Voting begins in 67 constituencies across 15 districts for the second phase of the Uttar Pradesh Elections 2017 and in the hill state of Uttarakhand.
In Uttarakhand, around 74.20 lakh voters will decide the fate of 628 candidates as 69 out of 70 assembly constituencies spread over 13 districts are going to polls today.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati campaigned extensively for this phase.
Among the key constituencies polling today include Bijnor, Moradabad, Lakhimpur Kheri among others. The Uttar Pradesh election is considered to be a high-octane three-way contest between the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance, the BJP and BSP.
While the Samajwadi Party seeks to retain the state - albeit with the Congress this time, the BSP and BJP hope to regain power in the state after five and 13 years respectively.
The voter turnout in the first phase was recorded at 64.2 per cent - an increase of nearly three per cent from the first phase turnout in 2012.
This is the second phase of polling in India’s most populous state that is seeing a triangular contest, with the BJP, BSP and the Congress-SP alliance eyeing the throne.
The stakes in this round are the highest for the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP), which had done well in many of these constituencies in 2012 elections.
In the hill state of Uttarakhand, around 74.20 lakh voters will decide the fate of 628 candidates as 69 out of 70 assembly constituencies spread over 13 districts are going to polls.
For the Congress government of chief minister Harish Rawat, the adage is a little too close to life for comfort. The state government’s inability to create sufficient jobs means people of the hill state have no option but to migrate for employment.
Besides voter dissatisfaction with the government’s inability to create jobs, Rawat and the Congress are also up against history— since Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh 16 years, no party has won back-to-back terms in the state. The voters of Uttarakhand have alternated between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The last time, the Congress squeaked past its rival with a one-seat lead, and this time too, the election is seen to be too close to call.
For both parties, Wednesday’s election is crucial. For the Congress, a victory in Uttarakhand will preserve one of its few bastions in the North; for the BJP, it is key to the party’s ambition of expanding its electoral footprint in a politically crucial region.
Polling in Karnaprayag seat has been put off to March 9 following the death of BSP candidate Kuldeep Singh Kanwasi in a road accident on Sunday.
Catch all the live updates from both states here:
8:24am: BJP state president Ajay Bhatt casts his vote in Ranikhet, former minister and Congress candidate Tilakraj Behad casts his vote in Rudrapur
8:14am: People queue up to cast their vote in Dehradun’s Hathi Barkala
8:05am: People queue up outside Azad Inter College in Bareilly to cast their votes.
8:00am: Voting begins for 69 assembly seats in Uttarakhand.
7:53am: Congress leader Jitin Prasada casts his vote in Tilhar, Shahjahanpur.