Polling is being held on Wednesday in 67 assembly constituencies of western Uttar Pradesh in the second of seven phases and in 69 assembly seats in Uttarakhand.
The ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pardesh had in 2012 won 34 of these seats spread across 11 districts. It has tied-up with Congress this time in the contest against BJP and BSP.
720 candidates are in the fray in this phase in UP with a maximum of 22 from Barhapur (Bijnor) and a minimum of four nominees from Dhanaura (Amroha). 2.28 crore people are eligible to vote, including over 1.04 crore women.
14,771 polling centres and 23,693 polling stations have been set up in the districts of Saharanpur, Bijnor, Moradabad, Sambhal, Rampur, Bareilly, Amroha, Pilibhit, Kheri, Shahjahanpur and Badaun and elaborate security arrangements made to ensure free amd fair polling, election officials said.
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.
BSP had bagged 18 seats last time, BJP 10, Congress three and others two.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah led the party campaign, intensifying their attack on Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his ally Congress. BJP is hoping to replicate its 2014 general election performance when it swept the politically crucial state.
The SP-Congress alliance’s charge was spearheaded by Akhilesh and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
BSP supremo Mayawati reached out to minority voters and said she will prove pollsters wrong as she did in 2012, when they had predicted her defeat.
In the hill state of Uttarakhand, around 74.20 lakh voters will decide the fate of 628 candidates as 69 out of 70 assembly constituencies spread over 13 districts go to polls.
Polling in Karnaprayag seat has been put off to March 9 following the death of BSP candidate Kuldeep Singh Kanwasi in a road accident on Sunday.
Congress and BJP are locked in a straight contest in most of the seats but the presence of about a dozen rebel candidates in the fray as independents and the saffron party fielding former Congressmen may upset the calculations.
Rahul held two public meetings in Rishikesh and Someshwar besides a 75-km roadshow in Haridwar district which has the maximum number of 11 constituencies in Uttarakhand.
Chief Minister Harish Rawat has gone all out to woo voters by holding several public meetings and roadshows on daily basis in perhaps the most crucial election of his career.
A total of 30,000 security personnel including 105 companies of central armed police force, 25 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary, Uttarakhand police and the homeguards have been deployed. For the first time voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines will be used in these elections in Uttarakhand.
The BJP has been attacking the ruling parties in both the states over corruption. Modi raised the issue of demonetisation and surgical strikes repeatedly at his rallies.
Congress and Samajwadi Party have in turn accused Modi of failing to deliver on his promises and causing suffering to the common man with note ban.