Amid tight security arrangements the polling for fifth phase of state assembly elections would be held in 57 constituencies on Saturday. In view of the sensitivity in dacoit-battered Banda and Chitrakoot the Election Commission has undertaken special security measures to conduct free and fair elections.
Briefing newsmen in Lucknow on Friday the chief electoral officer AK Bishnoi said "650 companies central para-military forces had been deployed for fear-free polling". Nearly 35 companies of PAC and 30,000 civil police have also been put of law and order duty in nine districts going to polls on Friday.
The additional chief electoral officer Divesh Chaturvedi said "apart from additional observers in each district, nearly 150 micro observers have also been deployed in hyper-sensitive areas like Chitrakoot, Banda and Pratapgarh". While keeping their identity secret they have been asked to stay at polling centers till the closing of the polling.
Bishnoi said "the commission has made adequate security arrangements in all districts for peaceful polling". Nearly 1.59 crore voters would decide the fate of 850 candidates including 55 women at 15492 polling stations.
While biggest constituency having 5.94 lakh voters is Mahona, the smallest is Lucknow East with 2.13 lakh electorates. Interestingly largest number of 35 candidates are also in Mahona and minimum numbers of six are in Manikpur (Chitrakoot).
Some senior IPS officers have also been specially deployed in Chitrakoot, Banda, Pratapgarh and Sultanpur. Bishnoi said "deputy election commissioner JP Prakash would be hopping around in constituencies by helicopter to monitor the polling".
He said instructions had been issued to properly check photo identity cards and other alternatives including ration cards. In view of large complaints about the possible use of fake ration cards, the commission had directed the district administration to take precautions to stop its use.
The districts going to polls are Hardoi, Unnao, Lucknow, Rae-Bareli, Sultanpur, Pratapgarh, Fatehpur, Banda and Chitrakot and prominent contestants are BJP leader Lalji Tandon, ministers Naresh Agarwal, Ashok Bajpai, Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhayya, RK Chaudhury, BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya, Congress leaders Pramod Tiwari and Amita Singh, Akhilesh Kumar Singh.