LUCKNOW: About eight per cent votes were cast in the first two hours as voting for the bypolls to seven assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh began on Tuesday amid the coronavirus pandemic. The polling started at 7 am amid tight security and special arrangements for COVID-19.
Joint chief electoral officer of the state Ramesh Chandra Rai said that till 9 am, 7.87 per cent voters had exercised their franchise.
The voting percentage in various assembly constituencies till 9 am was 8.27 per cent in Bangarmau, 7.8 per cent in Bulandshahr, 10 per cent in Deoria, 5.00 per cent in Ghatampur, 7.5 per cent in Malhani, 8.5 per cent in Naugaon Sadat and 8 per cent in Tundla.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday appealed to voters to participate in the "mega festival of democracy". "Voting in the bypolls to seven assembly seats in UP has begun. All the voters must participate in the mega festival of democracy. Everyone should exercise caution and discharge the duty of casting vote," he said in a tweet in Hindi. "Democracy will win, while coronavirus will be defeated," the CM added.
उत्तर प्रदेश की 07 विधानसभा सीटों पर उपचुनाव हेतु मतदान प्रारंभ हो गया है।— Yogi Adityanath (@myogiadityanath) November 3, 2020
सभी सम्मानित मतदातागण कोविड से बचाव सम्बन्धी सावधानियों का पालन करते हुए लोकतंत्र के इस महापर्व में अवश्य सहभागी बनें।
सभी सावधानियां अपनाएं,
मतदान का कर्तव्य निभाएं।
लोकतंत्र जीतेगा, कोरोना हारेगा।
The Samajwadi Party also urged voters to come out of their homes and vote in large numbers. "Those in power and responsible for worried farmers, insecure women power, poor health facilities, jobless labourers, collapsed law and order should be given a reply during the ongoing bypolls to UP Legislative Assembly. Come out of houses, and vote," the SP said in a tweet in Hindi.
बेरोजगार नौजवान— Samajwadi Party (@samajwadiparty) November 3, 2020
असुरक्षित 'नारी शक्ति'
स्वास्थ्य व्यवस्था बदहाल
मजदूर के छिने काम
गरीब, मध्यमवर्ग पर महंगाई की मार
ध्वस्त कानून व्यवस्था
के जिम्मेदार सत्ताधीशों को आज विधानसभा उपचुनावों के मतदान में देना है जवाब।
' घर से निकलें, करें मतदान '
The electoral fortune of 88 candidates, including nine women, will be decided by 24.34 lakh voters, including 13.03 lakh male voters on Tuesday. This is the first democratic exercise to be held in the state post COVID-19 pandemic when the voters will be eligible to exercise their franchise at 3,655 polling booths spread over 1,754 polling centres.
The seats are Tundla, Ghatampur, Naugaon Sadat, Bulandshahr, Bangarmau, Deoria and Malhani. Six of these seats were held by the BJP. Malhani seat was with the Samajwadi Party.
"All preparations to ensure a free, fair and peaceful polling keeping in mind coronavirus pandemic have been made. Voters will have to adhere to the COVID-19 protocol and maintain safe distance among themselves while casting votes," Chief Electoral Officer Ajay Kumar Shukla said.
Adequate security forces have been deployed to maintain peace and ensure orderly polling at the booths, including 371 "critical" booths. Counting of votes will take place on November 10.
The Yogi Adityanath government has been facing opposition flak over the law and order situation in the state, particularly after the Hathras and Balrampur rape and murder cases. Naugaon Sadat seat fell vacant after the death of cabinet minister Chetan Chauhan. The BJP has fielded his wife Sangeeta Chauhan for the bypoll hoping to encash sympathy votes.
In Ghatampur (Kanpur), the bypoll was necessitated due to the death of sitting MLA and cabinet minister Kamal Rani Varun, while in Tundla (Firozabad), MLA SP Singh Baghel was elected to Lok Sabha.
Both Chetan Chauhan and Kamal Rani Varun had succumbed to COVID-19. Bangarmau (Unnao) seat fell vacant following the conviction of Kuldeep Singh Sengar in a rape case. He had won on a BJP ticket but the party dumped him following a hue and cry after his conviction.
The seats of Bulandshahr, Deoria and Malhani will go to bypolls due to the demise of sitting MLAs Virendra Singh Sirohi, Janmejay Singh and Parasnath Yadav (SP).
Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad's Azad Samaj Party is testing its electoral popularity in Bulandshahr by fielding Md Yameen in the run up to the 2022 UP assembly polls when the party would look forward to consolidating its hold among the Dalits.
While Bulandshahr has the highest number of 18 candidates, Ghatampur has the lowest number of six contestants. Sixteen candidates are in the fray in Malhani (Jaunpur), 14 each in Naugawan Sadat (Amroha) and Deoria, 10 each in Bangarmau (Unnao) and Tundla (Firozabad).
Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu said in course of campaign that the public has decided to teach the ruling BJP a lesson. "This will be visible in the bypolls. These outcome of these bypolls will mark the commencement of the decline of the BJP and resurgence of the Congress," he had said while slamming the state government over the law and order situation.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo has appealed to people to vote for her party candidates and send a political message to rivals, while SP chief Akhilesh Yadav has said that these bypolls should be taken seriously. "The results of the bypolls will determine the path of UP politics. Voters have to choose between development and destruction," Yadav had said.
Facing opposition criticism over the law and order situation in the state, Chief Minister Adityanath has said that his government will come out with a law to deal with "love jihad" and used the Hindu funeral chant "Ram Naam Satya Hai" to threaten those who don't respect their daughters and sisters.