UP Election 2017: Parties gear up for crucial first phase on Saturday as 73 constituencies vote

The stage is set for the crucial first phase of Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh, voting for which will begin on Saturday. Polling will be held in 73 assembly constituencies spread across 15 districts in the western part of the state in the first phase. There will be a total of 839 candidates whose electoral fortunes will be determined tomorrow. According to The Economic Times, there are 2.59 crore voters who would exercise their franchise, including 1.42 crore men, 1.17 crore women and 1,511 from the third gender.

 UP Election 2017: Parties gear up for crucial first phase on Saturday as 73 constituencies vote

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav during a campaign. Reuters.

The maximum number of candidates are in Agra South (26), while the least number of candidates — six each — are from Hastinapur, Iglas and Loni.

Amid heightened fear of poll violence, already proved true by a spate of incidents in the last few days, security deployment has been beefed up in sensitive areas: Shamli, Aligarh, Muzaffarnagar, Mathura, Bulandshahr and Agra. According to The Times Of India, among 73 constituencies, Sahibabad (Ghaziabad) has maximum number of electorates, while Jalesar is the smallest constituency.

Campaigning for this phase had many firsts:

This was for the first time in the electoral history of the region that former Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, now a mere "mentor" for the Samajwadi Party (SP), did not campaign. Congress president Sonia Gandhi also didn't show up due to ill-health. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi campaigned jointly.

While Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, despite named "star campaigner", did not join in the canvassing, Kannauj MP Dimple Yadav and veteran actress Jaya Bachchan did campaign for party candidates.

In the 2012 Assembly polls, SP had won 24 seats, while Bahujan Samaj Party won 23, Bharatiya Janata Party 12, Rashtriya Lok Dal 9 and Congress 5 seats from the western part of the state. In the corresponding region for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP had won all 12 seats here, and many veterans like Ajit Singh were drowned in the saffron surge.

Prominent seats which have attracted attention include Noida, from where Pankaj Singh, son of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, is contesting; Mathura, where senior Congress leader Pradip Mathur is locked in a direct battle with Shrikant Sharma, national spokesman of the BJP; and Sardhana, where BJP's Sangeet Som is challenged by SP's Atul Pradhan.

In Meerut, former state BJP president and sitting MLA Laxmikant Bajpayi is being challenged in a triangular contest by SP-Congress combine's Rafiq Ansari and BSP's Pankaj Jolly. Kairana, Thana Bhawan and Sikandarabad are other high-profile seats.

The battle for control of the 403-seat state is also being seen as particularly crucial in the run-up to the 2019 general election.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Feb 10, 2017 17:07:35 IST