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Polling begins for 8 UP seats in 1st phase of LS polls

Polling begins for 8 UP seats in 1st phase of LS polls

Lucknow, April 19 (UNI) Polling for eight parliamentary constituencies in the first phase of the Lok Sabha election in western Uttar Pradesh began amidst tight security arrangements on Friday.
The Chief Electoral Officer of UP, Navdeep Rinwa, said that the polling, which began at 7 am, will continue till 6 pm.
"Eight parliamentary constituencies where polling is being held are Saharanpur, Kairana, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Nagina, Moradabad, Rampur, and Pilibhit," he said.
A public holiday has been declared on Friday by the state government in the districts where polling is being held.
He said that these eight parliamentary constituencies are spread over nine districts of Saharanpur, Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Bijnor, Moradabad, Rampur, Pilibhit, and Bareilly.
"More than 1.44 crore electorates, including 76.54 lakh males and 67.46 lakh females, are eligible to exercise their franchise. There are 80 candidates, including 7 females, in fray for these 8 seats," he said.
The CEO said that polling is being held at 14,845 polling booths spread over 7,693 polling centres, of which 3,571 are critical.
"To maintain a vigil on the polling, eight general observers, five police observers, and 10 expenditure observers have been deployed. Besides, 1,272 sector magistrates, 150 zonal magistrates, 103 static magistrates, and 1,861 micro observers have also been deployed," he said.
He said that a maximum of 14 candidates are contesting from Kairana and a minimum of 6 each are in fray from Nagina and Rampur seats. "A maximum of 20.59 lakh voters are eligible to cast their vote in Moradabad, and Nagina has a minimum number of 16.44 lakh electorates," he said.
Meanwhile, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Amitabh Yash said that 6,018 Inspectors and Sub Inspectors, 35,750 head constables and constables, 24,992 Home Guards, 60 companies of PAC, and 220 companies of CAPF have been deployed on poll duty. "As a force multiplier, 6,764 village chowkidars and 155 PRD jawans have also been deployed," he said.
He said that 248 barriers have been set up in the nine districts that will go to the polls in the first phase. "11 barriers have been set up in Pilibhit, which is an international border-affected area, and 88 barriers have been set up in the remaining districts where continuous checking is being done," he said.
The ADG said that continuous monitoring and vigilance are being maintained on international and interstate borders by installing additional CCTV cameras. It may be noted that the first phase of Lok Sabha polls in UP is crucial for all the political parties, including the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the INDI alliance, comprising the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress, and the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
In the Saharanpur seat, Congress candidate Imran Masood is locked in a battle with BJP nominee Raghav Lakhanpal. BSP, which has denied tickets to its sitting MP, Haji Fazlur Rehman, is heavily banking on Majid Ali.
In the Kairana seat, sitting BJP MP Pradeep Chaudhary is being challenged by Iqra Hasan of the SP and Shripal Rana of the BSP. Iqra, who is making her debut in electoral politics, is the sister of three-time MLA Nahid Hasan and the daughter of two-time MP Tabassum Hasan.
In Pilibhit, where the BJP has denied tickets to sitting MP Varun Gandhi, the party has fielded PWD Minister in the Yogi Adityanath government and former Union Minister Jitin Prasada. Here, the SP has fielded its old loyalist and former minister, Bhagwat Saran Gangwar. The BSP has fielded Anis Ahmad Khan in this seat.
In the Muzaffarnagar seat, SP has pitched senior leader Harendra Malik against two-time BJP MPs and Union Minister Sanjeev Kumar Balyan. Bijnor seat National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) MLA Chandhan Chauhan is locked in a contest with Deepak Saini of SP and Chaudhary Vijendra Singh of BSP.
An interesting contest is being witnessed in Nagina seat, where the chief of the Azad Samaj Party (Kanshi Ram), Chandra Shekhar Azad, is posing a serious challenge to the BJP's Om Kumar, the SP's Manoj Kumar, and Surendra Pal Singh of the BSP.
The 2019 candidate of Mahagatbandhan, comprising SP, BSP, and RLD, Girish Chandra, emerged victorious from this seat, but this time he was denied a ticket by the BSP.
In the Moradabad seat, SP candidate Ruchi Veera is challenging Sravesh Kumar Singh of the BJP. But going seems to be difficult for the SP candidate after sitting MP HT Hasan distanced himself from the campaigning after being denied a ticket by the party.
Rampur is witnessing its first general election in the absence of senior SP leader Mohammad Azam Khan. In the 2022 by-election for the Rampur seat, the BJP breached the bastion of the SP, probably for the first time after several years when BJP candidate and sitting MP Ghanshyam Singh Lodhi defeated the SP's Mohammad Asim Rama, considered to be close to Azam Khan.
This time SP has fielded Mohibullah Nadvi, which has led to confusion among the supporters and well-wishers of Azam Khan. Here, BSP has given a ticket to a newcomer, Zeeshan Khan, who has been associated with the party for more than a decade.
It may be mentioned that almost all the parties, especially the BJP, which aims to win all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP, had campaigned extensively in the first phase. Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a rally in Saharanpur.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had toured almost all the election-bound districts twice or three times, seeking support in favour of the BJP candidates. Besides, a battery of ministers in the BJP government, including Deputy Chief Ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya, Brajesh Pathak, and state president Bhupendra Singh, also campaigned extensively in the first phase of the polls in UP.
Though SP chief Akhilesh Yadav started campaigning a bit late for the party candidates, he held rallies in Nagina (Bijnor) and Moradabad. Prior to this, he also held a rally in Pilibhit.
Congress has been the only exception, and none of the senior leaders held a single rally in the first phase of UP.
Only national general secretary Priyanka Gandhi held a roadshow in Saharanpur, seeking support in favour of party candidate Imran Masood, on the last day of campaigning.
UNI AB ARN ING

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