Ballia/Bikramganj, Dec 27 (UNI) High-profile campaigning for Ballia and Bikramganj December 29 Lok Sabha bypolls came to an end this evening.
In Ballia, the Samajwadi Party candidate -- son of former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar -- was pitted against the son of mafia don-turned-politician Hari Shankar Tiwari.
Ballia Parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh is witnessing election following the death of former Prime Minister and sitting MP Chandra Shekhar.
While the entire Opposition, except for the Congress, the BJP and the BSP, is supporting SP candidate Neeraj Shekhar, the youngest son of the former PM in the byelection, BSP's Vinay Shanker Tiwari along with the BJP and the Congress candidates had turned this bypoll as a run up to the Lok Sabha election in the state.
A total of over 1.5 million electorate would exercise their franchise at 716 polling stations and seal the fate of 16 candidates in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
The polling would start at 0700 hrs and end at 1700 hrs on Saturday. The counting of votes would take place on January 2.
About 249 and 221 polling centres have been declared as hyper-sensitive and sensitive respectively, in the constituency.
The Election Commission has banned the entry of outsiders, including ministers, in the constituency from today till the voting process is over on Saturday.
Police Superintendent L B Antony Kumar said about 55 companies of Central Reserve Police (CRP), Border Security Force (BSF), Shashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) would be deployed for security. Besides, about 3,000 state police personnel would be deployed in the constituency on election duty.
While Neeraj Shekhar is banking on his illustrious father's personality and the sympathy wave to romp home, the opposition parties had made the development of Ballia an agenda for the byelection.
Hectic campaigning also came to an end in Bikramganj bypoll which is apparently a contest restricted only between the NDA and UPA candidates.
Many Union Ministers and other leaders including RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav, BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BSP chief Mayawati, visited the constituency to seek votes from the people, who by and large remain ignored until the next polling, said a political observer.
The campaign also exposed cracks in the UPA as one of its prominent allies, the LJP and Union Minister Ramvilas Paswan extended support to CPI(ML) candidate Arun Kumar Singh instead of RJD candidate Ashok Kumar Kushwaha.
The NCP which had decided to field its candidate ultimately changed its strategy and extended support to the RJD candidate.
BSP candidate Baliram Mishra is banking upon the Dalit vote bank as Mayawati sought support from the people of Bihar.
However, being the part of ruling coalition in the state, JD(U) candidate Meena Singh has a slight edge over her rivals.
About 1.3 million voters are expected to cast their vote at 1434 polling booths.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made for peaceful election.
The administration has issued shoot-at-sight orders to check the activities of trouble mongers, who usually try to disrupt the poll process.
Apart from district police and Bihar Military Police, paramilitary forces would also be deployed during the polling in the constituency.