Lucknow: The Election Commission (EC) has prohibited exit polls for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections till 5.30 pm on 9 March following the death of the Samajwadi Party candidate for the Alapur seat, in the wake of which polling, originally scheduled for 27 February, has been pushed back to Thursday, an official said.
State Chief Electoral Officer T. Venkatesh said on Monday that if any media organisation published or broadcast exit polls before the stipulated deadline it would be treated as violation of the Model Code of Conduct and strictly dealt with.
The earlier deadline of the exit polls was 30 minutes after the conclusion of the staggered seven-phase polls on 8 March.
Voting in Uttar Pradesh began on 11 February and was scheduled to conclude on Wednesday after a hectic, long drawn and caustic campaigning by various political parties.
Results of the 403 state assembly seats would be announced on 11 March.
Hectic preparations were underway across the state for the counting of votes. The Electronic Voting Machines are stored under heavy security in the 75 districts of the state.
Raising the stakes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done unprecedented level of canvassing in his home turf, which has five assembly seats, by campaigning in the city for three days on the trot.
His rivals, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav of SP and his ally Rahul Gandhi of the Congress, have sought to corner the prime minister in the city by carrying out intensive campaign, including taking a big road show.
The BJP, which is hopeful of capturing power in the state after 15 years in the wilderness, virtually functioned out of the holy city as its chief Amit Shah and other top party leaders shifted their base here weeks ahead of the polls.
However, it was Modi who left no stone unturned as he criss-crossed his constituency.
He held two back-to-back road shows, addressed four public meetings, visited an influential ashram and offered tributes to former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri - all in a span of three days - as he sought votes for his party candidates.
The BJP holds three and the Samajwadi Party two of the five seats in the outgoing Assembly but the former is making a determined bid to oust rival parties from Modi's turf.
But it has met a formidable challenger in the SP-Congress alliance and a massive road show by Yadav and Gandhi through the heart of the city has sparked some concerns in the saffron camp.
Political observers believe that such a keen contest and campaigning should result in a relatively high polling percentage.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Mar 09, 2017 14:40 PM