Assembly elections: Punjab votes today, big test for Akhilesh Yadav in UP's third round polling
New Delhi/IBNS: Voting for the high profile assembly elections are currently underway in the two crucial states of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. While it is the third round of voting in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab will vote for all the 117 Assembly constituencies on Sunday.
Polling began at 8 AM and will continue till 6 PM in both states. The counting of votes in all five states would take place on March 10.
Prime Miniter Narendra modi urged voters to exercise their rights in large numbers.
In a tweet he wrote: "The Punjab elections and the third phase of the UP elections are being held today. I call upon all those voting today to do so in large numbers, particularly the youth as well as first time voters."
The Punjab elections and the third phase of the UP elections are being held today. I call upon all those voting today to do so in large numbers, particularly the youth as well as first time voters.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 20, 2022
In Uttar Pradesh, all eyes are on the Karhal seat from where Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav is contesting his first state elections. The BJP has fielded Union Minister SP Singh Baghel against him. The SP has lost this seat just once since the party's inception in 1992.
In 2017, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party swept the region by winning 50 seats.
The saffron outfit's new caste consolidation had in 2017 assembly and 2019 Lok Sabha elections demolished the Samajwadi Party in the core Yadav land, swept away the Bahujan Samaj Party in Bundelkhand and dominated the elections in the urban stronghold of Kanpur region.
With the third phase done, nearly half of UP's 403 assembly seats would have voted. 172 seats will finish polling after this phase.
In Uttar Pradesh, other prominent candidates are SP chief's uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav (Jaswantnagar), BJP's Satish Mahana (Maharajpur in Kanpur), Ramveer Upadhayay (Sadabad in Hathras), Asim Arun (Kannauj Sadar) and Congress' Louise Khurshid (Farrukhabad Sadar). Louise Khurshid is the wife of senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Salman Khurshid.
In Punjab, a total of 2,12,75,066 voters will decide the electoral fate of 1,304 candidates in these elections.
Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, Shiromani Akali Badal-Bahujan Samaj Party combine, BJP-Punjab Lok Congress-Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt) alliance, the Aam Aadmi Party and farmers leader Balbir Singh Rajewal-led Sanyukt Samaj Morcha (SSM) and BKU leader Gurnam Singh Charuni-led Sanyukt Sangharsh Party (SSP) alliance have fielded candidates in almost all the 117 seats of the state.
While the ruling Congress party has announced Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi as its chief ministerial candidate, the AAP has declared Lok Sabha MP Bhagwant Mann as the party's CM face whereas BSP supremo Mayawati has declared SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal as the CM candidate of the SAD-BSP alliance.
The NDA alliance, comprising the BJP, Punjab Lok Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt) has not announced its chief ministerial face.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Piyush Goel, Smriti Irani, Anurag Thakur, Gajendra Shekhawat and BJP president J P Nadda addressed public rallies and held roadshows for the BJP-PLC-SAD(S) alliance candidates.
For the ruling Congress, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Chhatisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel, Randeep Surjewala, Kumari Selja, Sachin Pilot, Rajiv Shukla etc campaigned for the party candidates in the state.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia, Satyendra Jain, Raghav Chadha and Party's chief ministerial candidate Bhagwant Mann extensively campaigned for the AAP candidates.