Varanasi: The temple town has turned into a fortress with over 45,000 security personnel being deployed to ensure free and fair polls Monday in the city where two of most talked about politicians BJP's Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Aadmi Party - are locked in a high-stake contest.
Top police officers of Uttar Pradesh have personally come down to the city to assess the security situation and make foolproof arrangements for what is being dubbed as the blockbuster battle of the 2014 Lok Sabha (the lower house of Indian Parliament) polls, with the Election Commission too already appointing a Special Observer.
Gun-toting security personnel could be seen in almost every part of the city as well as in rural areas and police said there should not be any apprehension about any irregularities including rigging and booth capturing during the polls.
Prakash D, Inspector General of Police (Varanasi Division), said "adequate" number of security personnel from state police, Border Security Force, Rapid Action Force and Central Reserve Police Force have been deployed besides all possible measures to ensure free and fair polls in the high-profile constituency.
Central paramilitary forces have been deployed at all the 1,562 polling stations which are also under CCTV coverage.
The police have conducted raids and precautionary checks in various areas in the last two days besides keeping a strong vigil in localities identified as "sensitive".
The administration has already asked all those who were involved in campaigning but do not belong to the city to leave Varanasi.
There have been searches by police at hotels, guest houses and dharmasalas (guesthouses) to flush out "outsiders" who are not from Varanasi and were involved in campaigning.
Areas around ghats along Ganges are also being sanitised while vigil has been increased in certain minority dominated areas.
"We have made elaborate security arrangements. Adequate number of forces have been deployed and we are confident that polling in Varanasi will be peaceful and without any irregularities.
"I am satisfied with the security preparedness," Prakash told PTI.