Voting for 67 assembly constituencies in western Uttar Pradesh in the second of the seven-phase elections in the state ended on Wednesday. With a total of 720 candidates in the fray, voting was held across 11 districts – Saharanpur, Bijnor, Moradabad, Sambhal, Rampur, Bareilly, Amroha, Pilibhit, Kheri, Shahjahanpur and Badaun. By 5 pm on Wednesday, according to the Election Commission, 65.5 per cent voting in the second phase was completed, with counting still going on.
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With voting underway at 7 am, several polling booths reported errors early on. Voters in Moradabad said that while polling was supposed to begin at 7 am, machines were still just being set up. A glitch in EVM machine temporarily halted voting process at Badaun Sadar constituency’s SK Inter College booth number 183 as well. Meanwhile in Budaun, drone camera was used at a polling booth for surveillance purposes.
The second phase is considered crucial for Samajwadi Party as stakes in this round are the highest for the ruling Akhilesh Yadav-led party. Out of the 67 seats, SP had won 34 in the previous assembly elections, while BSP, BJP, Congress and others won 18, 10, 3 and 2 respectively.
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 are among those contesting.
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.
While the polling took across western Uttar Pradesh, leaders took the opportunity to take jibes at each other.
Dusre charan ka vote pad raha hai, hum to sawaray se hi khabar pa rahe hain cycle ki raftaar badh rahi hai (I have been reading since morning that cycle has been picking up the votes),” said Akhilesh Yadav in Unnao.
On the other hand, PM Narendra Modi, at a rally in Kannauj took a swipe at the ruling Samajwadi Party and said,“I don’t own a single car but these people who call themselves socialists, have many expensive cars.”
At the rally, he said that the SP, BSP, Congress were all favouring each other in some way or the other in these elections.
Attacking PM Modi over his ‘Rs 15 lakh promise’, BSP supremo Mulayam Singh said that despite all the promises, not even Rs 15 was not given.
“15-15 Lakh Rs dene ki baat kahi thi, 15 rupaiy tak nahi diye(There were talks over giving Rs 15 lakh to the people, not even Rs 15 has been given ,” said Mulayam Singh.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi also joined in attacking PM Modi over the same and said that ‘two youths’ have come together to not make fake promises.
“Two youths have joined hands, so will work for the youngsters. We have not come to make fake promise of Rs 15 lakh,” said Gandhi at Barabanki.
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.