidature. Congress general secretary for Uttar Pradesh (East) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra too held a roadshow in Varanasi on Wednesday in support of party candidate Ajay Rai while the SP-BSP alliance would hold a joint meeting of BSP chief Mayawati and SP president Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday in support of the SP candidate Shalini Yadav.
In a last push to attract voters, the Prime Minister addressed three rallies in Mau, Chandauli and Mirzapur and BJP national president Amit Shah five rallies and a road show in Gorakhpur in the state on Thursday.
Mr Adityanath, who is shuttling between Varanasi and Gorakhpur, also criss-crossed the constituencies to address the election meetings along with his colleagues. On Friday, Yogi addressed three more rallies in Salempur, Basgaon and Gorakhpur before the end of the campaigning.
The Congress too pushed its campaign in the last moment when on Friday Priyanka held roadshows in Mirzapur and Kushinagar besides addressed a meeting in Maharajganj on Thursday. Congress president Rahul Gandhi also addressed a meeting in Kushingar on Thursday.
The SP-BSP alliance held two joint meetings at Mirzapur and Chandauli on Friday to step up their campaigning before it ended.