Fifty-seven seats of eastern Uttar Pradesh, spread across 10 districts, will vote today in the penultimate phase of election.
According to media reports, over 2.14 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise with a total of 676 candidates in the fray.
Focus has shifted to the crucial Purvanchal region, which has 111 seats, more than a quarter of the total, with voting for 292 out of the state’s 403 assembly seats already over.
Till 1 pm on Thursday, an average turnout of 36.3 per cent was recorded across constituencies.
The BJP had won 46 of the 57 seats voting today in the 2017 polls. The seats are spread across Ambedkar Nagar, Balrampur, Siddharthnagar, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria and Ballia.
Among the key candidates is Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, contesting his first assembly poll from Gorakhpur. Adityanath, the five-time MP from his stronghold Gorakhpur, is contesting from the Gorakhpur Urban seat. In 2017, party MLA Radha Mohan Das Agrawal won the seat with a 60,000-vote margin.
The Chief Minister asserted that the BJP would return to power, winning more than 300 seats, having cast his ballot Thursday morning.
The Samajwadi Party has pitted the wife of late Upendra Dutt Shukla, a former BJP leader, against the Chief Minister. Azad Samaj Party founder Chandrashekhar Azad is also in the running.
Adityanath duking it out with the other candidates has spurred expectations of a landslide BJP victory in all nine assembly seats under the Gorakhpur parliamentary constituency, on the back of a still-very-popular CM.
In 2017, the BJP had won eight of the nine seats.
The outcome in this phase will largely depend on the caste-laboratory where equations make up the political math. Other Backward Castes (OBCs) and Most Backward Castes (MBCs) in particular have influence on nearly 30 seats. The BJP’s alliance with the NISHAD Party is being looked at to curry favour with the dominant boatmen community in eastern UP.
Akhilesh Yadav and the Samajwadi Party in the opposition, is banking on ally Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), which has a broad support base among the Rajbhars and other MBCs. The SBSP has fielded candidates in eight seats.
Besides the Chief Minister, the prominent candidates in this phase include State Congress President Ajay Kumar Lallu contesting from Tamkuhi Raj, SP’s Swami Prasad Maurya from Fazilnagar, and SP’s Ram Govind Chaudhary from Bansdih.
The votes will be counted on March 10, as polling on 54 seats in Uttar Pradesh concludes on the 7th March.
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