Lucknow: Polling began this morning in 67 Assembly constituencies spread over 11 districts of western Uttar Pradesh figuring in the second phase of voting.
The districts where polling is on amid tight security arrangements are Saharanpur, Bijnor, Moradabad, Sambhal, Rampur, Bareilly, Amroha, Pilibhit, Kheri, Shahjahanpur and Badaun. Official sources said here that elaborate arrangements have been made for free and fair polling. Of the 67 seats at stake, ruling Samajwadi Party had won 34 in 2012, followed by BSP 18, BJP 10, Congress three and others two. In this phase, 720 candidates are in the fray with a maximum of 22 from Barhapur (Bijnor) and a minimum of four nominees from Dhanaura (Amroha).
Prominent contestants include controversial SP minister Azam Khan and his son Abdullah Azam, who are contesting from Rampur and Swar seats respectively, Saif Ali Naqvi, son of former Congress MP Zafar Ali Naqvi, former central minister Jitin Prasada from Tilhar (Shahjahanpur), BJP Legislature Party leader Suresh Kumar Khanna from Shahjahanpur city and state minister Mehboob Ali from Amroha.
The fate of these candidates will be decided by 2.28 crore voters, including over 1.04 crore women, eligible to cast their ballots in 14,771 polling centres and 23,693 polling stations. The Election Commission has barred political parties and candidates from publishing advertisements in newspapers today and tomorrow without its approval. The EC has asked them to get the advertisements pre-certified from the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee at the state and district levels before their publication.
The poll body said the decision has been taken in view of past instances of advertisements of offending and misleading nature in print media on such occasions which vitiate the elections. The next five phases of polling will be held on February 19, 23, 27 and on March 4 and 8. Counting of votes will be taken up on March 11.