Ghaziabad goes to polls on Saturday with a total of 53 candidates contesting from the five assembly segments in Loni, Murad Nagar, Sahibabad, Ghaziabad and Modi Nagar. The total voters constitute 56.12% men and 43.86% women. Out of 53 candidates, only five women candidates are contesting from the district.
The district goes to polls under the first of seven phases of election to the Uttar Pradesh assembly which has a total of 403 seats. The candidates from major political parties, including Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), and Samajwadi Party (SP), are contesting from the five segments in Ghaziabad besides those from lesser known parties and independents. During the 2012 assembly election, the BSP won four out of five seats in Ghaziabad and RLD bagged the other seat.
The Ghaziabad district holds importance because of its positioning in western Uttar Pradesh and proximity to the national capital. It is believed that voting in the district and other western UP areas will set a trend for political parties in other parts of the state that go to polls in the next six phases.
Publicity campaigns in Ghaziabad and adjoining places were undertaken by star campaigners including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, incumbent UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati, Yogi Aditya Nath, actor turned politicians Hema Malini and Naghma, Amit Shah, Raj Babbar, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mohammad Azam Khan, Nasimuddin Siddiqui and Jayant Chaudhary.
The election campaigning has been hectic in areas such as Loni, Murad Nagar, Modi Nagar and parts of Ghaziabad and Sahibabad segments. As per official records, 32 FIRs were lodged against contesting candidates and other persons for violation of the Model Code of Conduct and even for violation of prevailing prohibitory orders.
There will be 2,494 polling booths across the five assembly segments, and security personnel and poll booth officials have taken positions with electronic voting machines.
“We have made elaborate arrangements for peaceful conduct of polls. Nearly 13,500 polling personnel have been deployed and sent on 527 buses to the polling booths. We have also made arrangement for proper police and para military forces to be deployed at polling booths across the district,” Nidhi Kesarwani, district election officer, Ghaziabad, said.
Police have identified 102 critical and 173 vulnerable polling booths where facilities have been made for extra caution. An additional deployment of 5,479 home guards has also been made for the polls.
“There has been a total deployment of 12,000 security personnel, including civil police personnel. The critical and vulnerable booths are being monitored and borders with Delhi have been specially sensitised ahead of polls. There will be strict checking through the polling day,” Rajesh Kumar, police nodal officer, said.
During the last assembly election in 2012, the rural belts of Modi Nagar, Murad Nagar and Loni had a turnout of 62.61%, 62.34% and 60.19%. The voters of other urban segments of Sahibabad and Ghaziabad were less keen on voting with polling percentages reported at 49.31% and 54.08%. The overall polling percentage in the state was 59.4%.
To increase the polling percentage this year, the administration identified top 10 polling centres that recorded low turnout in comparison to the polling percentage of the assembly segment. Various rallies and publicity events were undertaken to urge people to vote.