Lucknow: Amid tight security, polling began this morning in 51 Assembly constituencies of Uttar Pradesh spread across 11 districts that figure in the fifth phase, with all eyes on the Nehru-Gandhi pocket borough Amethi.
Prominent contestants in this phase include controversial minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati (SP), who will be facing Amita Singh (Congress) and Garima Singh (BJP) in Amethi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Rahul Gandhi.
Amita is the wife of Congress leader Sanjay Singh, while Garima is his estranged spouse, making the contest a “rani versus rani” affair.
The districts going to polls in this phase are Balrampur, Gonda, Faizabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Bahraich, Shravasti, Basti, Siddharth Nagar, Sant Kabir Nagar, Amethi and Sultanpur.
Due to death of Samajwadi Party candidate Chandrashekhar Kanaujia in Alapur (Ambedkar Nagar), the EC has announced fresh date of voting in this constituency on March 9.
The ruling Samajwadi Party had won 37 seats out of 52 (total seats in this phase including Alapur) in 2012. While BJP and Congress won five seats each, BSP had won three and Peace Party two.
In all, 607 candidates are in the fray in this phase with maximum of 24 candidates in Amethi and minimum of six each in Kapilvastu and Etwa seats in Siddharth Nagar district.
Over 1.81 crore voters, including over about 84 lakh women, will decide the fate of ministers Vinod Kumar Singh alias Pandit Singh from Tarabganj (Gonda), Tej Narain Pandey alias Pawan Pandey from Ayodhya and BSP state president Ram Achal Rajbhar from Akbarpur, among others, in this phase.
Maximum number of 4,38,106 voters are in Mehdawal (Sant Kabir Nagar), while minimum 3,04934 voters are in Tanta (Ambedkarnagar).
There are 12,555 polling centres and 18,822 polling booths in this phase. The turnout in these constituencies in 2012 was 57.09 per cent.
For free and fair polls, 1,442 sector magistrates, 180 zonal magistrates and 170 static magistrates have been deployed besides police and general observers.
Gonda is close to Nepal and so are Bahraich, Shravasti, Balrampur and Sidhharth Nagar districts, adjacent to the Terai region in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Central forces are on high alert in these areas to ensure that no mischief monger sneaks into the Indian territory or escapes after committing any crime.
In his speech in Gonda, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had referred to the Kanpur train tragedy in which 150 people were killed and said the accident was due to a “conspiracy” and the perpetrators carried it out “sitting across the border”.