Campaigning for the first phase of Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh ends this evening. A total of 73 constituencies, in the western part of the state will go to polls in the first phase on Saturday (February 11).
The seats are spread across 15 districts, including Muzaffarnagar and Shamli that were hit by communal riots in 2013. The other districts are Baghpat, Meerut, Ghaziabad, Gautam Budh Nagar, Hapur, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Mathura, Hathras, Agra, Etah, Firozabad and Kasganj.
In Muzaffarnagar alone, 50 companies of CRPF have been deployed and all the polling booths of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli will be manned by CRP jawans. Initially only 18 flying squads were constituted to check and seize illegal money and liquor etc in Muzaffarnagar but its number has now been enhanced to 54 make the drive more effective.
Polling in these seats would be held on February 11.
Stakes are high for all parties as this phase is likely to set the tone for the elections in the remaining six phases which would end on March 8.
There are 2.57 crore eligible voters in the first phase which includes more than 24 lakh first-time voters in the age group of 18-19 years and 1.17 crore women.
While the BJP did exceedingly well in the region in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) shared 24 seats each in the 2012 assembly elections.
The BJP won 11, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) nine and the Congress five seats in the last assembly polls. This time around the Congress is contesting the polls in alliance with the SP.
Also, the notification for the seventh and final phase of the polls will be issued today. Elections will be held in 40 Assembly segments in the final phase on March 8. The last date for filing of nominations is February 16 while the withdrawal of candidature can be done till the 20th.
Today is also the last day for withdrawal of nominations for the fourth phase. Voting in this phase will take place in 53 constituencies on the 23rd of this month.
For the fifth phase, in which 52 Assembly segments will go to polls on the 27th of this month, today is the last date for filing of nominations.
Uttar Pradesh has a 403-member Assembly, for which voting will be held in seven phases. Results will be declared on March 11.
The term of outgoing assembly expires on March 18.