The first of the two-phase urban local body polls in Uttar Pradesh will take place on Thursday, a major poll battle in the politically crucial state ahead of the 2024 parliamentary elections.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and opposition Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav took trips to different places on the last day of the campaign on Tuesday to engage with voters and attacked each other with their typical jibes.
According to the State Election Commission, voters in 37 districts will vote in the first phase of the polls on Thursday to elect 7,593 representatives, including 10 mayors and 820 corporators. Polling for the second-phase polling will take place on May 11.
These elections will pose a key test for the parties ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha polls.
More than 2.40 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the first round of voting, officials said, and added that all the posts are being contested on party symbols.
In the first phase, polling will be held for posts of 103 nagar palika parishad chairpersons and 2,740 nagar palika parishad members.
Apart from this, voters in the first phase will also decide the fate of 275 nagar panchayat chairpersons and 3,645 nagar panchayat members.
Altogether 44,232 candidates are in the fray in the opening round.
SEC officials said 85 representatives, including 10 corporators, have already been elected unopposed.
As the campaigning for the polls intensified, Adityanath had termed the polls as “Dev-Asur Sangram (battle between deities and demons).” On the last day of campaigning, without naming anyone, the chief minister appeared to invoke nature as a great leveller — a force that delivers justice.
He was addressing an election meeting in Allahabad West constituency, which was represented five times by mafia-turned-politician Atiq Ahmad, who was killed recently.
Barring the BJP and the SP, whose leaders actively held election rallies, campaigning of other political parties was rather a low-key affair.
BSP chief Mayawati, who herself did not campaign, on Tuesday issued an appeal through tweets to the people to vote for her party.
With top Congress leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Mallikarjun Kharge busy in the Karnataka assembly elections, some state party leaders were seen seeking support for the party nominees.
When contacted by PTI, Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Brijlal Khabri said, “The party is contesting on all the 17 seats of mayors, and on around 70 per cent seats of corporators.” On being asked that the party leaders were conspicuous by their absence during the campaigning, Khabri said, “The brick used in laying the foundation stone of the building remains unseen.” “The people of the state have shown their inclination towards the party. Whatever the current government — both in the state and at Centre — has given to the people in nine years and five years respectively, the people are unable to tolerate it,” he added.
The Aam Aadmi Party, which has also jumped into the fray, is hopeful of staging upsets.
“AAP and its leader Sanjay Singh got good support and response from the people during the campaign. People in the state want a change, and we are hopeful that the party will stage upsets in these elections,” senior party leader Shekhar Dixit told PTI.
Rashtriya Lok Dal spokesperson Ankur Saxena exuded confidence that the party’s candidates will perform “extremely well” in these polls.
The districts where mayoral election will be held in the first phase are Saharanpur, Agra, Moradabad, Firozabad, Mathura, Jhansi, Prayagraj, Lucknow, Gorakhpur and Varanasi.
Voting will be held from 7 am to 6 pm in all the districts, officials have said.
Elaborating on security arrangements for the polls, Special DG (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said that as many as 19,880 inspectors/sub-inspectors; 1,01,477 head constables/constables; 47,985 home guards; 86 companies of PAC; 35 companies of CAPF; and 7,500 under-training sub-inspectors will be posted for the first phase of the urban local bodies elections.
Counting of votes for both the phases will take place on May 13.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)