WIONNew Delhi, Delhi, IndiaFeb 15, 2017, 01.43 AM (IST)
Polling began this morning in 67 Assembly constituencies spread over 11 districts of western Uttar Pradesh in the second of the seven-phase voting. Voter turnout in UP till 11 am was recorded at 24.14 per cent.
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).
The districts where polling is on amid tight security arrangements are Saharanpur, Bijnor, Moradabad, Sambhal, Rampur, Bareilly, Amroha, Pilibhit, Kheri, Shahjahanpur and Badaun, news agency Press Trust of India reported.
The Election Commission said 64 per cent voters exercised their franchise in the first phase on Feb 11.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance are locked in a triangular contest in the state.
The contest is seen as a key test for Prime Minister Narendra Modi halfway into his first term as prime minister.
The BJP hopes to increase its tally of seats in the Upper House, Rajya Sabha at the time of the biennial elections in 2018. Nearly 70 members are expected to retire and a significant 10 will retire from UP. The BJP has 56 seats to Congress’ 60 seats in the Rajya Sabha.
A defeat in UP will, therefore, dent Modi government’s efforts to win more seats in Rajya Sabha and pass crucial legislations which are stuck because of the lack of majority.
The state, which accounts for the largest number of seats in the Lower House (Lok Sabha) voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Modi-led BJP in the 2014 general elections.
Voting in Uttar Pradesh will be done in seven phases - February 11, 15, 19, 23, 27, March 4 and 8. The counting of votes will take place on March 11.