About 70 lakh voters are expected to cast votes on Wednesday to decide the electoral fortunes of 74 candidates contesting for 5 Lok Sabha seats of Uttarakhand, where ruling Congress and Opposition BJP are locked in direct contest.
The seats that will go to poll include Pauri-Garhwal,
Tehri, Nainital, Almora and Haridwar.
While the BJP hopes to sail through on "Modi wave", the Congress is trying to make the most of chief minister Harish Rawat's development agenda in the calamity-hit state to tilt the scales in its favour amid fears of an anti-incumbency wave countrywide.
However, in Haridwar and Nainital seats the AAP, BSP and SP are trying hard to make the contest three-cornered.
Some high profile candidates testing electoral waters this time include three former BJP chief ministers - Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari and Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank besides chief minister Harish Rawat's wife Renuka, former CM Vjay Bahuguna's son Saket and daughter in law of erstwhile Tehri royal family Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah.
BJP heavyweight Khanduri is pitted against cabinet minister and Congress MLA from Ruydraprayag Assembly constituency Harak Singh Rawat in Pauri-Garhwal Lok Sabha seat.
Former CM Koshiyari is taking on sitting Congress MP K C Singh Baba in Nainital, where AAP's Balbir Singh Cheema and BSP's?Laik Ahmed are expected to make the contest interesting.
Nishank, also a former CM, is pitted against Harish Rawat's wife Renuka in Haridwar from where AAP nominee and the country's first woman DGP Kanchan Chaudhry Bhattacharya is also in the fray.
In Tehri, former CM Bahuguna's son Saket is pitted once again against sitting BJP MP Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah to whom he had lost by more than 20,000 votes in 2012 bypoll to the seat.
In Almora, it is sitting Congress MP Pradeeep Tamta versus BJP's Ajay Tamta.
Elaborate arrangements have been made to conduct free and fair polling across the state with the deployment of 48,122 poll personnel on the state's 10,094 booths, election officials here said.
The 48,122 polling personnel deployed on the booths include 11,484 presiding officers and 36,638 polling officials, the state election officer informed, adding that 711 micro observes have also been deployed to ensure free and fair poll.
Security has been tightened across the state to conduct peaceful polling with the deployment of 76 gazetted police officials, 122 inspectors, 759 sub-inspectors, 1,531 head constables, 11,225 constables, 11,245 homeguards, 5,409 gram prahris, chowkidars and forest guards besides 21 companies of the Provincial Armed Constabulary and 56 companies of central police forces, election officials said.
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